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Moon Race Roundup #116: Kennedy Space Center

Moon Race Roundup #116: Kennedy Space Center

By Nick Azer  on November 10, 2014

This week, on the road to the Moon…

Where Legends Are Born

That, is the legendary Kennedy Space Center----where Apollo missions launched for the Moon, the Space Shuttle flew many times, and now where Google Lunar XPRIZE team Moon Express has announced they will be performing key tests of their lunar lander!

Moon Express with their MX-1 Lander, and a certain Moon legend among the group… (Photo: Moon Express).

Moon Express---a Silicon Valley start-up---is one of the five teams looking to claim the $6 million in Milestone Prizes that are available this year, and these tests will be an important component of that as they look to claim a potential early edge in the competition.

Their new partnership with the NASA Kennedy Space Center will hopefully provide not just a facility for their Milestone Prize attempts, but also a longstanding partnership, as they look to develop business for the Moon!:

“The flight tests that we're embarking on at the Shuttle Landing Facility are the beginning of what we hope and anticipate will be a larger-scale permanent presence in Florida.”- Bob Richards, CEO & Co-Founder, Moon Express (to Florida Today)

If the team is successful in passing their lunar lander tests and claiming some of those $6 million in prizes available over the next few months, it could potentially give them an edge in claiming the rest of the $30 million in prizes available from the Google Lunar XPRIZE for reaching the Moon!

Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, left, with Moon Express Co-Founder & Chairman Naveen Jain at Kennedy Space Center. Aldrin’s son, Andy, signed on as team President this year. (Photo: Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today).

But, it’s still an 18-team race for the grand prize, so there’s plenty of competition! Moon Express, like many of the #GLXP teams, is looking to develop a long-term lunar business---and partnerships like this NASA one will go a long ways towards getting us back to the Moon (for good!).

Stay tuned as the tests from Moon Express get underway, and we start to hear about which teams might win some of these early Milestone Prizes!


And, speaking of the Milestone Prizes, another competitor for them---Berlin’s Part Time Scientists---revealed a sneak peek at some upcoming ‘big surprises’:

A sneak peek at ‘big surprises’ from “Hell yeah, it’s rocket science!” (Photo: Part Time Scientists on Facebook, “Hell yeah, it’s rocket science!”).

While fellow Milestones team Hakuto, from Japan, was busy giving an awesome TED talk at TEDxTohoku, featuring their micro-rover, Tetris (which will tag-team with their Moonraker bot to explore never-before-seen lunar caves!):

Nittany Machines

It’s not just the Milestone Prize teams that are keeping busy, though, as Penn State Lunar Lion has been showing with the roaring pace of development on their PUMA test craft (and other, 3D-printed hardware):

Lunar Lion Stephen Palopoli proposing marriage to their PUMA test craft. And/or working on a 3D-printed rocket nozzle. (Photo: Chloe Nagle on Twitter, @chloenags).

”Having a Makerbot [3D printer] in the lab allows me, as an engineer, to think in 3D." – Mitchell Lester, Penn State Lunar Lion (Photo: Penn State Lunar Lion on Twitter, @LunarLionPSU).

Exciting things are happening in the labs of Penn State, as they look to fuel the first-ever University-led Moon mission!

And that’s just one of the exciting things developing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE every week…so stay tuned here as the path to the Moon starts to get a little traffic!


I'll be rounding these up every week---as the teams march forward towards history----so keep an eye here for the latest developments from your space race! You can also sign up for the XPRIZE newsletter to get exciting innovation news in your inbox, and follow the #GLXP on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook (where yours truly is your community manager for all things awesome happening in space today).


-Nick Azer


[November 1st-November 6th, 2014.]

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