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5 years to a major milestone

It all started in 2008, when Robert Boehme first heard of the Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) and got a few other adventurous and skilled minds together to join in 2009 as the “Part-Time Scientists”. It’s been a long time since then, and originally the GLXP thought it would already be over by now, and recognized that the competition wasn’t progressing as planned, as there were still no teams with definite launch plans. This caused the GLXP to create the Milestone Prizes (MP), a way to incentivize and reward teams that have done their due diligence and are near the technical ability to launch a mission, even if they are far from the financial ability. The MPs were conceived, drafted, finalized and executed in a short amount of time, with about 2 months for teams to respond, which may seem like sufficient time to respond to a query about the plans we have been working on for the last five years, but, if I may remind you, the “Part-Time” in “Part-Time Scientists” means most of us have day jobs as well.
So when the final version of MP dropped in mid-September, we scrambled to get everything we had worked on documented, identified what we had put off until later, and came up with a workable solution. We assembled it all together, checked to make sure everything was there (just kidding, we barely had time to check anything), and submitted plans for all three categories: Lander, Rover, and Camera.
Our submissions went to the GXLP’s distinguished expert panel, and we’ve just gotten the results: Our Rover and Camera plans, designs, and tests were selected to be in the top four of current teams, but our Lander entry didn’t make it into the more restricted top three. Nonetheless, we are excited to be among the teams tracked in the Accomplishment Round and eligible for up to $750K in Prizes for our work. This is a major milestone for all the work we have performed in the last five years.

In the Accomplishment Round we will be following the timeline of development and testing for our Rover and Camera, and, since we went through the trouble of meticulously planning it out, our Lander as well. Some of the tests, like our planned Analog Mission Simulation, will be attended by members of the GLXP expert panel. The Analog Mission Simulation is our keystone test, where we will bring all of our mission components (Lander, Rover, Camera, and Mission Control) to the Erzberg in central Austria, the closest environment to the lunar surface we can find on our planet, and perform integrated testing with the help of the Austrian Space Forum (Österreichisches Weltraum Forum) and Vienna University of Technology Space Team (Technische Universität Wien Space Team).

Aside from the panel experts, we will also be inviting international media, and possibly representatives from our sponsors (hint, hint) to the test. If that hint was too subtle: If you want your name and/or logo to appear at the event where one of the most innovative and hands-on private space exploration organizations demonstrates their cutting-edge, low-cost technology to the GXLP’s experts and the world, please let us know.


We have a lot planned for the year. 2014 is an exciting time to be a Part-Time Scientist. However, we’re sure that the other teams won’t be idle either. Each of the selected teams will be keen to win their Prizes as well.  So the GXLP’s plans are likely to work out, and this year will be an exciting time for all of the GLXP, including you, the spectator.

May the best team win.

The Part-Time Scientists

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