Lunar Roundup: National Authority

Lunar Roundup: National Authority

Welcome to this week’s Lunar Roundup! A power rankings-style look at who & what’s been “Awesome!” over the past week in the Google Lunar X PRIZE.

A lot of national forces getting involved! SpaceIL picked up a dominant Israeli telecom sponsor; Astrobotic picked up a NASA contract; the nation of Cyprus is getting involved with team Synergy Moon; and there were some fun videos this week, to boot, from Astrobotic and Plan B!

Your moon-race highlights for February 6th-February 11th:


1) Bezeq!

SpaceIL Rendering via Paz en Tierra Santa

The Times of Israel posted a great article about team SpaceIL---including the news that they've landed a very big sponsor: dominant Israeli communications firm Bezeq!

"The entire [mission] will be transmitted back to earth via Bezeq optical-fiber technology. And, in fact, Bezeq’s fiberoptic cable, along with an Israeli flag, will be the country’s 'gift' to the moon: The cable will remain up there, for the benefit of future space travelers." -Ran Langoun, deputy CEO of Bezeq.

So if your future vacation home on the Moon could use fiber-optic, you'll be set! Bezeq used to be the government phone & cable company in Israel, and still maintains a Bell-like presence.

Here's a pretty slick (though, in Hebrew) ad for Bezeq:

The Times of Israel article also has a whole bunch of great quotes from the team about their mission, so check it out!:

"It’s the 'Apollo Effect'. We’ve seen how space exploration has propelled whole economies and countries to reach new, stronger levels of innovation. Israel is ripe for a revolution like that, and SpaceIL is going to make it happen.”

2) NASA!

President Obama rolling out the National Robotics Initiative at team Astrobotic's home, Carnegie Mellon.

Team Astrobotic's leaders were awarded a NASA contract as part of the National Robotics Initiative! The between-$150,000-and-$1-million contract will have them looking into sinkholes, sand, and other non-geometric threats to rovers and robots! 

A sandtrap is what killed the Spirit rover on Mars. Here's one of many NASA videos on their attempts to save Spirit; Astrobotic's work will be looking into how to detect and avoid this kind of thing:

3) Cyprus!

Cyprus looking awesome from space.

The nation of Cyprus's new Space Office is now a member of team Synergy Moon!:

"Sotira Trifourki, Director of the Cyprus Space Office, has developed an education programme that will allow the public to directly participate in exploring space through being able to design, build and participate in the launch of satellites and space craft which will lead to Cyprus having the capability to partake in manned space flight."

“To date, only 500 astronauts have gone into space; with the rise of Citizen Science projects and private companies developing the capabilities for space travel, the time has come for Cyprus to develop its plans to join the international community in exploring space." -Press Release

Check out the press release for all the initial details. It's great to see nations picking the Google Lunar X PRIZE as their ticket to space involvement!

4) Mellon!

Carnegie Mellon and Astrobotic made news again with a great video: student researcher Corinne Vassallo explaining her totally-awesome work on the team's projects! A fun and well-spoken look into the daily life of a team:

5) Baby vs. Rover!

And in our most serious item for the week, Plan B uploaded a video of a baby vs. one of their prototype rover wheels. Will the wheel survive?! Watch to find out who wins in this adorable showdown (and also see some weaving of fibers):

Plan B also posted some other quirky-yet-related videos: the knitting of 3D-printed mold parts, and some shirtless lake testing of communications systems in beautiful British Columbia [part 1 and part 2].

Honorable Mentions:


I’ll be rounding these up on a weekly basis, so keep an eye here for all the most awesome developments.

For the full skinny on everything that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos!

And if you have any favorite stories that I didn’t post here...share ’em in the comments below!

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