Meet The 5 Teams That Are Launching To The Moon This Year
The race is on - the five finalist teams in the Google Lunar XPRIZE have been set, and they all have rocket launch contracts to go to the Moon in 2017.
$30 million in prizes is on the line, including the $20 million grand prize for whomever gets there first, and completes the competition goals.
These teams are employing a variety of technology to land first and claim the fame, and they hail from Japan, India, the United States, and Israel, with launches set to happen from places as far-flung as California, USA; Sriharikota, India; and Mahia, New Zealand. Here’s a look at all five teams, and their technology that’s set to make big space history.
Tel Aviv, Israel
SpaceIL’s “hopping” moon lander
The first Google Lunar XPRIZE team to secure their launch contract, SpaceIL signed a deal with SpaceX (through Spaceflight Services) to launch in late 2017. Using a “hopper” style of craft, where they will land on the lunar surface, fly 500m, and then touch down again to claim the prize, SpaceIL looks to inspire education across Israel (and the world), and motivate more people to enters the fields of science & technology.
Cape Canaveral, Florida
The first private organization to get approval from their government to operate on the Moon (a necessary step for international space law), United States space start-up Moon Express is ready to bring the Moon back in a big way to Florida’s Space Coast. Using their hopping Moon lander (see the test version above), Moon Express looks to open up a bright future for the “eighth continent,” and create a private business in space. They’ve signed up with New Zealand’s up-and-coming Rocket Lab to launch from Mahia, New Zealand in late 2017.
Why buy a ride when you can build one? Synergy Moon team member Interorbital Systems will serve as their launch provider, using a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry the team to the moon from an open-ocean location off the California coast during the second half of 2017. Synergy Moon loves big dreams, and they’re ready to take their Moonshot!
Is that WALL-E? No, but it’s Team Indus’ Moon rover, ECA! This little robot is carrying a big mission, as the Bangalore, India startup will send it on a lander (along with science and instruments such as cameras from French national space agency CNES) to race 500m for the big prize. ECA won’t be alone, as fellow team Hakuto will be riding along on the lander (see below), launching on the tried-and-true PSLV rocket of India’s ISRO space agency (and their private wing) on December 28th, 2017, arriving just in time for Republic Day 2018.
Japan’s popular space team Hakuto has scored some big partnerships, including au by KDDI, Suzuki, rock band Sakanaction, and a longterm Moon-resources-exploration plan with the Japanese space agency JAXA; and now they’re lined up to launch on Team Indus’ Moon lander! The Indian and Japanese teams will work together to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE race, launching for the Moon on December 28th from Sriharikota, India.
Welcome to the New Space Race! Use #GLXP to join the conversation and stay tuned for competition updates and team news!
Author: Nick Azer; Editors: Susan Emmer, Ben Ellenbecker