Google’s Lunar XPrize is a privately-funded, $30 million competition, requiring competitors to not only land a rover on the moon but to explore at least 500 meters and transmit HD video and images back to Earth.
The first team to successfully complete this task will be declared the winner of the competition, which was first established back in 2007.
Obviously, rovers/robots have come a long way in 8 years and two of the frontrunners, the Japanese HAKUTO team, and Astrobotic — have teamed up to deploy their missions to the moon next year!
What’s better is the fact that both will be aboard the same SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, setting up a potential race across the lunar surface upon landing.
Astrobotic’s CEO said in a press release, “We envision a ‘NASCAR on the moon’ scenario, where competing teams land together, and countries can cheer on their team to the finish line. HAKUTO is the first team signed to fulfill our dream of the first race beyond Earth’s orbit.”
Of course, before reaching the moon’s surface, a myriad of things could happen to prevent the NASCAR on the moon scenario, such as an explosion or faulty landing.
Even if the teams land successfully, they have to worry about technical difficulties that could potentially arise before traveling the mandated 500 meters.
Regardless, if a small, private company outside of a NASA is capable of succeeding at this level of moon exploration, it would be a giant step forward for the private space exploration industry as a whole.