Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lunar X PRIZE in the Magazines

The X PRIZE Foundation points to another news article on their latest prize, this time from Popular Mechanics. Earlier they had an article (linked by this one) that made it sound almost impossible to win since the team would have to build a launcher, but that requirement never existed, so this newer article (by the same author) presents the challenge as much more achievable. Not easy ... not certain to be won ... but achievable. It should be very interesting to see how it all turns out.

Also see this RLV News post.

Space.com has a detail look at the CMU Lunar X PRIZE team. Don't look for a lot of details from the team like you see from some of the Lunar Lander Challenge competitors:

Neither Whittaker nor Gump would say much about Team X-PLORE's technical approach at this early stage, and Gump said that is unlikely to change even as the approach matures.

Of course, as is so often the case, the business end is as important, if not more so, than the technical end:

But both Whittaker and Gump said they believed securing early financing, either in the form of corporate sponsorship or a benevolent angel, is critical.

"What is clear from the Ansari X Prize is that you need to have solid funding soon — a Paul Allen equivalent who can make sure that you are motoring away at a good speed," Gump said. "One of our team's top priorities is securing that early funding."

They have some ideas on how to get the financing:

The key to profitability, according to Whittaker, is making sure that there are a series of payoff opportunities for sponsors along the way to the actual competition. Auctioning off naming rights and holding contests to select people who will actually get to drive the rover once it lands were among the examples he and Gump mentioned.

The article also goes into some of the technical challenges, like rad-hardened CCD arrays.