Thursday, February 21, 2008

10 Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams (9 New) in Major Announcement

Yes, the Google Lunar X PRIZE went from 1 team to 10 teams all in 1 announcement!

Some of the new teams are already familiar because although they weren't officially registered they were well publicized ahead of time as Google Lunar X PRIZE teams. Some of them are familiar from past prize competitions like the Ansari X PRIZE and the Lunar Lander Challenge. Some are brand new, as far as I know. There's lots of reporting and commentary already on the announcement, so I'll present some links but I'll try to keep them to ones that strike me as providing different information.

First, check out the official press release from the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Don't overlook the fact that not only does the press release announce and describe all of the teams, but it also announces a new $2M prize for the first place winner from Space Florida, as long as that winner launches from that state. Here's the press release from Space Florida on their strategic partnership with the X PRIZE Foundation. I've had other posts where I've hoped that more bonus prizes would be added (or existing ones ehanced), and this one makes perfect sense all around. Maybe Space Florida should even allow the 2nd place team to win their prize, or some of it, if the Grand Prize winner happens to launch from somewhere else. Second place brings just as much launch business to Florida as first place ... especially if there are a couple successful Florida launches in the middle somewhere that don't happen to win either prize.

Now I'll present some of the other news on the announcement with briefer commentary:

Cnet - This includes some comments from Google's Sergei Brin, the CMU Team's Red Whittaker, Micro-Space, and Odyssey Moon, not to mention some skepticism on the idea of Space-Based Solar Power built from lunar resources from one of the teams.

Red Orbit - This one goes into a lot of detail on the Carnegie Mellon University Moon Prize Team, which is working with Raytheon and the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Lab and Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in the combined form of Astrobotic Tech. This is a "don't miss" article for anyone interested in GLXP teams. It has a great overview of this prominent GLXP team, demonstrating what each team member brings to the table. From the article:

LPL will provide its premier expertise in designing, building and operating imaging camera systems, Lauretta said. LPL will also convert the Phoenix Science Operations Center by adding such facilities as a clean room and a high bay because the spacecraft will be assembled on campus.

Silicon Valley Mercury News - features one of the team leaders, Adil Jafry, who like many space entrepreneurs has succeeded in another industry and now is trying his luck (a phrase that generally means "skill and motivation") at the space industry.

WBST - An Indiana station covers a local team, LunaTrex. You may have heard of some of the people leader Pete Bitar is working with:

He said the team includes Orion Propulsion and High Altitude Research, both based in Huntsville, Ala.; MC Squared of Phoenix, Ariz.; and Orbit Frontiers of Lafayette.

Other group members come from the University of Dayton (Ohio) and Purdue University, along with several aerospace professionals.

IndyStar - gives another view of the same team.

Popular Science - shows us the logos of the 10 teams.

MSNBC - has a general article with some artists' depictions of 2 of the teams' systems. It's also at

Wired Science - gives an overview of the 10 teams.

You can also learn about the teams the same way we've been learning about Odyssey Moon: go to the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page. Odyssey Moon has been blogging for a couple months now - since they were officially registered - and now the rest of the teams are expected to do the same. You'll find an enormous amount of information about the teams if you click on their links and followed their detailed team descriptions and initial posts, as well. Speaking of posts, with this long post I actually haven't had a chance to read the Teams' information myself yet ... I'll probably absorb it all gradually, maybe 1 team per day.