Monday, March 31, 2008

Late March Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup

Here's the latest on the Google Lunar X PRIZE. A lot of big news happens in a week with this competition.

RLV News has a press release, a news article, and related links on Celestis, Inc and Google Lunar X PRIZE competitor Odyssey Moon reaching an agreement to deliver memorial containers to the Moon or lunar orbit while they go for the prize. From the linked MSNBC article:

The cost starts at $10,000 for a small quantity of ashes from one person ... Chafer said he expected about 1,000 capsules containing ashes to be launched on the first lunar mission, expected in late 2009 or early 2010, and about 5,000 on future flights.

Here's more on the Celestis side from Sign on San Diego:

The Houston firm, on hand yesterday at the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association's meeting at the San Diego Convention Center, announced plans to launch capsules containing human cremated remains – at up to $30,000 a ride – to the moon as early as next year.

The article includes a pictures of a Celestis capsule.

Meanwhile, the Space Fellowship has an interesting interview of LunaTrex lead Pete Bitar. It's clear from the interview that they're not a "win the prize and go home" team; they want to make a small-sat support business. They want to use electric propulsion, and plan to start some robot prizes of their own.

PR Newswire has a press release announcing another Google Lunar X PRIZE team hopeful, PropelX. They have a sponsor onboard, the Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley and a prototype lunar rover. They plan an official announcement at the conference. I wonder if they'd want to join one of the other teams with specialties in different areas?

The Carnegie Mellon University Tartan has an article describing the CMU team and Astrobotic. CMU has a graduate class "Advanced Mobile Robot Development" that seems to fit in nicely with the effort. Meanwhile, the contributions of the other university on the team, the University of Arizona, are described by the Wildcat Online:

The team will also pursue the heritage and distance prizes. The heritage prize will entail imaging man-made artifacts at the Apollo 11 landing site where Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon in 1969. For the distance prize, the team will attempt to get its lander to travel at least five kilometers on the moon's surface.

At the Huffington Post, Ben Rosen puts a spin on the work of his brother, comsat pioneer Harold Rosen, in the Southern California Selene Group (SCSG) team. The team's solution has some commonality with his early comsat work.

Finally, at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page, there are new posts from Micro-Space, Odyssey Moon, and Quantum3 that go into the "why's" of the GLXP.