Sunday, April 13, 2008

Google Lunar Prize Pictures, Videos, Credibility, and Investors

The latest team posts at the Google Lunar X PRIZE site include more pictures from Astrobotic (hill climbing and carousel testing). I'd like to mention that the initial view of the pictures is pretty small, but you can get a better view by clicking on the pictures. That will take you to the Astrobotic Picasa Web Album (GLXP sponsor Google will be glad to know the team's using their Web Album). Once you're at the Picasa site, you'll also notice an Astrobotic's Public Gallery link that gets you to a number of Astrobotic photo albums with lots more pictures. With these or the original photos, you should be able to "Download Photo" and get an even better view that may even allow you to zoom in farther. What you probably could hardly recognize in the original photo should become crystal-clear.

The GLXP site also has one from Micro-Space on credibility to inspire investors. Micro-Space hopes to demonstrate credibility with suborbital tests using UP Aerospace rockets to demonstrate various Micro-Space GLXP operations.

I suspect that this need to demonstrate credibility through impressive hardware demonstrations is going fall even more heavily on very small teams. It may make sense for some teams to look at each others' strengths and weaknesses and consider joining forces.

Speaking of investors and credibility, RLV News links to an article from CNN Money on the NewSpace type of commercial space (as opposed to traditional commercial space like the comsat industry) and the current lack of venture capitalist funding for this approach. The Google Lunar X PRIZE, Ansari X PRIZE, and the X PRIZE Foundation's Peter Diamandis are featured prominently in the article. There is some discussion of hoping for a "Netscape Moment" in the article, an idea that brings to mind some cynical thoughts. I'm more inclined to hope the NewSpace industry (including the prize-related portion) comes up with a number of solid, steady, realiable, profitable-but-financially-unspectacular businesses delivering valuable services that inspire VCs to invest prudently to grow the industry than to hope for a Netscape Moment.