back to article Google encourages 10 teams to rocket to the moon

Google and the X Prize Foundation held a ceremony today for the first ten contestants to enter their $30m race to land a privately funded space craft on the Moon. Eight new teams have joined the previous two entrants, who all gathered at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California to preview their intentions for the purse. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Astrobotic Technology

    I vote for these guys.

    I would LOVE to see vision of the old Apollo 11 site, I would also love to shut up the looney-tunes who think the moon landing was faked.

    But then again the nut-jobs would probably say Moon 2.0 was also faked....

  2. Grant
    Thumb Down

    learn from history

    After the first X-prize was won and a couple on contestants who were close dropped out, the people running X-prize said they should not have had a winner takes all prze but should have a second to do it and third also. Since having somr diverisity in methods and technology is very important to find a god technology long term. So since then what do they do, a bunch winner takes all X-prizes because it makes good PR.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    moon 2.0...

    So, basically all the craft will be invited there by 20 of their spaceship friends emailing them to say its cool, but when they actually arrive, they find the moon a bit slow and with not much substance to it. Then they all get bored and drift back into space again?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Its harder now than in 1969.

    The moons moving away from the earth ...

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Lets be realistic

    The original X-prize was basically a hack. Since you didn't have to achieve orbital velocity, the problem was how to build a plane that had enough extra boost to go exo-atmospheric. In the grand scheme of things that isn't that hard a problem, and it wasn't surprising when someone won.

    The latest X-prize (or should it be G-prize) involves getting something into space, not only achieving orbital velocity, but also getting enough energy into the think for an orbital transition over to the moon. Being accurate enough to get into Lunar Orbit, and then having enough control to descend and land on the moon. Don't forget of course that the moon has no atmosphere to glide or parachute in. Finally, you have to be able to control a rover at the other end - which is probably one of the easier parts of the mission to be honest. There are reasons it cost billions in the first place, and hasn't been repeated by anyone since. Its damned hard, and not that useful.

    If someone genuinely wanted to promote private exploration of space, the next prize would have been a logical continuation of the original X-prize. For example, launch a small object into low-earth orbit to transmit back to earth. Basically achieve the same things as the early Sputnik missions. Once you have that nailed, you can expand the prize to launching medium or high earth orbit, accurate orbit insertion positions, and then consider moon missions and the like.

  6. Ian Ferguson

    We're whaler's on the moon

    We carry a harpoon

    But there ain't no whales

    So we tell our tall tale

    And sing our whaling tune!

  7. Funkster
    Thumb Up

    @Let's be realistic

    There's no point at all running a competition to put up a sputnik-alike, as there are already a lot of small companies (including several British ones) building and selling commercially viable orbital space vehicles. Surrey Small Satellites springs to mind, and they produce satellites that do things a lot more useful than just saying "Ping!" every so often.

    The first X-prize was great because it put not a thing, but a HUMAN BEAN in space without the backing of the military. Also the winning craft was certainly not a hack - it appeared to be a very neat piece of engineering with some great innovations (Rubber and nitrous oxide throttlable solid-fuel rocket engine? Inspired!).

    Thumbs up for the new competition by Why oh Why oh Why (Dear Points of View...) did they have to call it Moon 2.0?

    Thumbs up icon to go with the truly awful photo.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Google = Jesus?

    ""I want to thank the lord Jesus Christ for this opportunity," said team leader Richard Speck"

    So since it was, in fact, Google that gave him this opportunity (I don't see anywhere in the article about Jesus getting out his cheque book for the winners), is he implying that Google is, in fact, Jesus Himself?

    Mine's the Cardinal robes please...

  9. Tim
    Thumb Up


    Red Whitaker will do well, he's a bit of a legend. Quantum3 though? No chance. As noble as their intentions might be a clutch of big government politicians is never going to lead a successful private moon shot.

    I reckon the technical challenges of doing this make it far more worthwhile than just doing an LEO satellite effort. Having the capability to get out of Earth orbit in non-governmental hands could make things very interesting in the future.

    All good - all except that awful 2.0 tagline. Good old Brin is still suffering from Hubris 1.0.

  10. The Mighty Spang

    for fork's sake

    I hope the people having ideas about putting impact craters on the moon have a bit more originality than the people who called it "moon 2.0". I am incandescent with loathing for the nobhead who thought that one up.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    '"I want to thank the lord Jesus Christ for this opportunity," said team leader Richard Speck at the press event, holding up a piece of paper with a cross printed on it.'

    Is it so *VERY* wrong to hope this one goes tits-up in a thrillingly telegenic coast-to-coast tribute-to-Gerry-Anderson launch pad explosion?

  12. Tom
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    @ Mike

    My thoughts exactly :)

  13. SpeakerToAliens

    Of course you wouldn't *have* to use a rocket

    Anyone remember Gerald Bull? Though politically misguided towards the end, he came so very close.

  14. 4a$$Monkey
    Thumb Up

    mining resources on the Moon to send to Earth

    Having watched the video I don’t think that’s what they were implying. They were talking about mining materials to build satellites etc. It doesn’t make sense to mine stuff on the moon to send back to earth (unless it was really rare and in demand). But being able to mine raw materials on the moon for off world production of spacecraft, habitations or equipment is a well established idea... it’s much cheaper than having to lift it out of Earth’s gravity.

    The person who came up with the tag line Moon 2.0 needs to be put down – quietly and with as little further suffering as possible... well maybe a bit of suffering.

  15. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    Micro-space = Micro-intellect

    Jesus H. Christ on a Segway, gimme a goddamn' BREAK. Oh, well; I guess there's one in every crowd. Talk about hubris; looks like this Speck guy is suffering from Hubris _2_.0.

    And, no, it would _not_ be at _all_ wrong to hope the Jesus Rocket does a re-enactment of Vanguard I. (While quite depressing in the context of its era, that's still among my all-time favorite launch malfunction footage.)

    "Three, two, one... ooo-oohhhhh! Aahh-hhhhh!"


  16. Steven Bloomfield

    This will end up as a film

    It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

    Death Race 2000

    Rat Race

    Wacky Races

    X-Race2.0 - The Moon!

    I'd watch that... could be quite a funny film.

  17. Stu

    Whole different ball game here.

    I agree with the anonymous coward 'Lets be realistic' comments above.

    I think its seriously ambitious and wont take place before 2012, one of the huge challenges the original prize simply didnt tackle is the ability to get the craft travelling AROUND the globe at high speed and achieving safe re-entry at shear angles like the shuttle does - the airfoil gets mighty hot when it hits the atmosphere at tens of thousands of mph.

    Straight up and straight back down are far easier to accomplish.

    However there is at least one saving grace, in that a lot of the billions gone into the Apollo moon landings were spent on the human element.

    This prize is about sending a robot, something that can withstand some mighty Gs and doesnt need seriously expensive and heavy life support and anti-radiation components.

    @Funkster - I sincerely hope you meant HUMAN BEING instead of HUMAN BEAN!! ;-)

  18. andy gibson

    Cash incentives

    There were other cash incentives long before the 1927 Atlantic Crossing.

    The Daily Mail offered £1000 for the first person to fly across the English Channel way back in 1909, and £10,000 to the first flight between the US and Ireland.

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  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    "Assess" the Apollo 11 site???

    > [Astrobotic Technology] has set a goal of landing a rover

    > in the Sea of Tranquility and assessing the Apollo 11

    > mission landing site.

    Just what do they mean by "assessing"? The risk of defacing one of the most historic sites in the history of the human species is enormous. Not just with a rover trundling over footprints, either. After all, the lander has to target a spot near the site ... oh, but what could possibly go wrong?

    I hope Astrobotic comes to their senses and does something that has more scientific value, instead of PR attention-grabbing value.

  21. Ru

    Git orf moi mooooon!

    I wonder if anyone actually has any realistic claim to own bits of the moon. It sounds like a big scam to me, much like the 'name a star!' people. You pays your money, and gets your little certificate but thats all. Not worth the paper it was printed on.

  22. Morely Dotes

    My own proposal

    The launch vehicle will use well-known principles to overcome Earth's gravity without the use of chemical rockets, and upon arrival on the Lunar surface, the rovers (nine in all) will be released. The rovers will be designated Kinetics and numbered 1 through 9; thus K-1, etc.

    The full-length one with the rather long and colorful muffler, please.

  23. Not That Andrew

    Re: Surrey and satellites

    While Surrey and other companies commercially manufacture and sell satellites, they don't launch them. They use the services of the national space agencies to launch them. Surrey seem to mostly use the Russians. That is why encouraging private enterprise to launch a satellite into stable orbit _themselves_ and maintain it in orbit is so important - more important that going to the moon.

  24. Robert Hill

    Mach 25...

    Just keep that number in your head...that is about the minimum speed they must get to to get into Earth orbit. The X-Prize winners only had to hit about Mach 3.

    Achieving orbit is still not that easy, and moreover is FILLED with failures. Lots of launchers have operational success rates in the 60-75% range, even the ones that have been around a bit, and were built by teams with lots of testing and large budgets.

    This will not be a layup - exotic methods might prove interesting, as the lander really doesn't have to mass very much (there is even a prize for crashing, really). Even Gerrard K. O'Neil's railgun might be an option. Maybe a ballistic launch, and a Hall-effect thruster for the moon rendevous?

    Big and dumb, or small and interesting? Hmmmm, should be interesting.

    The icon is obvious, because aliens have already been to the moon...

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