For the last 10 years, Google promised to award $20 million to the first private group to send a rover to the moon’s surface. Many contenders wanted to win Google's Lunar Xprize, and teams from all over the world worked incessantly to accomplish the feat. However, it seems like none of the competitors can land a rover on the moon by March 31.
Google Lunar XPrize
The Google Lunar XPrize was announced in 2007 with 2012 as the initial deadline. The rules of the competition required participants to build a rover, land it on the lunar surface, make it travel 500 meters, and relay HD photos and videos to Earth as proof. The team to accomplish the mission wins $20 million.
Now, Google decided not to extend deadline which is set for March 21, 2018. With this time frame, all four contenders for the prize money are in a pinch. None of the teams are in a position to achieve the mission by the deadline. The deadline for completing the mission has been extended many times in the past.
“Google does not have plans at this time to extend the deadline again, however, we are so thrilled with the progress made by these teams over the last ten years,” Google said.
The Four Contenders For The Award
There are currently four teams competing for the Lunar Xprize: India-based TeamIndus, Silicon Valley-based Moon Express, Israel-based company SpaceIL, and Synergy Moon.
Moon Express is not just interested in Xprize. The company's main goal is to start mining natural resources on the moon. It had the necessary funding to send a rover to the lunar surface but the competition is not the company's main priority. Needless to say, the company is still planning to launch a spacecraft next year.
SpaceIL had collaborated with SpaceX but it couldn't meet the deadline due to a shortage of funds. The team had to raise $7.5 million in 2017 to stay in the competition.
“Give us another few months—until the end of 2018,” SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman said.
TeamIndus had a setback when its launch contract with the Indian Space Research Organisation fell apart after failing to pay installments to ISRO. Synergy Moon is in no condition to meet the deadline either since the firm has its own set of problems.
Except for Moon Express, none of these companies revealed what their next step will be after devoting the last few years to Google's Lunar Xprize competition.