The Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition to place a privately funded robot on the surface of the moon, get it to explore at least 500 meters of space, and have it transmit high-definition images and video back to Earth.
The deadline for the $30 million competition has been extended to Dec. 31, 2016, but all teams must submit documentation detailing a scheduled launch by Dec. 31, 2015 to continue in the competition.
Space travel is not cheap, but a lot of people are interested in it. The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition was started in an effort to find a cost-effective means of traveling to the moon, challenging pioneers to transport robots on a budget. The original deadline for the competition was set for Dec. 31, 2015. With the deadline extended, teams (receiving nothing more than 10 percent of their funding from the government) have more time to polish their technology and be the best at sending a robot to the moon.
"We continue to see significant progress from our Google Lunar XPRIZE teams, most recently demonstrated in the pursuit of the Milestone Prizes, in which teams exhibited substantial technological achievements that will ultimately support their missions," said Robert K. Weiss, XPRIZE president and vice chairman.
Weiss added that Google and XPRIZE know that the task at hand is extremely difficult in various aspects, and it is because of this that the deadline for the competition has been extended. Through the competition, the organizers are of the firm belief that low-cost lunar travel will be achieved.
Milestone Prizes are breakthroughs made by competing teams in categories such as Imaging, Mobility and Landing. Up to $6 million in prizes await teams at a private awarding event on Jan. 26, 2015 at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
A couple of Milestone Prizes have been awarded already to team Astrobotic from the U.S. The team won $250,000 for work on an Imaging Subsystem and $500,000 for the Mobility category.
Winners of Milestone Prizes are picked by a panel of judges made up of experts in science, the space industry and aeronautics, evaluating numerous technology and field tests throughout the course of one year.
Aside from Astrobotic, other teams part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition include Hakuto from Japan, Moon Express from the U.S., Part-Time Scientists from Germany, and Team Indus from India.
One man has been to the moon but only five percent of its land area, comparable to North America and Brazil, put together has been explored.