Lunar XPRIZE Relaunches Moon Mission This Time Without A Cash Incentive or Google


XPRIZE relaunches its moon program Lunar XPRIZE, which is open to private companies. This time, however, it receives no funding from Google and no cash incentive.

In an official statement, XPRIZE announced the culmination of its lunar landing mission that did not yield winners. XPRIZE extends its gratitude to Google for taking the initiative to invest $30 million in the lunar space flight, which ran from September 2007 to March 31, 2018.

"While that competition is now over, there are at least five teams with launch contracts that hope to land on the lunar surface in the next two years," said Dr. Peter Diamandis, XPRIZE founder, and chairman.

Since its decade-long contract with Google has expired, XPRIZE is opening its doors for brand new sponsors who will be interested to put their logo on the moon.

Banking On Private Companies

Aside from Google's funding, XPRIZE is able to raise more than $300 million from corporate sponsorships, government deals, and venture deals. The company's intent to pursue Lunar XPRIZE is to help organizations that have invested in the program take a vantage point in the human space race.

"These space entrepreneurs are developing long-term business models around lunar transportation, and we cannot give up on them now. I am confident that one of these companies will land on the Moon in the near future and am excited for the next chapter of this new space race," said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director at XPRIZE.

Although there's no cash prize, major Lunar XPRIZE teams like Moon Express, HAKUTO, and TeamIndus expressed enthusiasm for the future of the initiative.

Takeshi Hakamada, ispace, inc.'s CEO and founder, said the Google Lunar XPRIZE opened a different understanding of why a space race is necessary to advance its technologies and management to a whole new level.

Rahul Narayan of TeamIndus said projects like Lunar XPRIZE is crucial to ensure that future space flights become successful.

Unmet Needs

In 2007, XPRIZE launched its Lunar XPRIZE in an effort to assist private enterprises develop and fly their own space missions. Google took on the project and donated funds specifically to reward participants who are able to perform the required tasks.

The participating teams were assigned certain missions in space such as exploring the moon's surface and conduct live broadcasts. XPRIZE offered a $20-million prize money for the first team who will successfully complete the tasks before March 31, 2018. The second placer is supposed to receive $5 million.

The deadline was moved a couple of times to give the teams leeway, but none of the teams were able to meet the requirement. The prize money was then returned to Google.

"We appreciate Google's commitment and respect their decision in having their prize purse end on March 31, 2018, regardless of team progress, and launch scenarios," said Katherine Schelbert, XPRIZE spokesperson, in an interview with The Verge.

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