Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Space Race 2.0

By Fred White

Last week, Google and X PRIZE Foundation offered a multimillion-dollar prize to the first team to land a rover on the moon. Let’s not be shy. If you have the experience, and connections for launching expertise, systems guidance robotics, telecommunications and a source for funding, this is your big chance.

“The Google Lunar X PRIZE calls on entrepreneurs, engineers and visionaries from around the world to return us to the lunar surface and explore this environment for the benefit of all humanity,” Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, said in a statement.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Google’s moonshot

Jeff Foust
Space Review

Even since SpaceShipOne captured the $10-million Ansari X Prize almost three years ago, many in the space community wondered what the X Prize Foundation would do as an encore. The success of the competition—not only in technical development of a vehicle that could meet the prize requirements but also the creation of a new industry that has garnered investment many times the value of the prize—generated a lot of interest in prizes as a means of incentivizing innovation. NASA created the Centennial Challenges prize program in response to the X Prize and has organized a number of competitions, from lunar lander analogues to astronaut gloves. Those prizes, though, have been smaller and lower profile than the original X Prize, and the overall program has had problems getting even a sliver of the overall NASA budget. At the other extreme, Robert Bigelow created the $50-million America’s Space Prize for a vehicle capable of carrying crews to his planned inflatable orbital habitats. However, the tight schedule—the prize expires January 10, 2010—and a strict prohibition on the use of government funding led Bigelow himself to conclude last year that it’s highly unlikely anyone will be able to claim that prize. (See “Bigelow Aerospace’s big day at the rodeo”, The Space Review, July 24, 2006.)

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