Moon Express Gunning For $20 Million Google Lunar XPrize

By  //  January 23, 2015

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

Moon Express team based out of California

ABOVE VIDEO: Moon Express is gunning for the $20 million Google Lunar XPrize. We went down to Florida to watch a test of the team’s lunar lander and to get an early look at its historic new facility.

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – The criteria for winning the grand $20 million Google Lunar XPrize seems fairly straightforward: land on the moon, cross a distance of 500 meters and send back high-definition footage to Earth along the way.

The natural solution to the problem, indeed the one that most of the GLXP competitors have envisioned, is to gently deposit a rover on the lunar surface and then let it pick its way across the required distance, dodging rocks and other moon junk along the way.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based Moon Express team, however, is taking a rather different approach. If all goes according to plan, the team’s lander will make a soft, controlled landing on the moon, look around in high-definition, then lift off again.

The lander will touch down a second time at a location at least 500 meters away from the first, completing the challenge and, if it does it before any of the other teams, taking home the $20 million Grand Prize.

VIDEO SERIES: Hubble Telescope Celebrates 25th AnniversaryRelated Story:
VIDEO SERIES: Hubble Telescope Celebrates 25th Anniversary

In many ways, this simplifies things greatly. Rovers have a tendency to get stuck, break down or simply fail to deploy correctly. Also, designing and building one from scratch is no mean feat.

“No rover” equals none of those issues, and less mass to haul off the planet in the first place.