XPRIZE teams get more time for moonshots

Moon rover
A prototype moon rover makes an appearance at the 2007 kickoff of the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. (XPRIZE Photo)

The Google Lunar XPRIZE finalists now have $4.75 million more to shoot for with the moon missions they’re planning, and more time to shoot for the moon as well.

The competition was set up a decade ago to encourage commercial moon exploration, with Google donating the prize money and the nonprofit XPRIZE organization handling the logistics.

A grand prize of $20 million was set aside to the first privately funded team to land a probe on the moon, get it to move at least 500 meters (yards) on the surface, and have it send back high-definition video and images. The second team to accomplish the feat could win $5 million.

As many as 25 teams vied for the prize over the years, but in January the field was whittled down to five: Hakuto, Moon Express, SpaceIL, Synergy Moon and TeamIndus.

The teams were facing a launch deadline of Dec, 31, 2017 – and although all five teams have been saying they could make that deadline, it was shaping up to be a close thing.

Today XPRIZE said the deadline has been reworked, giving teams until March 31, 2018, to complete their missions. The 2017 launch deadline no longer applies, XPRIZE spokesman Eric Desatnik told GeekWire via email.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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