Astrobotic rover competing for Google Lunar X-Prize

The Google Lunar X-Prize has announced new Milestone Prizes, which will provide technological stepping stones (and near-term financial help) for teams that are competing for the $30 million grand prize.

Five teams have been selected to compete as finalists for the Milestone Prizes, which have a total purse of $6 million to be awarded this year.

Winning the $30-million Google Lunar X-Prize requires landing a probe on the surface of the Moon, moving at least 500 meters on the surface, and sending back specified data. Teams have been struggling to come up with funding for the competition, though. As a result, the X-Prize Foundation has been tweaking the rules to help competitors along.

The new Milestone Prizes and selected teams are:

Multiple teams can win each Milestone Prize.

A panel of judges chose the finalists from over 30 applications. To compete for Milestone Prizes, teams had to submit documentation defining the key technical risks they face and how they intend to address them. Finalists must now accomplish the milestones outlined in their submissions through testing and mission simulations under the scrutiny of the judges. Teams have until September 2014 to complete the tasks.

The Milestone Prizes are similar to the “progress payments” commonly found in commercial aerospace contracts. Any Milestone Prize payments a team recieves will be deducted from future grand or second-place prize winnings of that team.

Competing for the Milestone Prizes is an optional part of the Google Lunar X-Prize Competition. Teams that that were not chosen to compete for Milestone Prizes are still eligible to win the grand or second-place prizes. To allow for Milestone Prizes, Google has increased the total size of the Google Lunar X-Prize Purse to $40 million.

The X-Prize Foundation is also considering additional Milestone Prizes for technical achievements after lift-off on the way to the moon, to be announced at a later date.

More details on the Milestone Prize are available here.

Written by Astro1 on February 19th, 2014 , Lunar Science

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