I mentioned the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize a few months ago, but now there’s a bit of an update: the first team has stepped forward and announced that they’ll be trying to claim it. The team is called Odyssey Moon, and it stars International Space University founder Bob Richards and Inmarsat CFO Ramin Khadem. If all goes well, they’ll land a rover on the Moon within the next 7 years.
Just a quick recap. The Google Lunar X-Prize follows on the success of the original Ansari X-Prize. The first private group that can land a rover on the surface of the Moon, and complete a series of challenges before December 31st, 2014 will win $30 million.
Team organizers have said that hundreds of teams have expressed an interest, but nobody has actually filled out the necessary paperwork… until today.
Team Odyssey Moon announced their intention to compete for the Google Lunar X-Prize at the Space Investment Summit in San Jose, California. The team will be based on the Isle of Man, off the coast of England. Not a place known for its bustling space commerce, but the team founders say the location has the right business regulations and tax laws for such an unusual business venture.
And that’s the point, they expect this to be a business venture. Richards and Khadem believe they have a viable business plan for operating a Moon rover business. They’ll finance operations by the delivery of science, exploration and commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon. According to the Odyssey Moon folks, the $30 million prize is just a nice benefit.
For my fellow Canadians, you’ll be please to hear that MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates has been selected as the mission’s prime contractor. MDA has developed the robotic arms used on the space shuttle and International Space Station, and hardware for other space missions.
In addition to the two founders, the Planetary Society announced today that they’re going to pitch in with Odyssey Moon, helping out with education, public involvement, and serving as a science liaison for the project.
Although Odyssey Moon is just the first team to announce their intentions for the $30 million prize, they won’t be the last. Prize founder Peter Diamandis expects that several teams will make launch attempts within a handful of years – it seems unlikely that a rover won’t succeed before the time limit ends.
Original Source: Odyssey Moon