After 10 years, Google-backed private Moon race is over without a winner
‘No team will make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the March 31, 2018 deadline’tech Updated: Jan 24, 2018 14:03 IST
The grand prize of $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed as none of the participants in the decade long competition will be able to launch a rover to the Moon by March 31, 2018.
“After close consultation with our five finalist Google Lunar XPRIZE teams over the past several months, we have concluded that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the March 31st, 2018 deadline. This literal “moonshot” is hard, and while we did expect a winner by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed,” said the X Prize Foundation on their website.
Google-backed Lunar XPRIZE, often called Moon 2.0, was introduced in 2007 in a bid to encourage private players to launch space missions to the Moon. The competition was initially aimed to conclude in 2014, but was extended four times, with March 31, 2018 being the final deadline.
The only Indian participant in the competition, TeamIndus – a private aerospace startup - was believed to be close to meeting the deadline. But it suffered a major jolt late last month when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) cancelled the contract for insufficient funds, reported The Ken.
“They [TeamIndus] did not have the money, they were almost bankrupt,” an ISRO official was quoted as saying.
The X Prize Foundation, however, isn’t disappointed by the fact that none of the teams could meet the deadline.
“As a result of this competition, we have sparked the conversation and changed expectations with regard to who can land on the Moon. Many now believe it’s no longer the sole purview of a few government agencies, but now may be achieved by small teams of entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators from around the world,” it said.
“We are thankful to the teams for their decade of hard work, and acknowledge that a number of our teams are now, finally building flight ready hardware, contracting with launch providers and are close to being able to make their attempt to land on the Moon.”