Just days after the Google Lunar X Award ended without a winner, the X Prize Foundation announced today that it is relaunching its competition to send a private spacecraft to the Moon. The competition will be "non-monetary," meaning it will not have prize money for the team that completes its mission to the lunar surface for the first time, at least for now. The foundation is looking for a new sponsor that can replace Google and provide funds.
"We are extremely grateful to Google for funding the $ 30 million of the Google Lunar XPRIZE between September 2007 and March 31, 2018. While that competition is over, there are at least five teams with launch contracts that expect to land on the lunar surface in the next two years, "said Peter H. Diamandis, founder and CEO of X Prize, in a statement. "Because of this tremendous progress and potential in the short term, XPRIZE is now looking for our next Visionary Title Sponsor who wants to put their logo on these teams and on the lunar surface."
The Google Lunar X Award was created in 2007 to help private companies develop and launch their own lunar robotic modules. The prize required participants to land on the Moon, explore the surface and conduct live broadcasts, mainly using private money. The first team that did that before March 31, 2018 would win $ 20 million, while the second team would receive $ 5 million, and other smaller prizes would be awarded to teams that completed tasks such as orbiting the Moon before landing. . But none of the five finalists met the deadline, so the competition ended without a winner, and Google pocketed the prize money.
Even so, the companies that participated in the Lunar X Prize, including MoonExpress, do not renounce their plans to go to the Moon. Many of these companies approached the X Prize Foundation to request that the competition continue, with or without prize money, according to the X Prize. Now, the foundation is looking for a new corporate sponsor to provide the funds and establish the prizes in exchange for having its name and logo on the landing module that reaches the Moon. (It is not clear if Google refused to sponsor the lunar award and, if so, why, we sent an email to Google and X Prize and we will update the story if we receive a response.)
Rules for participating in the new Lunar X Prize aren & # 39; It is still clear, but the foundation said it will be announced "in the coming months."