Five team have made it to the tally of the Google Lunar XPRIZE finalists that will see a whopping $30 million in prizes given away including a $20 million grand prize for whoever gets to the moon first and completes the tasks.
The five teams are from Japan, India, the United States, and Israel and each of the teams have managed to secure rocket launch contracts for their landers. The launches will be happening from different sites including California, USA; Sriharikota, India; and Mahia, New Zealand. The teams have been working tirelessly ever since the project was announced and have developed technologies that they believe will get them through the whole mission and help them bank the grand prize.
In no specific order, the finalist teams are SpaceIL from Israel; Moon Express, US; Synergy Moon; Team Indus, India; and Hakuto, Japan.
Moon Express is the first private organization to have received an approval from the US government to operate on the Moon (a necessary step for international space law). The start-up is all set to bring the Moon back in a big way to Florida’s Space Coast. The team has developed a hopping Moon lander and has a vision to open up a bright future for the “eighth continent” and bring a real business plan to space. Moon Express has inked a deal with New Zealand’s up-and-coming Rocket Lab to launch from Mahia, New Zealand in late 2017.
Interorbital Systems that is part of the Synergy Moon team will serve as their launch provider, using a NEPTUNE 8 rocket to carry the team to the moon from an open-ocean location off the California coast during the second half of 2017. Synergy Moon loves big dreams, and the arts, and they’re ready to take their Moonshot!
SpaceIL was the first team to secure their launch contract. The team inked a launch deal with SpaceX and they are also planning for a late 2017 launch. SpaceIL has also come up with a “hopper” style lander. The team’s plan is to land the craft, fly 500m, and then touch down again to claim the prize, SpaceIL looks to inspire education across Israel (and the world) and get more people into science & technology.
India has been progressing tremendously on the space front over the last few years and that’s evident from the country’s private sector growth as well. Team Indus is planning to send its lander (along with science and instruments, like cameras from French national space agency CNES) to race that 500m for the big prize. It won’t be alone, as fellow team Hakuto will be riding along on the lander, launching on the tried-and-true PSLV rocket of India’s ISRO space agency on December 28th, 2017, arriving just in time for Republic Day 2018.
Japan’s popular space team Hakuto has scored some big partnerships, including au by KDDI, Suzuki, rock band Sakanaction, and a longterm Moon-resources-exploration plan with the Japanese space agency JAXA; and now they’re lined up to launch on Team Indus’ Moon lander! The Indian and Japanese teams will work together to win the Moon race, launching for the Moon on December 28th from Sriharikota, India.