Today, Google and the X Prize Foundation announced the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million purse, $20 million of which will be awarded to the first team to land a privately funded robotic rover on the moon. To win the grand prize, the rover must also be able to complete several missions, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images, and data back to Earth. Winnings will also be awarded for second place, as well as for extraordinary performances.
Says Google cofounder Sergey Brin in a press release, “It’s a great honor to participate in the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Google is really excited about this particular effort because we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and its ability to accomplish the most ambitious tasks.”
The Google Lunar X Prize represents one more X Prize carrot that aims to lure people to the moon. Next month, the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will take place in New Mexico. (See “Landing a Spacecraft with Engines Blazing.”)
In a playful aside today, Google launched Google Moon, a Google Maps-like rendition of NASA’s Apollo moon missions.