So There Could Be A Moon Race…On The Moon

The Google Lunar X Prize will award $20 million to the team that lands a robot safely on the moon, has it travel 500 meters on, above or below the moon’s surface, and broadcast HD quality video for us back home.

And all by the end of next year.

While the race has been on for a while, it might actually come down to the wire.  Two of the teams announced that they have booked passage to the moon on a SpaceX rocket (H/T WIRED).

The same rocket.

In an interesting bout of cooperation, the HAKUTO team will piggyback its twin rovers on the Astrobotic team’s lander.  Once on the moon’s surface, the three rovers will attempt to meet the criteria to earn the $20 million prize.  Depending on their camera placements, we could have some video coverage to rival an Earthbound road race.  (The press release suggests that should the HAKUTO team win the prize, some of it will go to Astrobotic to pay for its ride to the moon.)

The launch of this mission will take place sometime in the second half of 2016.  Once the rovers land, the race to 500 meters will not be a sprint.  Most NASA rovers top out at several meters per hour, so while the press release compares this race to NASCAR, a 24-hour endurance race strikes me as the more apt comparison.

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