After months of statements by the X Prize Foundation
that there will be no further revision of the deadlines for Google Lunar X PRIZE
, they announced its renewal on August 16. Their statement indicates a new end date for the competition - this is March 31, 2018. For its implementation, the teams, as before, need to land on the moon, drive 500 meters, and transmit video and telemetry to Earth.
Previously, the end of the competition was the end of 2017, so the teams had 3 additional months to complete all the tasks of the competition.
The application for revising the deadlines for the end of the competition does not give hints at its further revision. As Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, the head of this project, says, further changes may be more of a reorientation rather than a further extension.
“The latest date, set on December 31, 2017, was the day on which the teams were to launch their vehicles, and that day was to be the selection date of the current five finalists,” he said. “Now, the most important thing for teams that have different mission timelines (various paths to the Moon and time spent in orbit) is that the current deadline provides for the successful completion of the mission, this is the only date that matters.”
Earlier, representatives of the fund stated that the deadline at the end of 2017 (originally appointed as the end of the mission) - does not imply any revisions. “Now we are stuck with this schedule,” said Andrew Barton, then technical director of the mission, saying this last September, during a presentation at the international astronomical congress in Mexico. June 29 at the NewSpace 2017 conference in San Francisco, Amanda Stiles (Amanda Stiles), the current technical director of the competition, once again reminded that they have no plans to revise the deadlines for the competition.
"There is definitely a chance that the competition will end without determining the winner, and I think that people have a question, 'Will we extend the competition again,'" she said. "And the answer to it is that the Google Lunar X Prize will end with the current deadline as it is." Stiles added that although the X Prize Foundation is open to considering options, it becomes obvious that most of the teams will most likely not be able to fulfill all the requirements until the end of 2017, but the discussion of such developments will take place “much later” this year. “We really believe that there is no need for that at the moment,” she said in her June speech.
However, 4.5 months before the end of the year, it became increasingly clear that none of the teams were ready to launch. SpaceIL is an Israeli team (the first to sign a launch contract in 2015), shared the payload with other satellites on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle from SpaceX, and their launch was postponed to the beginning of 2018.
The Indian team Indus, which shared the payload of the PSLV
launch vehicle with another Japanese team, Hakuto, set the launch date to December 28th. However, in a July 30 statement, Rahul Narayan, leader of the Indus team, acknowledged that the implementation of these deadlines would be problematic.
“We supported ourselves by meeting insane deadlines before, and continued until we excluded all possible options to win the top prize,” he wrote. He added that the team "obviously needs to perform a lot of tests, certifications and rehearsals before we get to the launch site."
The Synergy Moon team was planning to launch its lander on the Neptune 8 rocket from Interorbital Systems
in Mojave, California. Their rocket had already flown
, but only performed low-altitude tests with a small version of Neptune.
The Moon express team has several contracts with Rocket Lab
to launch their MX-1E landing platform on the Electron rocket
. The company completed a partially successful
launch in May, and is planning another launch in October (as they reported on August 6).
If this launch is successful, Rocket Lab executive director Peter Beck (Peter Beck) said that they will move to commercial launches on time, to launch the launch platform Moon express. “We are in good shape and are confident that we can fulfill the needs of this customer,” he said in an interview on 6 August.
Bob Richards (Bob Richards), executive director of Moon Express, thanked for the extra time, regardless of that. need it to their team, or not. “The removal of restrictions on launch in 2017 is positive for development,” he said on August 16.
In addition to the rescheduling, the X Prize Foundation added two additional prizes (Lunar Arrival Milestone Prize) for implementing the following project phases: $ 1.75 million for reaching the Moon's orbit, or attempting to land; and $ 3 million for a soft landing on the moon until March 31, 2018. These amounts will be deducted from the first ($ 20 million) or second ($ 5 million) prize, if the team receives them in the future.
“Prizes for achieving these stages have been added to recognize the importance of a private company reaching the lunar orbit, and a soft landing on its surface,” González-Mourer told SpaceNews in a statement.
The new prize is support for the Moon Express project: “The prizes for reaching the orbit, and a soft landing on the moon are a great addition to Google Lunar X Prize, and are in good agreement with dangerous points during the competition,” said Bob Richards.