Google Lunar X-PRIZE competition ending without winners


Prior to its withdrawal from the XPRIZE at the end of 2016, Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic had been a frontrunner, earning $1.75 million in Google money for meeting certain milestones: $1 million for a successful navigation-systems test using Masten Space Systems' Xombie-model rocket; $500,000 for demonstrating the mobility of its prototype rover; and $250,000 for demonstrating it could capture, compress, and transmit video, still pictures, and other data in a simulated lunar environment. The official confirmation came through an update on XPrize's official website.

Moon Express declined CNBC's request for comment, instead pointing to a recent Space News op-ed by CEO Bob Richards titled "applauding the Google Lunar Xprize".

Several dozen teams threw their hats into the ring over the course of the decade-long GLXP competition, but that pool was finally whittled down to five finalists: Florida-based Moon Express, Japan's Team Hakuto, SpaceIL from Israel, India's Team Indus and global outfit Synergy Moon. Despite the previous deadline extension and the fact that these teams may be ready to launch next year, Google has announced that there will be no extension to the March 31st deadline.

"This literal "moonshot" is hard, and while we did expect a victor by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize will go unclaimed", said XPrize founder Peter Diamandis and XPrize CEO Marcus Shingles in a statement.

"This literal "moonshot" is hard, and while we did expect a victor by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed", they remarked. As such, the grand prize will go unclaimed.

After over a decade of innovation, excitement and deadline extensions, Google's Lunar XPrize is set to end anticlimactically with no victor. An additional $6 million in prize money was awarded to teams over the course of the competition, in recognition of milestone achievements, the X Prize Foundation said. The deadline, extended many times before, would not be extended.

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The X Prize Foundation said it is exploring ways to proceed from here. For example, the first commercial space companies in India, Malaysia, Israel and Hungary were established and more than $300 million was raised by the teams, including the largest space-related series A investment of $90 million. The steps already made by teams in their bids are impressive enough, it says.

"We continue to focus on our core business plans of collapsing the cost of access to the moon, our partnership with NASA, and our long-term vision of unlocking lunar resources for the benefit of life on Earth and our future in space".

"We respect the decision by the organisers to not extend the competition deadline any further and thank them for having created an unique platform that unleashed innovation, created newer technologies and drew in teams from various backgrounds to solve problems of enabling human exploration beyond the Earth orbit", TeamIndus said in a separate statement. Privately-funded teams across the world were called on to compete to be the first to land an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon.

The XPrize Foundation has held contests to help finance ambitious entrepreneurial projects before.

"It was a mutually agreed closure not a termination", Narayanan, said of the contract with Antrix, ISRO's commercial arm.?He added that the company did not want to rush to meet the March deadline and make mistakes along the way.