A Google-sponsored competition to reach for the moon has fallen short.
More than 10 years after the XPRIZE Foundation announced a contest for proposals to send a robot to the moon, none of the participating teams will meet their deadline. The grand prize for the winner, $20 million provided by Google in a partnership with XPRIZE, will go unclaimed.
“After close consultation with our five finalist Google Lunar XPRIZE teams over the past several months, we have concluded that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the moon by the March 31, 2018, deadline,” wrote Peter Diamandis and Marcus Shingles, the heads of the XPRIZE Foundation that led the competition, in a post on Tuesday.
The competition called for privately funded teams to develop, launch, and land a spacecraft on the moon, drive it across the lunar surface for at least 1,640 feet (500 meters), and transmit high-resolution photos and video footage back to Earth. Google put up $30 million in prize money. The first team to complete the mission would receive $20 million and the second would get $5 million. The remaining $5 million was set aside for other accomplishments in the contest.
More than 30 teams entered the contest. The initial deadline was set as 2012.* In 2017, the foundation selected five finalists: Moon Express of the United States, SpaceIL of Israel, HAKUTO of Japan, TeamIndus of India, and Synergy Moon, an international team. By then, even though XPRIZE had pushed the deadline several times, the teams were still nowhere near ready to launch a spacecraft.
The contest doled out $6.25 million of the prize money to multiple participants between 2015 and 2017 for reaching various milestones in developing software and hardware for their missions. Google will now keep the rest of the money it contributed.