So what do you have to do? Well, it was never going to be easy to get that much money: simply design a robotic spaceship, then get it to go to the Moon and make it travel 0.3 miles (500 meters). Then make it send back some video and pictures. That’s it. The only problem is that to get the full prize, you have to get to the Moon by 2012 – by as soon as 2014 the prize money will be withdrawn.
Following the success of the Ansari X Prize three years ago, which was won by SpaceShipOne (the ship soon to be used by Virgin Galactic for tourist trips to space) Google joined up with the X Prize foundation a few months ago, and hopes that the new Lunar X Prize will help spur on privately funded space exploration.
The problem is that when only government agencies (such as NASA) send probes to space, progress is quite slow because there is only a limited amount of funding. If private companies and investors can be encouraged to start exploring beyond Planet Earth, then money will start flooding in and exploration will really start to pick up speed.
Once the private sector starts going to the Moon, it opens up the possibility of space hotels and lunar bases for vacations – things that just seem like science-fiction the way things are now, with state organizations doing everything in space.
I think the Google Lunar X Prize is an amazing idea, and I hope more competitions like it will open up in the future. Only this way can we really enter a true space age, and it means that we might just have a chance of being able to vacation on the Moon in our lifetimes. Now that is a cool thought!
Filed under: Exploration, Nature, Science, Space, Technology | Tagged: Ansari, astronomy, ESA, Google, lunar, lunar exploration, million, millionaire, moon, NASA, Virgin, Virgin Galactic, X Prize, X Prize Foundation |