WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
The race to be the first private company to land on the Moon is on, and now just five teams are left in the running.
Google’s Lunar XPRIZE team have announced that five of the original sixteen private space companies have managed to book their rides to the Moon in 2017 and get through to the final round of the XPRIZE in their race to land a robot rover on the Moon, travel 500 meters streaming Hi-Def video, on their way to pick up prize money of over $30 Million.
The five finalists are SpaceIL, a non profit team based out of Israel; Moon Express, a want to be Moon mining company from the US; Synergy Moon, an international team who hope to promote cost effective space exploration; Team Indus from India and last but not least Japanese based Hakuto, operated by iSpace Inc.
In order to get through to the final stage all of the finalists had to show evidence that they’d booked their launch contracts by the end of last year. SpaceIL and Team Indus secured spots on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Indian Space Research Organization’s lower cost Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), respectively. Meanwhile Hakuto will share a ride with Team Indus, and Moon Express and Synergy Moon have secured rides with firms that have not yet launched anything into orbit – Rocket Lab USA and Interorbital Systems.
According to the XPRIZE’s revised guidelines – which have been revised countless times since the competition launched several years ago, a team can stay in the competition only if it initiates its launch by 31 December, 2017. Notably absent from the list of finalists though is Part Time Scientists, an international team based in Germany that last year announced it had secured a launch contract and snagged a partnership with Audi, but apparently their submission was too late.
Also absent is longtime front runner US based Astrobotic, which withdrew from the competition and the much lofted Canadian father and son team Plan B who timed out after they failed to secure a launch contract in time.