Eighteen teams are currently racing to be the first private firm to land on the moon. The winner will net a $20 million award from the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which has set the end of 2015 as a deadline for the teams, but today the XPRIZE plans to announce an additional $6 million in prizes that is up for grabs.
The foundation selected five teams that wills strive to meet three different milestones. Any team that reaches a milestone will receive the reward, even if it isn’t the first to do so.
“As there are increasing fiscal constraints threatening the ability of governments to fund exploration, the need to recognize the bold technical achievements of these privately-funded teams is greater than ever,” judging panel chair David Swanson said in a release.
Before September of this year, each of the teams will go through tests and simulations that will measure their ability to land on the moon, their capability to move the required 500 meters after landing and their imaging system. A panel of judges will then decide which teams met the requirements. The money is meant to help cash-strapped teams, but also to reward more than just the final winner for the millions they are pouring into making privatized spaceflight a reality.
Two of the five teams qualified in all three categories, perhaps making them the frontrunners for the final leg of the competition next year. Astrobotic, which is based out of Pittsburgh, and Moon Express, which is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., will both have a shot at $1.75 million.
The XPRIZE may award additional prizes for what teams accomplish while their lander is on the way to the moon.
Here is the full list of teams that qualified in each category:
Landing system ($1 million): Astrobotic, Moon Express, Team Indus
Mobility subsystem ($500,000): Astrobotic, Moon Express, Hakuto, Part-Time-Scientists
Imaging subsystem ($250,000): Astrobotic, Moon Express, Part-Time-Scientists, Team Indus