Google Sets Sights on the MoonBy Lawrence Walsh | Posted 2008-02-22 Email Print
One giant step for Google? The search company is giving away money for a robotic moon landing.
Google is going to the moon, seriously.
latest of wacky, unconventional initiatives, the search giant unveiled the
Google Lunar X Prize, which will award $30 million to the first privately funded
team to put a robotic probe on the moon’s surface that beams back pictures and
other data before
Why the moon? Google says on its Web site: “Because space exploration has historically produced much of the scientific community's most ambitious research. And because the moon can be a resource for the Earth, being composed of some of the most important elements.”
mission are back in vogue around the world. No human has step foot on the lunar
surface since 1972 when the last Apollo mission concluded. NASA has plans to
return man to the moon by 2020.
A number of privately funded space programs are already in the works, as well, since Burt Rutin won the elusive XPrize in 2004 by putting a manned craft in suborbit. Since then, Richard Branson has established Virgin Galactic which aims to ferry private citizens into orbit. And Galactic Suites claims its on target to open the first orbital hotel by 2012, in which guests will pay upwards of $4 million for three-day stays.
Google says Lunar XPrize is about stimulating education, as well as scientific and technological innovation.
“The Google Lunar XPrize's mission is twofold: Apart from stimulating private research and development of a lunar robotic lander, the Lunar XPrize also hopes to stimulate interest in space and space exploration through motivating private groups around the world to develop technology that can used by all of humanity,” the company wrote on its Web site.
several teams are in the hunt for the prize, the contest is fraught with
challenges. The Apollo program cost the
Even if a
private team lands on the lunar surface, they won’t be the first robotic probe
The Lunokhod was so far ahead of its time that mobile robotic probes weren’t attempted again until 1997 when NASA successfully landed the Sojourner and Pathfinder rovers on Mars.