The X Prize Foundation has announced that it is re-launching the Lunar X Prize competition sans Google as the title sponsor.
The competition will be non-cash, which means that it won’t offer any prize money to the winning team, at least for now. The non-profit foundation is already in search of a new sponsor who can provide funding for the competition in exchange for having its name and logo on whichever lander gets to the Moon.
Google Lunar X Prize competition expired recently without a winner. The search engine giant started the competition in 2007 to encourage private parties to send a spacecraft to the Moon.
The competition challenged teams to develop and launch robotic lunar landers using mostly private funding. It was announced that the winner of the competition would receive $20 million, while the second place team would get $5 million in prize money. The winning team was required to land a robot on the moon, drive it 500 meters on the Lunar surface and send back high definition images back to Earth. The competition was originally supposed to end in 2012, but the deadline got postponed to 2018.
Unfortunately, none of the five finalist teams- Moon Express, SpaceIL, Synergy Moon, TeamIndus and Team Hakuto- were able to launch their lunar lander missions before the March 31, 2018, final deadline. So, Google ended the competition without a winner.
The X Prize Foundation is hopeful that continuing the competition will encourage the teams that are still in process of developing landers, including making launch arrangements and developing hardware, to continue with their research and development work. The participating teams are fine with the competition proceeding without the monetary prize.
The parameters of the new Lunar X Prize haven’t been announced yet. The foundation said it will be announcing the rule and regulations over the next few months.