September 14, 2007

Ad Astra, per Aspera

I ran across this today:

GOLDEN, Colo. - Silicon Valley giant Google Inc. is teaming with the X Prize Foundation to launch a commercial race to the Moon with $30 million in incentives to collect along the way.

The X Prize Foundation, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., spearheaded the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which was created to jumpstart the development of private commercial transportation to suborbital space. That prize was won by Scaled Composites of California, which is now building a commercial version of its winning vehicle for entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Corp.

The Google Lunar X Prize sets the competition bar much higher than suborbital space.

"This next major X Prize has a mission that goes far beyond suborbital flight, and extends the economic sphere of humanity 10 times farther beyond geostationary Earth orbit ... all the way to the Moon," said Peter Diamandis, the X Prize Foundation's chairman and chief executive officer. "This competition will once again demonstrate that small teams of dedicated individuals can do what was once thought viable only by governments."

The goal of the new prize will be to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, such as: roaming the lunar surface to a distance of at least 1,640 feet (500 meters) and relaying video, images and data back to Earth.

It seems as though Buzz Aldrin has endorsed the program, appearing with the leader of the project on an Associated Press video. The trailer for "In the Shadow of the Moon" said that "it was a time when we did bold things" with regards to the original moon landings. Lets do something bold again.

(10 points to whoever can guess what the title means!)

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