Google ignites new space race

Internet giant Google is funding a prize for the first team to send a lander to the Moon

Google funds this year's X prizeWith $40 million on offer, the contest has already attracted thirty teams of scientists across the world. To win, they must build a lander, fly it to the Moon and make it travel 500 meters across the lunar surface. Then it must transmit two Mooncasts back to Earth. the deadline for accomplishing the mission is 31st December 2015. Known as the Google X Prize, this is the most substantial sum ever offered in the X-prize series.

Twenty-two teams of scientists across the world are working on designs and prototypes for the lunar lander. Although they are in competition, the teams are sharing details and images of their progress on Youtube and social media. Unlike the original Moon landing by US astronauts in 1969, this is not a Government mission and there is no need for official secrecy. On the contrary, the sponsor Google appears keen to encourage sharing of information, especially in its own Circles and Google + system. Presenting his plans at London’s Royal Observatory Greenwich, Karsten Becker was keen to point out that the teams are not afraid to tell the world when landers crash or plans go wrong. His team from the Hamburg University of Technology in Germany has adopted the slogan “Hell Yeah, it’s rocket science”

To inspire public support, Britain’s National Space Centre has created a 3D short film, ‘Back to the Moon for Good’, narrated by Tim Allen. The film tells the story of the original space race between the Soviet Union and the USA which – despite the fact that the USSR out the First Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space – was won by the Americans with their Moon landing on 21st July 1969.