Google Lunar XPRIZE shortlists five teams to race to the moon

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The Google Lunar XPRIZE foundation has announced the five shortlisted teams, who have secured contracts to launch their spacecrafts on the Moon.

The five teams who have entered the final phase of the competition are SpaceIL (Israel), Moon Express (US), Synergy Moon (International), Team Indus (India), and Hakuto (Japan).

The competition worth $30 Million requires the privately-owned space companies to successfully land their robots on the lunar surface, exploring at least 500 meters and send high-definition visuals to earth.

According to the updated guidelines, the teams have to initiate the launch before December 31, 2017.

The shortlisted teams will compete for the $20 million first prize. The prize for the second place is $5 million.

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“XPRIZE and Google have been awestruck by the educational outreach activities conducted by all of the competing teams and have decided to split the $1 million Diversity Prize across all 16 teams to recognize each of their unique approaches and initiatives over the years,” said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director, Google Lunar XPRIZE.

“Each of these teams has pushed the boundaries to demonstrate that you don’t have to be a government superpower to send a mission to the Moon while inspiring audiences to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” he added.

TeamIndus, a Bengaluru-based space startup is the only Indian company to compete for the Google Lunar XPRIZE.

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TeamIndus has signed a commercial launch contract with the Indian Space Research Organization. They will use a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.

HAKUTO has signed a rideshare agreement to have TeamIndus carry its four-wheeled rover to the Moon. SpaceIL has secured a position on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, while Synergy Moon will use a NEPTUNE 8 rocket, provided by Interorbital Systems. Moon Express has signed a multi-mission launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for three lunar missions by 2020.

The Google Lunar XPRIZE competition aims to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.