Cash purse for robot Moon lander X Prize sought

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A $20 million prize to place a robot lander on the Moon by the beginning of the next decade has been proposed to NASA by the X Prize Foundation.

The Foundation, which was behind the $10 million Ansari X Prize that led to SpaceShipOne’s first private flight into space, has recently completed a report for NASA on what cash purse would encourage a lunar lander competition.

Teams would launch spacecraft to the Moon with landers that would reach past Apollo mission sites and beam back pictures of the landers’ descent stages, US flags and astronauts' footprints there.

“We just did a study for a lunar X Prize and now the [sources of] money needs to be identified for a purse for that. Once we have the money we think it could be won in three to five years after that,” says X Prize Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis, speaking on 18 October at the 2nd International Symposium for Personal Spaceflight, held in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

He added that finding the sources of money for a $20 million purse would be difficult and could take years.

The X Prize Foundation launched its second prize, the Archon X Prize, on 4 October for breakthroughs in genetics and it is planning a third, which concerns cars.

The Foundation’s X Prize Cup event, being held this week on the 20 and 21 October at New Mexico’s Las Cruces airport, will host NASA’s Centennial Challenges for a lunar lander and a space elevator.

Blog: Read about Rob Coppinger's two days at the 2nd International Symposium for Personal Spaceflight at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Meseum, Las Cruces, New Mexico.