The deadline for the Google Lunar X Prize has been pushed back from the end of 2017 to the 31st of March, 2018. This is the third time the deadline has been extended, since the prize was announced in 2007. The finalists in the competition now have more time to finish their spacecrafts and send them to the surface of the Moon.
Google Lunar X Prize offers $20 million to the first privately funded team that soft-lands a spacecraft on the moon. If this does not sound hard enough, the teams’ rovers have to explore at least 500 meters across the lunar surface and send back high definition videos and images. The second team to accomplish the feats above gets $5 million.
Initially, the teams had to launch their rovers to the moon before the 31st of December, 2017 to be eligible to win. However, with the extension of the deadline, they must complete their full mission by the 31st of March, 2018, the launch date not being a factor anymore.
Moreover, additional prizes have been added. The first team to orbit the moon or try landing wins the Lunar Arrival Milestone, consisting of $1.75 million. Any rover that successfully lands on the moon surface will be awarded the $3 million Soft Landing Milestone prize.
Out of dozens of competitors, only five teams remain in the competition: Moon Express, a US company determined to mine the lunar surface in the future; TeamIndus from India; Synergy Moon, an international group of scientists and engineers; SpaceIL from Israel; and HAKUTO from Japan.
It is difficult to predict who the winner will be, since we are talking about actual rocket science. Hopefully, the extended deadline will provide the teams enough time to finish their spacecrafts and launch them to the moon.