Google Sponsors Mooncraft Competition

Dennis Faas's picture

After being crowned the king of search, Google has set its sights a bit higher -- literally. In what it calls the 'global private race to the moon,' Google will be sponsoring the Google Lunar X PRIZE, an award given to a team who can land a craft on the moon. (Source:

The X PRIZE Foundation's first project, the Ansari X PRIZE, had competitors racing to build a spacecraft able to reach low earth orbit. This time, participants will be reaching for the moon. Specifically, the winner must be the first to soft land a spacecraft on the moon which will roam for a minimum of 500 meters and transmit a Mooncast back to earth. The winner will receive $20 million, while second place takes home $5 million. Participants have until December 31, 2012 to claim the $20 million prize; after that time, the winnings will drop to $15 million with a December 31, 2014 deadline. (Source:

The Lunar X PRIZE came about from a meeting between in March between Google co-founder Larry Page and X PRIZE Foundation founder Dr. Peter Diamandis. Page admits that people thought that Google Moon, a site which focuses on photos and information from the Apollo moon missions, was just for fun. "Now you know we are serious about this," he said.

"Science and engineering, if you ask an economist, are the only ways that we have to increase our economics and productivity. We believe that these kinds of contests, in setting an ambitious goal like going to the moon, are really a good way to improve the state of humanity," Page stated. (Source:

Improving the state of humanity sure is a worthy outcome -- and so is the $20 million that the winners will receive. If you're a science buff itching to compete, you have a little over five years to build your craft. Ready, set, go!

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