The Lunar X Prize is continuing on, but without Google’s sponsorship and without a cash prize. The competition to land a rover on the moon, which ended in January with no winner, is re-launching and searching for a new sponsor.
Google started the Lunar X Prize in 2007, offering $20 million to the first privately funded company to put a functioning rover on the moon by 2012. In the following years, the deadline was repeatedly pushed back and the prize purse raised to $30 million, plus smaller “milestone” incentives. X Prize awarded a total of more than $6 million to various teams for making smaller steps on the way to launching to the moon.
But in January, it became clear that none of the five remaining competitors were far enough along to get their rovers to the moon by the March 2018 deadline. The competition was declared over, and the prize went unclaimed.
Now, the competition has been brought back, but with no prize to claim as of yet. Several of the competitors had previously stated that they would continue working toward lunar launches regardless of the prize, so it may not be much of a change of plans.
“While we plan to win this moon race and are committed to carrying the Lunar X Prize logo, the real opportunity is in opening the lunar frontier and the multibillion dollar industry that follows,” said Bob Richards, CEO of X Prize competitor Moon Express, in a statement.
X Prize is looking for a new corporate sponsor to take over from Google, with hopes that the competition will be able to come back in full force, prize and all.