After months of statements by the X Prize fund that there will be no further revision of the deadline for Google Lunar X PRIZE, on August 16 they announced an extension. Their application indicates a new deadline for the contest – this is March 31, 2018. To fulfill it, teams, as before, need to land on the Moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit video and telemetry to the Earth.
The deadline for the end of the competition was the end of 2017, so the teams had 3 additional months, For performing all tasks of the competition.
The application for revision of the deadline for the end of the competition does not give hints for its further revision. According to Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, the head of this project, further changes may have a reorientation character rather than a further extension.
"The latest date, set on December 31, 2017, was the day in Which the teams had to launch their vehicles, and this day was to be the date of selection from the current five finalists, "he said. "Now, the most important thing for teams that have different mission cycles (different paths to the Moon, and time spent in orbit) is that the current deadline provides for the successful completion of the mission, this is the only date that matters."
Earlier, the fund representatives said that the deadline at the end of 2017 (originally designated as the end of the mission) – does not involve revision. "Now we are stuck with this schedule," said Andrew Barton, then technical director of the mission, announcing this last September, during a presentation at the International Astronomical Congress in Mexico. On June 29, at the NewSpace 2017 conference in San Francisco, Amanda Stiles, the current technical director of the contest, again reminded that they have no plans to review the deadline for the end of the contest.
"There is definitely a chance, That the competition will end without determining the winner, and I think that people have a question, "Will we prolong the contest again," she said. "And the answer to it is that Google Lunar X Prize will end with the current deadline, as it is." Stiles added that although the X Prize fund is open to consideration of options, it becomes obvious that most likely none of the teams will be able to meet all the requirements before the end of 2017, but the discussion of this development will take place "much later" this year. "We really think that there is no need for this at the moment," she said in a June speech.
However, 4.5 months before the end of the year, it became increasingly obvious that none of the teams are ready for Launch. SpaceIL, the Israeli team (the first to sign a launch contract in 2015), shared the payload with other satellites on the Falcon 9 booster from SpaceX, and their launch was postponed until early 2018.
Indian team Indus, Sharing the payload of the launch vehicle PSLV with another, the Japanese team Hakuto, set the launch date on December 28. However, in a statement on July 30, Rahul Narayan, leader of the Indus team, acknowledged that the implementation of these terms would be problematic.
"We supported ourselves meeting with insane deadlines before, and continued until we were expelled All possible options to win the main prize "- he wrote. He added that the team "obviously needs to perform a lot of tests, certifications and rehearsals before we get to the launch pad."
The Synergy Moon team was planning to launch its landing gear on the Neptune 8 rocket from Interorbital Systems in Mojave, California. Their missile has already flown, but performed only low-altitude tests with a small version of Neptune.
The Moon express team has several contracts with Rocket Lab to launch their MX-1E landing platform on The "Electron" rocket. The company completed a partially successful launch in May, and plans another launch in October (as they reported on August 6.)
If this launch is successful, Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said that they Will proceed to commercial launches on time, to launch the Moon express landing platform. "We are in good shape, and we are confident that we can fulfill the needs of this customer," he said in an interview on August 6.
Bob Richards, CEO of Moon Express thanked for extra time, whatever. Need it to their team, or not. "Removing the launch restriction in 2017 is positive for development," he said on August 16.
In addition to reviewing the terms, the X Prize Foundation added two additional prizes (Lunar Arrival Milestone Prize) for the following stages of the projects: 1 , $ 75 million for achieving the Moon's orbit, or landing attempt; And $ 3 million for a soft landing on the moon until March 31, 2018. These sums will be deducted from the first ($ 20 million) or the second ($ 5 million) prize if the team subsequently receives them.
"The prizes for achieving these milestones are added to recognize the importance of the private company achieving the lunar orbit, And a soft landing on its surface, "said Gonzalez-Mouurer in a statement by SpaceNews.
The new prize is a support for the Moon Express project:" The prizes for achieving orbit, and soft landing on the moon are a perfect addition to Google Lunar X Prize, And are in good agreement with the dangerous points during the competition, "said Bob Ree USRBC.