New Moon Shot Imminent - The Lunacy Continues

Courtesy of  Vimeo
By Carl Weiss

Luna will be in sharp focus in 2017 as the US experiences a total solar eclipse and five teams try to land a rover on the Moon.  

Total Eclipse of the Sun

On August 21, citizens in the US from California to the Carolinas will be able to view a total solar eclipse for the first time since 1979.  The track of totality will start in Salem California, before crossing Boise, Idaho, Omaha, Nebraska, Kansas City, St Louis, Nashville, Athens, Georgia and ending in Charleston, South Carolina.  Starting at 10:20 PDT and ending at 2:47 EDT, the transit will cross all four time zones in the lower 48 and take more than 6 hours to complete.  Virtually slicing the country in half, this means that there will be many opportunities for anyone that has never seen an eclipse to do so.  If not, the consolation prize is that the Sun’s track will present more than ¾ of the lower 48 with 90% totality.

Check out this video on YouTube 

The Google Lunar X Prize

If that isn’t cause enough for full Moon madness, this year will also see five international teams attempt to land a rover on the Moon in an attempt to claim their piece of the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize.  Of course, it could cost nearly that much to try to build and fly a robotic rover to the Moon.  To do so requires the winning teams to land and rove on the lunar surface by or before December 31, 2017.

The rules are simple:
  1. Construct and land a spacecraft on the Moon’s surface
  2. Travel 500 meters from the landing site
  3. Transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth

What could be simpler, right?  The incentive, other than bragging rights, is that the first team to do so will claim the $20 million first prize, second place pays a cool $5 mil and there are lesser prizes for performing such tasks as $1 million for any team that can successfully land and video any of the 6 Apollo landing sites.  There are also a number of milestone prizes that teams were awarded preflight for demonstrating all the hardware and software that would be needed to support a soft landing.

Courtesy of  Flickr
 $20 million for a Moonshot?  That sounds hard to believe when you realize that the US and Russia spent billions less than 50 years ago, to accomplish the same task.  And only the US pulled it off.  So how is it possible for university techno geeks to do the same thing for what amounts to peanuts?

That’s a question some of the also-rans are asking themselves.  Since the contest’s start, more than a dozen teams from such places as Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, Malaysia, and two additional teams from the US have entered only to later drop out of the competition.  Of those that remain, only five teams Moon Express (US), Space IL (Israel), Hakuto (Japan), Team Indus (India) and Synergy International (International) are still in the running.  There is no certainty that any of them will be able to succeed.

The only things that the surviving teams have going for them are chutzpa along with the fact that they do not have to build the boosters that will take them into orbit.  They will be permitted to hitch a ride into space from either the Russians or private space contractors, such as SpaceX.  That being said, one team was eliminated from the competition when they could not arrange a flight before the end of the year.  Another team, Team Hakuto, came up with an interesting compromise when they arranged to have their lander piggyback on Team Indus’ lander.

Gentlemen, Start Your Rovers

Courtesy of  Wikipedia
For those of you accustomed to seeing hi-tech NASA rovers such as Curiosity, Spirit, and Opportunity trundling around the surface of Mars, you could be in for a bit of a letdown.  The Hakuto rover looks more like something you would buy your kids for Christmas than a working Moonbot.  The IHA Rover looks like something you could construct out of Legos, and the Italian entry looked more like a mobile mousetrap than a moon machine.

The landers too are strange things to behold.  Seemingly cobbled together from various off-the-shelf bits and pieces of hardware, most of them look like a cross between a water cooler and a cinema tripod.  Of course, what do you expect when you only have a limited budget? 

Some of the competitors, such as Israel’s Space IL view the excursion with nationalistic pride, as their video below demonstrates. 


Watch theVideo on YouTube

Here is some more background material you can research to learn more:


Whether for bragging rights or prize money, all 5 of the remaining competitors will have one brief shot at glory between now and the last day of 2017 to make their moonshot a reality or die trying.  That any of the teams involved in the endeavor have even managed to get this close to launch is an amazing feat of ingenuity.  All that is certain during the next 11 months is that win or lose; the lunacy will soon be over.

In this article, I have discussed how the present-day race to the moon is entering its final phase as the deadline to launch is quickly approaching. This article looks at the five remaining competitors who are looking to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE of 30 million dollars for successfully landing and deploying a lunar rover by the end of this year. Lots of detail links, pictures and video are provided to enhance the reader experience.

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If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410- 2091. We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family, and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the Notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 1/17/2017. I recommend checking out “To the Moon, Alice!”, "Star Trek Tech and Beyond in the 21st Century" and  "The Newest Tech and Tech Trends for the New Year."  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “latest tech or Star Trek” in the search box top of this blog. Also, don't forget to plus us on Google+.  

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Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.

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