Google Lunar X PRIZE

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Google Lunar X PRIZE
Prize Status: ACTIVE.
Introduced September 13th, 2007
Prize Amount $20,000,000 first place prize for successful completion of task before December 31, 2012; after date, prize amount drops to $15,000,000.
$5,000,0000 to second place.
$5,000,0000 in bonus prizes
Sponsor Google with the X PRIZE Foundation.



First announced September 13th, 2007 at the Wired NEXTFEST, the Google Lunar X PRIZE is the spiritual successor to the Ansari X PRIZE.

Peter Diamandis, the project founder, wrote on the official webpage, "It has been many decades since we explored the Moon from the lunar surface, and it could be another 6 - 8 years before any government returns. Even then, it will be at a large expense, and probably with little public involvement."

The goal of the prize is similar to that of the Ansari X PRIZE: to inspire a new generation of private investment in hopes of developing more cost-effective technologies and materials to overcome many limitations of space exploration that are currently taken for granted.

Initially, NASA was the planned sponsor and the prize purse was just US$20 million. As NASA is a federal agency of the United States government, and thus funded by US tax money, the prize would only have been available to teams from the United States. The original intention was to propose the idea to other national space agencies, including the European Space Agency and the Japanese space agency, in the hope that they would offer similar prize purses. However, budget setbacks stopped NASA from sponsoring the prize. Peter Diamandis then presented the idea to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, at an X PRIZE Foundation board meeting. They agreed to sponsor it, and also to increase the prize purse to US$30 million, allowing for a second place prize, as well as bonus prizes.


To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a team must successfully land a privately funded craft on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission goals of roaming about the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending a defined data package, called a “Mooncast”, back to Earth.


The total purse of the Google Lunar X PRIZE is $30 million (USD).

  • GRAND PRIZE: A $20 million Grand Prize will be awarded to the team that can soft land a craft on the Moon that roams for at least 500 meters and transmits a Mooncast back to Earth. The Grand Prize is $20M until December 31st 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15M until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation.
  • SECOND PRIZE: A $5 million Second Prize will be offered as well, providing an extra incentive for teams to continue to compete, and increasing the possibility that multiple teams will succeed. Second place will be available until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation.
  • BONUSES: An additional $5 million in bonus prizes can be won by successfully completing additional mission tasks such as roving longer distances (> 5,000 meters), imaging man made artifacts (e.g. Apollo hardware), discovering water ice, and/or surviving through a frigid lunar night (approximately 14.5 Earth days). The competing lunar spacecraft will be equipped with high-definition video and still cameras, and will send images and data to Earth, which the public will be able to view on the Google Lunar X PRIZE website.


The Mooncast consists of digital data that must be collected and transmitted to the Earth composed of the following:

  • High resolution 360º panoramic photographs taken on the surface of the Moon;
  • Self portraits of the rover taken on the surface of the Moon;
  • Near-real time videos showing the craft’s journey along the lunar surface;
  • High Definition (HD) video;
  • Transmission of a cached set of data, loaded on the craft before launch (e.g. first email from the Moon).

Teams will be required to send a Mooncast detailing their arrival on the lunar surface, and a second Mooncast that provides imagery and video of their journey roaming the lunar surface. All told, the Mooncasts will represent approximately a Gigabyte of stunning content returned to the Earth.





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