Moon Shot: A $30 million competition to land a privately funded robot on the moon

Moon Shot: A $30 million competition to land a privately funded robot on the moon

The Google Lunar XPRIZE incentivizes space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable access to the Moon and beyond.

“It is only with a commercial mindset and commercial technologies that we will achieve a long-term vision of space commercialization and industrialization.” — Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman & CEO of XPRIZE

Created in 2007, the mission of the Google Lunar XPRIZE is to incentivize space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable access to the Moon and beyond.

The competition’s $30 million prize purse will be awarded to teams who are able to land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit back high definition video and images.

The first team that successfully completes this mission will be awarded the $20 million Grand Prize. The second team to successfully complete the mission will be awarded $5 million. To win either of these prizes, teams must prove that 90% of their mission costs were funded by private sources. Teams have until the end of 2016 to announce a verified launch contract to remain in the competition and complete their mission by the end of 2017.

Why the Moon? The Moon is not only our nearest neighbor in space, but it is also the gateway to the rest of the universe. Formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, the Moon provides exciting opportunities for discovery in the fields of science, technology, resource detection and utilization, and human habitation.

Science Projects: The Moon has already impacted the way we think about future exploration through previous discoveries, such as the existence of lava tubes potentially big enough to support a lunar base and the detection of ice at the lunar poles.

All of these discoveries have been made from lunar orbit. Now think of all the exciting research opportunities for scientists if they can have access to the lunar surface!

Abundant Resources: The Moon is a treasure chest of rare metals and other beneficial materials that can be used here on Earth. A successful Google Lunar XPRIZE would result in cost-effective and reliable access to the Moon, allowing for the development of new methods of discovering and using space resources, and in the long-term, helping to expand human civilization into space.

To Infinity and Beyond: The Moon is an essential stepping-stone to the rest of the universe, and the opportunity to learn from our closest neighbor can provide the necessary experience to further humanity’s presence in the solar system and beyond.

Private Exploration: The technologies developed by the Google Lunar XPRIZE teams will further reduce costs and barriers to entry so that private industry can work alongside government agencies and advance lunar exploration.

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Eight Years Later…

From UN scientists warn time is running out to tackle global warming | Environment | The Guardian: (Published in May 2007)

Governments are running out of time to address climate change and to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures, an influential UN panel warned yesterday.

Greater energy efficiency, renewable electricity sources and new technology to dump carbon dioxide underground can all help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the experts said. But there could be as little as eight years left to avoid a dangerous global average rise of 2C or more.

The warning came in a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published yesterday in Bangkok. It says most of the technology needed to stop climate change in its tracks already exists, but that governments must act quickly to force through changes across all sectors of society. Delays will make the problem more difficult, and more expensive.

Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the IPCC, said the report would underpin negotiations to develop a new international treaty to regulate emissions to replace the Kyoto protocol when it expires in 2012.

The report said little on the best way to encourage greater take-up of cleaner technologies. A delegate present at the negotiations said the passages on international policy options had been watered down by the US, which is opposed to Kyoto-style agreements that rely on binding targets.

Harlan Watson, head of the US delegation, said the report “highlights the importance of a portfolio of clean energy technologies, consistent with our approach”.

There were also rows about the role of nuclear power, with countries including Spain and Austria opposed to any form of words that endorsed an increase in electricity from nuclear technology.


Yesterday’s report follows two studies by the IPCC this year, which said unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as 6C by 2100, triggering a surge in ocean levels, destruction of vast numbers of species, economic devastation in tropical zones and mass human migrations.

The report said global emissions must peak by 2015 for the world to have any chance of limiting the expected temperature rise to 2C, which would still leave billions of people short of water by 2050.

Quoting energy expert Alex Epstein “8 years ago, they said we had only 8 years to avoid a climate catastrophe. Climate danger is now at an all-time low.”

Why Should You Love Fossil Fuels?

“Every year on Earth Day we learn how bad humanity’s economic development is for the health of the planet. But maybe this is the wrong message. Maybe we should instead reflect on how human progress, even use of fossil fuels, has made our environment cleaner and healthier. Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress explains.”

Climate Has Been Changing Since The Earth Was Formed

From Richard S. Lindzen: The Political Assault on Climate Skeptics – WSJ:

Research in recent years has encouraged those of us who question the popular alarm over allegedly man-made global warming. Actually, the move from “global warming” to “climate change” indicated the silliness of this issue. The climate has been changing since the Earth was formed. This normal course is now taken to be evidence of doom.

Individuals and organizations highly vested in disaster scenarios have relentlessly attacked scientists and others who do not share their beliefs. The attacks have taken a threatening turn.

As to the science itself, it’s worth noting that all predictions of warming since the onset of the last warming episode of 1978-98—which is the only period that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempts to attribute to carbon-dioxide emissions—have greatly exceeded what has been observed. These observations support a much reduced and essentially harmless climate response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In addition, there is experimental support for the increased importance of variations in solar radiation on climate and a renewed awareness of the importance of natural unforced climate variability that is largely absent in current climate models. There also is observational evidence from several independent studies that the so-called “water vapor feedback,” essential to amplifying the relatively weak impact of carbon dioxide alone on Earth temperatures, is canceled by cloud processes.

There are also claims that extreme weather—hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, you name it—may be due to global warming. The data show no increase in the number or intensity of such events. The IPCC itself acknowledges [1]the lack of any evident relation between extreme weather and climate, though allowing that with sufficient effort some relation might be uncovered.

World leaders proclaim that climate change is our greatest problem, demonizing carbon dioxide. Yet atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been vastly higher through most of Earth’s history. Climates both warmer and colder than the present have coexisted with these higher levels.

Currently elevated levels of carbon dioxide have contributed to increases in agricultural productivity. Indeed, climatologists before the recent global warming hysteria referred to warm periods as “climate optima.” Yet world leaders are embarking on costly policies that have no capacity to replace fossil fuels but enrich crony capitalists at public expense, increasing costs for all, and restricting access to energy to the world’s poorest populations that still lack access to electricity’s immense benefits.

Matt Ridley: Fossil Fuels Save The World

From Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really) – WSJ:

The more energy you have, the more intricate, powerful and complex you can make a system. Just as human bodies need energy to be ordered and functional, so do societies. In that sense, fossil fuels were a unique advance because they allowed human beings to create extraordinary patterns of order and complexity—machines and buildings—with which to improve their lives.

The result of this great boost in energy is what the economic historian and philosopher Deirdre McCloskey calls the Great Enrichment. In the case of the U.S., there has been a roughly 9,000% increase in the value of goods and services available to the average American since 1800, almost all of which are made with, made of, powered by or propelled by fossil fuels.

Still, more than a billion people on the planet have yet to get access to electricity and to experience the leap in living standards that abundant energy brings. This is not just an inconvenience for them: Indoor air pollution from wood fires kills four million people a year. The next time that somebody at a rally against fossil fuels lectures you about her concern for the fate of her grandchildren, show her a picture of an African child dying today from inhaling the dense muck of a smoky fire.

Notice, too, the ways in which fossil fuels have contributed to preserving the planet. As the American author and fossil-fuels advocate Alex Epstein points out in a bravely unfashionable book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” the use of coal halted and then reversed the deforestation of Europe and North America. The turn to oil halted the slaughter of the world’s whales and seals for their blubber. Fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food, thus feeding a growing population while sparing land for wild nature.

To throw away these immense economic, environmental and moral benefits, you would have to have a very good reason. The one most often invoked today is that we are wrecking the planet’s climate. But are we?