Build a robot, send it to the moon, win $20 million. - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Build a robot, send it to the moon, win $20 million.

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It was the height of the Cold War and the United States and the Soviet Union were battling it out to be the first nation to put a man on the lunar surface. On July 20, 1969, eight years after President Kennedy implored the U.S. congress for funding for space exploration, NASA's Apollo 11 spaceflight touched down on the moon. American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans in history to walk on the Earth's nearest neighbor.

Since then a further 10 men have left their footprints on the moon's dusty surface, with the last being Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan in 1972. But after this golden age, moon exploration was seen as not cost effective for international space agencies.

Now Google is shooting for the stars and calling for private organizations to participate in an international competition for innovators to go back to the moon.

The Google Lunar X Prize hopes to spur exploration on the moon and will see a hefty $20 million jackpot handed to the first team that puts a robot on the lunar surface.

But that's not all -- there are a few scientific objectives a team must complete in order to obtain the ultimate honors from Google. Once on the moon, the robot must travel 500 meters and transmit HD video back to Earth. And they've got to do it all by December 31, 2015.

"Competition leads to innovation, and the Google Lunar X Prize has brought together some of the brightest and most talented minds to accelerate the private NewSpace sector," says Chanda Gonzales, senior director of the Google Lunar X Prize.

"We are encouraged to see this prize pushing the industry to take risks and invest in cutting-edge technologies to support lunar exploration, which will result in an entirely new economy around low-cost access to the moon and beyond."

It is now seven years after the prize was launched and 18 private teams remain in the running. Working tirelessly to secure funding (only 10% of financing can come from government sources) as well as designing and building their individual modules, these international innovators are finally moving into the testing phase.
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