Lunar X-Prize

$25 Million in Prizes Is Offered for Trip to Moon

moon landingsBig bucks for a private unmanned moon probe with rover:

The prize for reaching the moon and completing the basic tasks of roving and sending video and data will bring the winner $20 million, according to the contest rules. An additional $5 million would be awarded for other tasks that include roving more than 5,500 yards or sending back images of artifacts like lunar landers from the Apollo program.

This will NEVER work. NEVER EVER EVER. There is no way that anyone besides the BIG GOVERNMENT AGENCIES could do this. There’s no way the people working working for private entrepreneurs could ever possibly pull this off. It’s going to take NASA years to get back to the moon. No one else HAS A CHANCE!

Note to hopeful competitors: I am TAUNTING you! I am calling your skills into question. I am doubting your manhood. I don’t think you can do it. I am DARING you to prove me wrong!

Murdoc’s thinking of putting together a team for this, it’s so cool.

Via Instapundit. Click the pic for past lunar landing sites.

UPDATE: Brian Dunbar:

This does not solve the ‘it’s freaking expensive to get stuff to orbit’ problem. Unless the winning team solves that problem while they’re low-costing a solution to get a bot to the moon. Or it inspires someone else to work on the problem.

Until/unless the cost to orbit problem gets solved, everything is going to remain astoundingly expensive. Space elevators are one possible solution, but the fact remains that a huge percentage of the cost of any space mission remains the first couple hundred miles.


  1. Murdoc’s thinking of putting together a team for this, it’s so cool. I’m in if the technology can be adapted to repel hordes of zombies.

  2. Dunbar’s comments are essentially right. We need the government to develop new methods of getting to low Earth orbit. That’s what we’ve always needed from them. Instead we’ve got 30 years of the failed shuttle. New technologies are difficult, if not impossible to get funded. As I’ve said before, that’s why all the private vehicles out there being developed right now are either conventional rockets or impossible (space elevator) because either way the risk is low. Try to get an investor for a M 2 or M 3 airbreathing first stage. Try to get one for a rail gun or beamed energy station. Ain’t gunna happen. We need our friggen government to work, dammit. It did once, why should it work again?

  3. I know a guy who can get the job done, no sweat. His name is Ralph Kramden. But he insists on calling the vehicle: Alice>

  4. This will NEVER work. NEVER EVER EVER. There is no way that anyone besides the BIG GOVERNMENT AGENCIES could do this.’ Bee Es. Anything the government can do, the private sector can do better. Sure, landing on the moon one time cost $9 billion in current dollars, but we are talking about our entrepreneurial core now. Don’t sell us short.

  5. Dunbar’s comments are essentially right. We need the government to develop new methods of getting to low Earth orbit I did not say we needed the government to do it. The government – on it’s own – won’t. The government gets stuff to orbit just fine thank-you-very-much with the way things are. They have no incentive to make things cheaper. Now – I’m not saying it can be done without them. Clearly the State has a role – but it’s role is supporting efforts like this with appropriate political measures, R+D and so forth.

  6. Hmmmm 25 million for your basic get to the moon and snap some pictures? Its doable. My first thoughts – a small lander, a tumble-weed type to keep things simple. Basically a self propelled ball. No more then 20 or 30 pounds. I would do it in two or three shots to keep it simple and cheap. 1st launcher for the lander section. 2nd launch for the earth to moon booster & maybe a 3rd launch for the fuel. The two or three would link up in orbit and transit from there. As long as no section had a mass more then say a hundred pounds, a NSA OMS high altitude balloon would make a good launch platform. The rocket itself could be of the shelf. A high altitude sounds rocket could be the ticket. – Propulsion would be a small ion drive, like the ones used in satellite maneuver drives except with a larger fuel supply. Solar is the obvious electrical source, but a ground based microwave energy transfer system would cut costs and could reduce mass.(efficiency would be a major bottleneck). If we used a low energy transfer with ballistic capture transit method, mass and costs would drop tremendously. Actual moon landing could be done using a variant of the Mar’s rover airbag system. Deorbiting could done via use a tether system between the lander and the propulsion section (they would separate once moon orbit is achieved – a teather of 3-4 km should do it nicely ). There is still going to be excess velocity to bleed off. Thermal management & radiation hardening would also be an issue.

  7. You’ll be ok with your rover as long as there are no cats on the Moon. Mine go crazy whenever we put batteries in one of these. Terrestrial testing may actually be impossible.

  8. I have never been a cat person – though turning on a vibrator and freaking out the cat can provide entertainment. As to the beach ball rover, there has been some work done on the concept. –

  9. Hey, anyone wanna hire a CAD operator, I’m in! Of course I’d have to telecommute from here and would still have to keep my day job, but hey, I’ve got 8 years doing CAD work for an electrical engineering firm so its gotta count for something. My money would be on Routan (sp?). They got Space Ship One working, why not this? Heck, that new blended wing concept from Boeing would be a good first stage high altitude platform…hmmmm

  10. Yeah, they got SpaceShipOne working, but have been very slow on SS2. The aerodynamics of SS1 are a f’ed up, so maybe they’re trying to fix that now that they’ve got some pitostatic data to work with. Or maybe they’re just now realizing how dicked up the CFD model really is. Rutan has never understood much about compressibility.