Beresheet to win $1 million if it succeeds in lunar landing


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Capitalism in space: The X-Prize Foundation today announced that it will award the Israeli company SpaceIL a million dollar award should its privately-funded spacecraft Beresheet successfully soft land on the Moon on April 11.

The foundation also stated that it is considering offering other similar awards for similar private achievements. In that context, this article in Science today gives a nice summary of the private companies now working to buiild and launch private planetary probes.

Two companies, Moon Express and TeamIndus, appear ready to fly their lunar landers in 2020. Four others have announced plans, but their schedules and status are less firm. In all cases, these companies are establishing themselves as commercial alternatives to the expensive, government-built planetary probes of the past. Rather than build their own spacecraft, scientists in the future will hire these companies, and attach their instruments to their spacecrafts. And get things build faster and for less money.

Moreover, NASA itself has been encouraging this transition.

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One comment

  • Col Beausabre

    To elaborate on Bob’s ending comments, the logical thing to do would be to design a “bus” taking care of power, cooling, communications, data storage, etc with attachment points with standardized connections (hello, ISO) allowing scientific modules to be bolted on. Built on an assembly line basis, this would be much less expensive than designing and building bespoke vehicles (although that may be necessary in some cases) and allow multiple teams’ instruments to share the cost, helping make space accessible to small organizations.

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