The competition heats up: The five finalists for the Google Lunar X-Prize have now been set.
Five teams remain in the running: Israel’s SpaceIL, Florida-based Moon Express, an international team known as Synergy Moon, India’s Team Indus and Japan’s Hakuto.
SpaceIL plans to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which recently returned to flight following a launch pad accident. Team Indus and Hakuto will share a ride on an Indian PSLV launcher. Moon Express is banking on a launch from startup Rocket Lab, which is developing a small rocket called Electron. Whether it wins the XPrize or not, Moon Express is building a business to provide lunar transportation and services, such as research and mineral extraction, Chief Executive Bob Richards said in an interview. Synergy Moon is counting on one of its partners, Mojave, Calif.-based Interorbital Systems, for its launch aboard a new rocket known as Neptune.
To win, one of these teams must fly its mission before the end of 2017.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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