Google Lunar X Prize

The private race to the Moon, led by the Google Lunar X Prize. Key quote:

The Google Lunar X PRIZE offers a total of $30 million in prize money to the first privately funded teams to land robots on the Moon that explore the lunar surface by moving at least 500 meters and by sending back two packages of high definition video and photos we call Mooncasts. Unlike our first competition, the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, the Google Lunar X PRIZE isn’t a ‘winner take all’ proposition: instead, we have a $20 million Grand Prize, a Second Place Prize that will award $5 million to the second team to meet all of the requirements, a series of technical bonus missions that can allow teams to earn as much as an additional $4 million, and a $1 million award that will go to teams that make the greatest contribution to stimulating diversity in space exploration and, more generally, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The competition operates on a “payment on delivery” model: the prize money is only given to teams after they complete a successful mission, meaning that each team needs to raise all the capital needed to design, develop and conduct their missions on their own. We’re now three years into a fairly long effort: the prize is available until all of the prize purses are claimed or until the end of the year 2015. Last week, we accepted our 24th team into the competition.

New Zealand might lose $700 million in movie business due to union

Talk about stupid: New Zealand might lose $700 million in movie production business due to a boycott by an Australian-based actors union. Fun quote:

Fifteen hundred workers, including directors, technicians and crew who [oppose the actors union], met at . . . Miramar Studios at 5pm for an emergency meeting this evening. By 7pm, they were storming the Actors Equity meeting in the city.

The World’s First Everything-Proof Underground Luxury Community

The world’s first everything-proof underground luxury community. Fun quote:

The Barstow bunker was built to withstand a 50-megaton nuclear blast 10 miles away, 450mph winds, a magnitude-10 earthquake, 10 days of 1,250°F surface fires, and three weeks beneath any flood. Vicino says that a soon-to-be-installed air-filtration system will also neutralize any biological, chemical or nuclear attacks. The Barstow branch will stock enough food and clothing to sustain 135 people for at least a year, and in a lifestyle that Vicino describes as compact but luxurious, like being on a cruise ship.

The state of NASA’s commercial crew program

The state of NASA’s commercial crew program. Key quote:

The Obama administration requested $3.3 billion for commercial crew services over the next three years, but a so-called compromise bill forged in the Senate slashed the proposal in half. After months of heated contention, the House of Representatives finally agreed to the Senate authorization bill in late September, calling for $1.6 billion for the commercial program.

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