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October 22 2012

Favorites Emerge in the New Moon Race

Twenty-five teams are officially in the running for the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP), the $30 million prize for soft-landing a privately funded unmanned spacecraft on the moon. As the 2015 deadline approaches, however, it has become clear which teams are the early leaders in the chase to pull off a feat achieved only by two world superpowers, and not since the 1970s.

"This is really a predictable watershed year for the competition," says Bob Richards, co-founder and CEO of Moon Express, one of the top contenders in the competition. Richards spoke to PM by phone as he drove to his team's headquarters at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Bay Area. A rocket launch must be booked two years in advance, according to Richards, "so if you don't have a launch contract 24 months before the expiry of the prize, you're just not credible." .

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