June 5, 2014
To the Moon and Beyond
image by ispace inc
Eighteen teams remain active, out of 33 starters, in the quest to win the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize. The challenge is to build the first private spacecraft to land on the Moon, travel 500 m and make two transmissions to Earth, all before the end of 2015. The teams have various depths of expertise and support, including the Israeli SpaceIL team which received a $16 million dollar donation from Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino tycoon who usually uses his billions to influence presidential candidates. Perhaps the most clever team promotion comes from the Japanese HAKUTO team that produced the video in today's LPOD. The name Hakuto relates to a Japanese fairy tale of a rabbit on the Moon. That country's government lunar program, Kaguya, is also named after a traditional folktale. Perhaps the US use of descriptor names (Ranger, Orbiter and Surveyor) and a Greek mythology name for our premier lunar exploration program (Apollo) reflects a lack of traditional national fairy tales - maybe that is what politics is.
Yesterday's LPOD: Eyepiece Views
Tomorrow's LPOD: Lurking