May 19, 2009

Space News Article

The above image is an extract. The full page can be downloaded here.


May 15, 2009

Preliminary Landing Site Considerations

The International Atlas for Lunar Exploration by Phil Stooke (also available on our website’s carousel widget) shows the landing sites proposed by the Euromoon 2000 team. These are located at peaks of eternal light near the Moon’s south pole. In the Atlas Stooke also suggests other nearby landing sites with rover routes into the permanently shadowed zones.

We are considering targeting our Google Lunar X PRIZE mission for landing at or near one of those sites since they offer great potential for winning the Water Bonus Prize. Finding a useful deposit of water ice on the Moon would revolutionize space exploration by making a permanently manned lunar base more likely, and we would like to offer our sponsors the chance to be part of such a discovery. Talking about our sponsors, we would also like to offer them exciting video and photography. The Moon’s south pole region is a prime location thanks to its rugged landscape and dramatic shadowing.

There are also interesting scientific benefits of landing in this region including the opportunity of inspecting samples of the South Pole-Aitken impact basin in the ejecta of more recent smaller craters. We intend to reserve a certain amount of mass on our Google Lunar X PRIZE for such customer payloads.

However, landing at a peak of eternal light is quite difficult. Firstly, the polar areas of the moon are typical highland regions which have rough terrain, putting more demands on hazard avoidance and the stability and of the landing craft at touchdown. A mare region would be less demanding in that respect.

An even greater difficulty is the need for a precision landing capability. Missing the landing target at a peak of eternal light by even a few hundred meters could leave the craft in a shadowed area where solar panels cannot generate power, or in a 'communications shadow' where line of sight radio transmissions cannot reach the Earth, leaving relay by a lunar orbiting satellite as the only option for communications.

No robotically guided craft has ever soft-landed on the Moon with the required level of precision to ensure permanent sun illumination at a peak of eternal light, and there are complicated navigation challenges that still need to be solved before that technology becomes available. Remember, there is no satellite navigation system at the Moon with which the lander can determine its position, nor are there any road signs or beacons pointing out the runway!

Considering that landing anywhere on the Moon is already a difficult challenge, we are now focusing our efforts on defining a baseline mission with a landing in a mare region. Mare regions are much flatter than highland ones and this simplifies the landing system design. However, much of the mission architecture and the subsystem designs for a mare landing could also be used for a mission targeting more difficult locations so we will keep open the option to upgrade our Google Lunar X PRIZE mission in the future.

Eventually we will make our landing site selection based upon our assessment of the technical risks, considering also the needs of our potential sponsors and the level of interest in the scientific community for the respective options.

May 8, 2009

What is White Label Space

We have been preparing a Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) team since March of 2008. At first we didn't have a team name or even a vision for how we would approach the GLXP. At that time, we were united only by the common belief that the time had come for privately-funded space missions to the Moon and further destinations.

As we started work on our business plan, we realized that the GLXP is all about reaching out and engaging the general public so one of the first things we did was establish this White Label Space blog. Through this blog we have explored some of the commercial aspects of the GLXP including space advertising, our brand image, interesting news about space that impresses the everyday person (outside the space industry), recognition of our early partners, and even some speculation about how Star Trek would win the GLXP!

In parallel to the early blogging, we formed an engineering team to start developing the early concepts for our GLXP mission. So far we have progressed quite far in our preliminary design but we still have to do an enormous amount of work before we can see our GLXP mission blasting off towards the Moon.

In the coming weeks and months we will gradually introduce our team members and more details of our technical plans. Of course, we will have to keep some of the technical aspects confidential - this is a race after all!

From this blog post, the most important thing you should take away with you is the meaning of our team name. Our team leader Steve Allen, invented the "White Label Space" name during a brainstorming session on the 22'th of June 2008.

A "White Label Product" is a brandless (or generic) product provided ready for branding by another company. Some well known examples of white label products are supermarket goods, records, websites and electronics. Companies with a strong brand image use white label products in order to save the costs and risks of developing new products. In a similar way, White Label Space is a brandless Moon 2.0 space technology start-up, with the "product" being a complete space mission ready to win the GLXP.

Although the cost of access to space is decreasing, space missions are still very expensive and the most simple GLXP mission will have a cost in the many tens of millions of dollars. Our team of dedicated and passionate space engineers, together with our strong technical partners, will bridge the funding gap by developing the necessary technologies and designs in-house, and using the internet to promote our progress and test results.

When we are ready, we will sell our white label space mission to one or more of the biggest brands in the world, who will replace our White Label Space brand with their own brand/s, and together we will take part in humanity's next great step to a sustainable presence on Moon.

White Label Space Joins Google Lunar X PRIZE

Team White Label Space was formed back in early 2008 by a group of experienced space professionals inspired by the challenge of the Google Lunar X PRIZE. With a strong background in space engineering and knowledge of the costs involved, the group realized that there were numerous global companies that could finance its Google Lunar X PRIZE mission with less than 10% of their yearly advertising expenditure.
Like the early Apollo missions, the winning Google Lunar X PRIZE mission will reach billions of people. By reaching this audience, White Label Space will offer an unprecedented advertising opportunity and will create strong and enduring brand associations for international companies operating in industries such as technology, automotive, telecommunications, transportation and finance.
From its Global Headquarters in the Netherlands, White Label Space will continue to build strong partnerships with companies and organisations around the world, particularly those that are interested in stepping into the space market or expanding their existing market share. Making maximum use of web technologies, White Label Space will provide an integrated promotional platform that showcases the partners' capabilities and products. By cooperating in the development of the White Label Space Google Lunar X PRIZE mission, the partners will also develop new technologies and products that can be reused in future space missions.
By extensively using social media to engage the public at large, White Label Space will reach beyond the space-enthusiast community and inspire people from all walks of life to join its exiting journey of discovery and adventure.
Team Composition
The team is comprised of people from many nationalities, including England, Netherlands, Australia, United States, France, Japan, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Norway and Portugal. Another 40 or so collaborators and advisers support the core team
The founding members of Google Lunar X PRIZE Team White Label Space include members of the Lunar Explorers Society (LUNEX) and participants in the Euromoon 2000 project, a European Space Agency (ESA) plan for a lunar surface exploration.
LUNEX is an international space advocacy organization that aims to promote the exploration of the Moon for the benefit of humanity. LUNEX members believe that the Moon is the next and most important step in the human exploration of the solar system and are dedicated to help achieve this goal through furthering international cooperation, outreach activities and general enlightening of the public. In pursuing this aim LUNEX hopes to bring the benefits of the Moon to all people on Earth through a sustainable exploration process.
Euromoon 2000 was an initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA) in the 1990s that aimed to land a robotic craft on the rim of the Shackleton Crater at the Moon's south pole in the year 2000. The efforts to develop the Euromoon 2000 mission plan were led by the Dutch Astronaut Wubbo Ockels, who assembled a team of over 25 engineers and scientists from ESA and industry to make a preliminary mission assessment study, building upon some related studies that took place in the preceding years. ESA was not able to find the budget for the mission but the efforts and progress made at that time are relevant to any European team wishing to compete in the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
The White Label Space team's goal is to appeal to investors by assembling a strong international technical team capable of winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE. White Label Space sees the creation of strong partnerships as a key element of this vision. Partners will benefit by showcasing their technology, products and capabilities on the international stage. To build an effective team, White Label Space will focus on interoperability and will develop interchangeable and modular designs that will lead to new interface standards for low cost space missions. This open and collaborative approach is analogous to what the internet revolution has done for business and the shift away from closed proprietary standards to open ones, where anybody can contribute and benefit.
White Label Space recognizes the enormous possibilities of the internet to share knowledge and organize information, to realize international collaborative projects more ambitious than ever attempted before. White Label Space intends to use the latest such internet technologies and will continue to update and modernise its internet infrastructure, looking to emerging internet technologies such as cloud computing for use with distributed project collaboration.
White Label Space has a strong network of partners around the world that are helping to develop technologies and equipment for its Google Lunar X PRIZE mission.
See the full list of Partners HERE.
White Label Space is continually looking to form new partnerships with capable partners from all over the world and discussions are currently under way with three other potential partners.
White Label Space sees this as the beginning of an adventure that has far reaching consequences for all of humanity. For us the GLXP is the starting point of the next wave of space exploration where the common person can become a contributor and not just a spectator.

May 3, 2009

Ikegami Camera Shows Full Earth from Moon

This video shows what the surface of the Moon looks like in HD. The footage was taken by a special HD camera developed by Ikegami currently orbiting the Moon onboard the Japan's Kaguya spacecraft (also called SELENE). The camera design is a customised version of the HDL-40, modified by Ikegami to withstand the high radiation, vibration and thermal environment of space.