Mar 29, 2019

XPRIZE to Award $1 Million for Robotic Lunar Landing After Prize is Over

The XPRIZE Foundation has announced that it will offer a $1 million “Moonshot Award” to former Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) competitor SpaceIL if its Beresheet spacecraft is able to successfully land on the lunar surface next month. 

This news sort of explains something interesting that was visible in SpaceIL's Earth selfie photo below. Can you see what it is?

Photo by Beresheet Lander in Earth Obit showing Logo Cluster (credit SpaceIL)
Yes, there is a small GLXP logo on the SpaceIL Beresheet spacecraft in bottom right corner of the logo cluster. 

In the rules for the GLXP the competitors were required to display a substantially-sized GLXP logo on their lunar spacecraft and transmit images of the logo back to Earth. Given that the prize is no longer active, carrying a somewhat smaller logo is understandable since SpaceIL is no longer competing for the full $20 million Grand Prize. Nevertheless, any logo space and mindshare on such an expensive mission is of substantial value and an organisation in SpaceIL's position would have many interested parties willing to pay substantial sums for sharing some of the moonlight limelight.

Aside from being a nice round number of impressive size, the $1 million dollars figure that XPRIZE Foundation is offering for this achievement has some interesting historical significance that is worth exploring:
  • $1 million is a pretty typical price to pay for a major in-space advertising campaign, as can be seen from our Top Ten list of similar campaigns in the past
  • It is also equal the Lander System Milestone Prize that three of the other former GLXP teams were awarded during the prize itself. At the time, the judging panel appointed by XPRIZE Foundation determined that SpaceIL's mission preparations were insufficiently advanced. 
Considering that Google already spent over $25 million on the GLXP, including operations and milestone prizes, spending another $1 million to fly a logo on SpaceIL's historic mission is actually quite a good deal to cement the Google Lunar XPRIZE's important role in kickstarting the era of private lunar exploration.


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