August 8, 2012
Galactic Suite Vying For Google Lunar X Prize
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Keeping their eyes on the prize, one team is attempting to win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize to send a rover to the moon.
Galactic Suite announced it has signed a launch service contract for a Chinese rocket that will carry its robot to the moon in June 2014.
The Google Lunar X Prize is an incentive competition that challenges space professionals and engineers to build and launch a privately funded lunar rover that could complete a series of exploration and transmission tasks.
The prize is one of four active competitions offered through the X Prize foundation, which is a leading nonprofit organization for creating and managing large-scale, global incentive competitions.
Leaders from Galactic Suite and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation met in Paris to formalize the agreement.
"Through this launch service contract, Barcelona Moon Team consolidates itself at the head of the teams participating in the competition," Xavier Claramunt, Galactic Suite president and Barcelona Moon Team leader, said in a press release.
The contract states that China will provide a Long March 2C launcher with an upper stage CTS2 for insertion into the lunar transfer orbit. This launcher will carry the rover that will make the correction and deceleration operations for insertion into lunar orbit before landing on the Moon's surface.
"Considering that the investment required to achieve the mission is provided by private companies through sponsorship, the award will also be divided between the sponsors," Claramunt said in the press release.
The success of the mission will mean developing qualification of technology and capabilities in complex missions that result in a competitive advantage for the future.
The team has designed its mission to carry up to 55 pounds of additional payload, besides the rover. This extra payload will be offered up to universities, commercial or pharmaceutical companies that would like to use it.
Because of a ban on launching sensitive American technology onboard Chinese launchers, Galactic Suite is having to design a lunar robot that does not use any American components that may interfere with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
This regulation will prevent American companies from bringing their technology products to the mission.