Thursday, September 13, 2007

The New X prize.

I'm really disappointed in the new Google Lunar Xprize.
It would be a great prize 10 years from now, but today it just illustrates the core problem with space access. The high cost of access to low earth orbit.

The grand prize is 20M only twice what the original x-prize, yet the problem is at least 100 times as hard. I can't imagine what group or company would go after this prize.

Even if it is won, I fear it will not add much to reducing the cost of access.

It might be done as a stunt with a 500 gm Microrover.

I fear it will be a cool footnote, and will be a lot like Bigelows Americas space prize, The ratio of difficulty to winnings is just too high. (I personally think that Bigelows prize is of similar difficulty to the Google Lunar Xprize, and is twice the $$)

There are a number of firms working on high performance sub orbital aiming toward orbital launchers , Armadillo, Garvey Space, Micro-launchers, Masten etc...

If the intent of prizes is to encourage space exploration, A prize to encourage transport development would be so much more useful. I'd like to see a prize for a reusable orbital launcher, just something to launch 350 gram can sats.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

If a private firm were to be able to put a rover on the moon, would it not be able to put a solar powered mass driver on the Apophis asteroid which is scheduled to pass 22k miles from the Earth in 2029? Google could offer a prize to the company that could nudge that asteroid into making a direct hit on the Earth.

Anonymous said...

Pile of crap, especially the multimedia requirements. HD video from the moon? That's 25 mbits/sec. I bet a transmission system for sending that signal 250000 miles would cost millions of dollars.

chennes said...

The hope seems to be that the 30 million is enough to push a team that was already trying for orbit into taking the next leap and doing something "really cool". With no requirement that the rover be able to be returned, I'm not convinced how much harder this is than orbit and de-orbit. I do agree that this will end up being a micro-rover solution, but that is not to say that no useful technology will be developed in the process. It's not like the current lunar landers are actually good for anything, either. But you are all gaining a ton of experience doing it, and the technology developed in the process can be applied to other vehicle types. My big fear is that the time commitment necessary to do this will scare off teams like yours and Armadillo, where the main people have day jobs to worry about.

chennes said...

Regarding the multimedia transmission: it is unclear from the writeup on the XPRIZE site whether the HD video must be streamed, or if a lower-quality version can be used for the "near real-time" video. They do indicate that the total data transmission requirement should be around 1 gigabyte. Besides, you can keep the transmission system (relatively) cheap and spend the real money on the receiving system... which has no weight restrictions.

Paul Breed said...

The ATA makes a dammed good receiving setup. So your receiver is world class... the data transmission is not the hard part. The getting to orbit and then soft landing on the moon is the hard part.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the hard part is reaching escape velocity: 25,000 MPH.

Paul Breed said...

DV's
Earth to LEO 9.7K
LEO to moon 5.9K

DV to win level 2 of this XPC..
1.8

So Payl Elon 7M for a Falcon1, then
build a vaccume capable vehicle that has 6K delta Vee with a tiny 1Kg rover....

Anonymous said...

.
.

Hey Google, the Moonrovers Prize was MY idea!!!

http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts/008moonprize.html

.

hi Paul

I've redesigned my ghostNASA blog and changed its purpose from a "virtual Space Agency" to a place where publish my opinions about Space

http://www.ghostnasa.com/

do you want to exchange a blog roll's link with my blog?

gaetano

.
.

Derek said...

Falcon 1 can only send 700 kg into LEO. It makes no mention of GSO, so I figure there's no way it can reach the moon.

You'd have to use a Falcon 9, which starts at $35M.

Ed said...

I suppose that it will take "unreasonable" people to even attempt this. ;)

Paul Breed said...

There is a fine line between unreasonable and insane.
I'm not sure what side of the line an
attempt at the Google Lunar Xprize
would be on...

Paul

Stephen said...

I was looking for more info on companies that might compete for this prize and found your blog. It's great! Very honest and real. Please keep posting. Thanks.

Ed said...

You know, Paul, if you can launch a 350 gram cansat for a reasonable price, hen it isn't that much of a stretch from there to launch a 350 gram cansat to the moon. After all, once you're in orbit you're halfway to anywhere...

qraal said...

Two Words: harenodynamic landing.

Make your lander slide. Maybe?

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