Though a little clumsy in their presentation and perhaps little lacking in organizational detail, a new non-profit group headlined by space agencies and industry are starting a new moon race, one where technology development is the goal.
The new German non-profit, The Moon Race NPO gGmbH, brings together European and North American backing to the venture with Airbus, the European Space Agency, and Vinci Construction headlining the European cadre and Blue Origin and the Agencia Espacial Mexicana headlining the North American contingent. More partners will be added as the project moves forward and Airbus is the leading partner.
The premise is simple. We’re heading back to the moon, this time not just to visit, but to build a sustainable long-term moon base and needed infrastructure.
In 2019 the organization will open the Moon Race competition with challenges that startups and small to medium enterprises around the world will compete for. It may sound a bit like the Google Lunar X-Prize, but it’s not. For one, those winning challenges not only get prize money, but they’ll get their hardware sent to the moon at no charge after the five year competition comes to an end. Who would provide that flight? Well that would be facilitated in part by partner Blue Origin on a third party lander or rover.
The competition will have four parallel technology streams;
- Manufacturing – build the first artefact made of lunar soil
- Energy – Enlighten the moon night
- Resources – Fill the first bottle of moon water
- Biology – Sustain the first lunar greenhouse
Competitors will have to successfully complete milestones with ever increasing challenges.
The benefits to participation according to the organization are; support and guidance from The Moon Race, monetary awards, privileged position to shape the lunar economy, access to experimental facilities and International exposure.
Those competing will have to self-fund their technologies but with the carrot of launch to the moon as part of the prize, there surely will be many who apply.