The Google Lunar X Prize’s Race to the Moon Is Over. Nobody Won.

The Google Lunar X Prize’s Race to the Moon Is Over. Nobody Won.


From left, Robert K. Weiss, now vice chairman of the X Prize Foundation, Larry Page, founder of Google, Peter Diamandis, now the executive chairman of X Prize and the astronaut Buzz Aldrin, at an announcement for the Lunar X Prize competition in Los Angeles in 2007. A decade later, the organizers have announced that no one will receive the $20 million prize money.

Amy Tierney/WireImage, via Getty

The Google Lunar X Prize competition, which has spent the past decade dangling a $20 million prize for the first privately financed venture to make it to the moon, came to a quiet end on Tuesday. Not with the ka-boom of a rocket launch or a winner beaming photos back from the lunar surface, but with a tweet and a statement.

The organizers at the X Prize Foundation conceded that none of the five remaining entrants have a chance of getting off the ground by the deadline at the end of March.

The competition, financed by Google and announced with much fanfare in 2007, was a follow-on to the first X Prize competition, for the first privately-financed spacecraft to make it to space. That was won by the SpaceShipOne vehicle designed by Burt Rutan and financed by billionaire Paul G. Allen.

Although they were disappointed to not have a winner, the organizers maintained that the competition was a success.


A rendering of a proposed spacecraft for Moon Express, one of the Lunar X Prize competitors that will not be ready to launch before the March 31 deadline.

Moon Express

“As a result of this competition, we have sparked the conversation and changed expectations with regard to who can land on the moon. Many now believe it’s no longer the sole purview of a few government agencies, but now may be achieved by small teams of entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators from around the world,” said a statement from Peter H. Diamandis, the foundation’s founder and executive chairman, and Marcus Shingles, the chief executive.

The foundation raised the possibility of a new sponsor or continuing the competition without any cash prizes.

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