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.
“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.