Now that government-funded space travel is no longer in the public vocabulary, private citizens are taking matters into their own hands while competing for the XPRIZE lunar landing competition. The project began in 2007, and JJ Abrams just released a nine-part web series called Moon Shot that goes behind the scenes and shows the world who is taking part in the competition.
You can watch every episode, here, on the XPRIZE site.
Google presents XPRIZE or Moon 2.0
XPRIZE’s giving 16 private teams the chance to win a shot at $30 million in funding for their space expedition to the moon. There will only be one first-place winner, but each team had the chance to be featured in a part of the Moon Shot series.
To win the prize, the teams must design a lunar lander that can travel a minimum of 500 meters on the surface of the moon–and they must have high-definition video and images to prove it.
The complete roster of teams was announced in February 2011, but was open to anyone with a little bit of money and a lot of ambition. The XPRIZE website states they have “…teams ranging from industry experts to well-funded high school students who don’t know what they can’t do.”
Basically, XPRIZE wants to see what people will come up with, whether they’re rocket scientists or not.
It’s not about the money
The competition isn’t just about the money, though. The purpose of the competition is to spur people into action, to believe they can achieve the impossible, and shake the concept of space travel down to the foundations as a result.
There may even be a chance that the teams will spend more than they win, as we saw with the 1927 competition for the Orteig Prize. Charles Lindbergh was the first man to make a transatlantic flight. He dared to go 55 hours without sleep, without food, just to accomplish something no one had ever dared before. This feat Wiley Post to fly around the world in seven days, back in 1933, among other amazing journeys that inspired people across the globe to pursue their dreams.
Moon Shot, the documentary
Moon Shot is not a documentary leading up to an ultimate conclusion, such as we’ve seen with regularly-televised competitions like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. The purpose of JJ Abrams’ documentary is to enliven the human spirit and highlight the individual personalities embarking on a quest to reach the moon.
As of now, there is no official announcement date for declaring the winner; frankly, only two teams have signed launch contracts and they plan on making the journey sometime next year.
For now, we’ll have to watch Moon Shot to get familiar with the crew, then cross our fingers and hope our favorite team actually makes it to the moon.