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View Full Version : Google puts up 30 Million Prize for Moon Robot


Chris_Elston
09-13-2007, 03:53 PM
http://www.news.com/Google+to+put+30+million+behind+lunar+robot/2100-11397_3-6207800.html?tag=nefd.lede

What do you guys say? Form a FIRST "Google Lunar Bot" team and split the prize?

CraigHickman
09-13-2007, 03:57 PM
I'm in. I'll handle the mechanical of the robot, if someone else works out how to get the thing up there... :p

Bharat Nain
09-13-2007, 04:12 PM
I'm in. I'll handle the mechanical of the robot, if someone else works out how to get the thing up there... :p

I'll handle electrical and programming :p

Joe G.
09-13-2007, 04:18 PM
I'll make the boom :)

EHaskins
09-13-2007, 04:23 PM
I'll watch if I have a chance to get some of that money.;)

Seriously, I'd love to be involved in a group that did that.

techtiger1
09-13-2007, 04:26 PM
Well since Bharat and Craig are in, I'm willing to help out with machining and assembly for sure.

John Gutmann
09-13-2007, 04:38 PM
Well the first thing to go to the moon had what? no more computing power then one of out robots? It is certainly possible we just need to get it there. Who is the strongest one here........?;)

-John

sanddrag
09-13-2007, 04:48 PM
Building the rover is the easy part. Getting it there is the rather difficult part. Dealing with the government in the process might prove to be the Rocky Mountains in the middle of the trail.

Cory
09-13-2007, 06:00 PM
making the thing isn't even the hard part.

The cost of parts for rovers that are space qualified is prohibitively expensive. It would cost you million(s) just to construct a rover.

Bongle
09-13-2007, 07:28 PM
A rover wouldn't be terribly difficult to build, relative to the other tasks involved.

Getting it there with $10,000/lb launch costs, then landing it on the moon with all the complexity (retro-rockets, airbags, robust yet extremely light construction) that entails, that's the tough part.

AdamHeard
09-13-2007, 07:34 PM
It's a noble idea.... but 30 million is hardly enough to cover the cost to design, build, program, test and launch a rover.

Jeremiah Johnson
09-13-2007, 09:55 PM
If only it didn't have to move once there...

Alan Anderson
09-13-2007, 11:21 PM
It's a noble idea.... but 30 million is hardly enough to cover the cost to design, build, program, test and launch a rover.

It's not out of the question for the launch part of the mission to cost less than ten million dollars. That leaves more than twenty million to design and build a landing system and the rover itself. Volunteer labor is cheap, and off-the-shelf components can be surprisingly capable. You don't need military-grade hardware if you design in system-level redundancy, and you might be surprised at how easy it is to use consumer-grade components if you simply put them in a pressurized and air-conditioned box.

Also, a significant amount of rover design is already complete, as part of a number of long-running projects that never got significant funds raised to go beyond the design phase.

Greg Needel
09-13-2007, 11:50 PM
Well you know how I would do this....I would focus on the maneuvering rocket and the robot itself. Try to get connected with the spaceship one team, and just have the satellite as as payload for one of their flights. Once out of the earth's atmosphere they could release it and it would use maneuvering thrusters to get to the moon.

Now obviously it isn't that simple but I think the opportunity to work with companies or teams already in place is the way to make this affordable.

artdutra04
09-14-2007, 12:14 AM
The Lunar Prize will be broken into segments: a $20 million grand prize, a $5 million second prize and another $5 million in bonuses. To win the $20 million, a team must land its rover on the moon by December 2012; thereafter, the prize drops to $15 million until December 2014, when the contest will end.(Highlight is mine.) ;)

Even still, this was an very generous donation from Google to fund this X Prize initiative. It's a great to see companies take a short break from capitalism every once in a while, and donate millions (or if you're Bill Gates, billions) to charities and initiatives that strive to advance science and technology, or make our world a better place.

But I can't seem to get this thought out of my mind: why does Google seem to be so interested in the moon (http://www.google.com/jobs/lunar_job.html)? =)

dtengineering
09-14-2007, 12:40 AM
I'm in. I'll handle the mechanical of the robot, if someone else works out how to get the thing up there... :p

I'm on it... (http://www.cartoonstock.com/blowup.asp?imageref=ksm0165&artist=Kes&topic=cow+jumped+nasa+) and afterwards we'll have blue cheese and burgers!

Jason

Tazlikesrobots
09-14-2007, 03:42 PM
I'm in. I'll handle the mechanical of the robot, if someone else works out how to get the thing up there... :p

That is easy! With enough dynamite, we can put anything in orbit! :D On a more serious note, Armadillo Aerospace is not too far from where I live. Maybe they could loan us a rocket!

Wayne C.
09-14-2007, 04:03 PM
I'll handle electrical and programming :p

actually- it doesn't sound THAT hard.

Dan Richardson
09-14-2007, 05:27 PM
Building the rover is the easy part. Getting it there is the rather difficult part. Dealing with the government in the process might prove to be the Rocky Mountains in the middle of the trail.

Who said it needs to launch in the states? It is also possible to work globally with other small countries. Also it seems possible to work with Nasa, companies do it all the time.

dlavery
09-14-2007, 07:48 PM
The whole idea is not nearly as far-fetched as some people may think. There has already been significant work done to assess the feasibility of a small, private enterprise to reach the Moon. While you have to be careful not to underestimate just how difficult a venture like this is going to be (and by the way, don't even begin to think that just winning the $20 million prize will recover the required investment to make this happen), it is possible - with a lot of dedication, knowledge, effort, and money. One obvious plan would be to start with a Taurus or even a Pegasus vehicle from Orbital Science Space Launch Systems (http://www.orbital.com/SpaceLaunch/), plus the output of the Lunar Exploration and Development project from Transformational Space Corporation (http://www.transformspace.com/) (formerly LunaCorp), plus the Icebreaker system from the CMU Lunar Rover Initiative (http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/projects/lri//). All the basic building blocks are there for some very enterprising group to put a robotic rover on the Moon.

-dave

Erin Rapacki
09-15-2007, 01:37 PM
Just remember to do some research on lunar dust, I hear its nasty.

lbridgwater
09-15-2007, 02:21 PM
I would rather go to Mars. granted the trip sucks, the environment is so much more friendly on Mars.

Sean Schuff
09-15-2007, 02:47 PM
The whole idea is not nearly as far-fetched as some people may think.

Dibs Dave on our team!

Is it really doable for under $30 million or is this just a token award similar to the $20 million Ansari X Prize that Paul Allen invested $30 million of his own money to win?

Sounds like things are getting exciting! Could this be the FRC Challenge for 2010 or beyond?

Sean

Billfred
09-15-2007, 03:36 PM
Sounds like things are getting exciting! Could this be the FRC Challenge for 2010 or beyond?

Sean
It would explain the new controller coming in 2009, though the whole privately-funded thing might throw off the NASA teams. (Though 233 would otherwise have the edge, what with being able to be seen from Earth with their color scheme...)

dlavery
09-15-2007, 04:08 PM
Is it really doable for under $30 million or is this just a token award similar to the $20 million Ansari X Prize that Paul Allen invested $30 million of his own money to win?
Probably not. But that isn't the point of the prize.

Realistically, you can count on an adsolute minimum of $12-15 million being required for the launch vehicle, right off the bat. Then add in your development costs, assembly and test efforts, integration support, flight operations, and commincations costs. It can certainly be done in a fashion that is less expensive than many previous efforts. But that does not mean it will be cheap. By the time you are done, the actual costs required to build the winning system will probably significantly overwhelm the $20 million first prize (the remainder of the $30 million purse goes for the other prizes in the competition - it does not all go to the "winner").

The prize is not intended to completely cover the development investment required to win the competition. It is intended to be a big incentive that will help defray _some_ of the development costs, and encourage demonstrations that such an activity is technically feasible. The anticipation is the winning team would go on and develop further (commercial) applications of the demonstrated capability. These applications would generate the additional funds required to cover the remainder of the development costs and continued (profitable?) operations.

-dave

Protronie
09-15-2007, 08:23 PM
First off I wouldn't let NASA anywhere near it... their track record for on time delivery or money management isn't that great. :rolleyes:

I'd talk to the euro guys or that Sea Launch outfit first.

I totally agree with some of the other posters... private enterprise could build a robot for the moon at a fraction of the government's construction cost... right off the bat, NO $600.00 Mr Coffee machines, NO $800.00 toilet seats, and NO weekend trips to the Virgin Islands for the bosses! :eek:

However... there will be, free Mt Dew's, friday pig pickings, and a big screen tv to watch the NASCAR races! :cool:

Stuart
09-15-2007, 09:31 PM
Well count Stuart AreoSpace out.

spent all day throwing rocks towards the sky all I got was 3 angry neighbors and a mild concussion.

lynca
09-20-2007, 08:25 AM
One obvious plan would be to start with a Taurus or even a Pegasus vehicle from Orbital Science Space Launch Systems (http://www.orbital.com/SpaceLaunch/), plus the output of the Lunar Exploration and Development project from Transformational Space Corporation (http://www.transformspace.com/) (formerly LunaCorp), plus the Icebreaker system from the CMU Lunar Rover Initiative (http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/projects/lri//). All the basic building blocks are there for some very enterprising group to put a robotic rover on the Moon.

-dave

I've seen the Scarab system in person and it is a very impressive robot. Even if this system doesn't go to the moon, its a fully sealed motor drive that could be capable of exploring coal mines without sparking. Like some of CMU's other mining robots (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12637032).

whytheheckme
09-20-2007, 12:52 PM
HA... This Google lunar site (http://www.google.com/jobs/lunar_job.html) that Arthur put it is HILARIOUS!

With talk about creating "Google's initial base, a spherical structure containing living quarters and a small data center, will take two and a half years to construct. This first G.C.H.E.E.S.E ball has been christened "the Googlunaplex" and will be populated by a dedicated cadre of software engineers, hardware operations technicians, cable installers, quantum mechanics and space planners."

and talk about terrestrials... "Google is firmly committed to using only earth-originated staffers and no jobs will be outsourced to lunar residents or those from other planetary systems unless the skill sets they offer cannot be easily replicated by native born terrestrials."

and a sushi chef... "The Googlunaplex will house 35 engineers, 27,000 low cost web servers, 2 massage therapists and a sushi chef formerly employed by the pop group Hanson."

Google has outdone themselves... yet again.

Jacob

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by April 1, 2007 and have proof of earth residency. Google is an equal opportunity employer.

jgannon
09-21-2007, 02:54 PM
Red Whittaker has already announced that Carnegie Mellon University will be competing for the X-Prize. I may be a little biased, but it's worth noting that if any graduating seniors are interested in getting involved with the X-Prize project, CMU might not be a bad place to do it.

Article: http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/33978/113/

pufame
09-23-2007, 10:11 AM
At least in this challenge there wouldn't be any robots playing defense :D !

Alan Anderson
09-23-2007, 01:45 PM
At least in this challenge there wouldn't be any robots playing defense :D !

A follow-on Mars prize might be more of a challenge in that way. Perhaps we'd see some creative ideas for how best to appease the Great Galactic Goul?