The contest may be over, but the Israeli team isn’t quitting the race.
This week, Google announced that its X Prize contest for flying a spaceship to the moon and sending back selfies has ended.
There were no winners.
The contest was announced in 2007. The deadline was 2014. Then it was extended to March 31, 2018. But with none of the five remaining teams of rocket scientists booked for a launch, Google announced this week that there would no more extensions, and therefore no winner.
“If every X Prize competition we launch has a winner, we are not being audacious enough, and we will continue to launch competitions that are literal or figurative moonshots, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” the leaders of Google’s X Prize Foundation said in a statement.
“Though the prize is coming to an end, we continue to hold a deep admiration for all Google Lunar X Prize teams, and we will be rooting for them as they continue their pursuit of the moon and beyond.”
And SpaceIL, the nonprofit Israeli organization that launched with its eye on X Prize, will continue its pursuit.
In a press release this week, SpaceIL confirmed that it still is moving forward with plans to land on the moon this year. In an interview last year, Eran Privman, the chief executive of SpaceIL, told Space News that even if didn’t win the $20 million prize, the mission would continue.
“At the end of the day, our main target is not only the competition, but putting a spacecraft on the moon,” he said. “If we feel we are not mature enough to meet the deadline, we would be in favor of doing a proper mission rather than stick to the date of the competition.”
Three other teams still competing for the prize were from India, Japan, and the United States; the fourth was a global consortium.
To date, only three countries have landed vehicles on the moon: the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China.