News Picks : Private Moon missions remain a long shot
20 February 2014
Nature: Despite the $20 million prize being offered by the X Prize Foundation for the first privately funded team to land a rover on the Moon, and an additional $6 million being offered in “milestone prizes,” it may be some time before any private group can raise sufficient funds to accomplish such a mission. Currently 18 teams are working to put a lander on the Moon by the end of 2015, and 5 teams are in the running to demonstrate a prototype by September 2014. However, the technological hurdles are too high and the financial incentives too low for any team to succeed at this time, according to Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Since the rules and deadlines for the X Prize were first announced in 2007, they have had to be modified several times. Nevertheless, most of the competitors plan to continue working toward a Moon launch, with or without the chance to win the X Prize.