Speaker: Mr. Curt Walsh
Affiliation: Google Lunar X-Prize Team Synergy Moon
Title: The New Quest for the Moon: An Informative Perspective on Competing in the Google Lunar X Prize
On July 21, 1969, the combined efforts of the United States government, the National Air and Space Administration, and a myriad of scientists, engineers, technicians, and craftsmen culminated in what would become one of the most substantial accomplishments in human history: a manned Moon landing. Placing two human beings safely on the surface of an astronomical body other than that of Earth marked a paradigm shift in what was humanly possible and technologically achievable. Humanity would return to the Moon five more times following its initial lunar incursion, each time expanding upon its knowledge and understanding of the planetary system in which it resides. However, after that state-sponsored program was completed, the majority of lunar missions were conducted through orbital reconnaissance. Then, in 2007, nearly 38 years after the first manned landing and 35 years after the last lander left the surface, a non-profit entity known as the X Prize Foundation created a competition with the primary goal of returning humanity to the lunar surface via a privately funded/ privately developed system. The competition’s title sponsor, Google, was slated to provide a significant monetary reward to whatever team was capable of placing a viable probe on the surface of the moon and traverse it while sending back near real time, high quality video. It was after this level of support and guidance was achieved that the Google Lunar X-Prize officially came into being. Throughout this presentation, I will impart some of the history of the Google Lunar X-Prize as well as the objective of the competition, a portion of the ruleset, and the teams that entered. I will also highlight the nature of my involvement in the competition, how that came to be, and the specific efforts of team Synergy Moon. Lastly, I will review the eventual outcome of the competition and post-competition developments.