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Moon Roundup: The Eighteen

This week, in the Google Lunar XPRIZE...

 

Five teams were selected as finalists for this year's Milestone Prizes---$6 million in optional prizes designed to recognize team achievements for developing key technologies---as all 18 teams proved they're forging ahead to the Moon, with rocket tests, rover battles, sports drinks on the Moon, and more!

Lion's Fire

Penn State Lunar Lion  completed an important (and fiery!) rocket test, annotating what did (and did not) go according to plan:

While they also raised a cool $133,768 in supplemental funds through their crowdfunding effort! Not too shabby.

Sweat, Time Capsules, and Sponsors

Meanwhile, fellow Pennsylvanians Astrobotic  scored a major customer: they'll be taking a bottle of the popular Japanese sports drink Pocari Sweat to the Moon!

 

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton with one of their Moon rovers, Polaris.

The drink will be part of a time capsule assembled by Singapore commercial space company Astroscale.

Like Red Bull and their Stratos jump, space can be a pretty noticable place to advertise---so missions to the Moon are quite the opportunity for any brand to get their name out there! Even for a sports drink.

Shaken, Not Stirred

And speaking of Japan, team Hakuto 's rovers---now named TETRIS & MOONRAKER (how awesome is that?)---got out to the sand dunes for some field tests:

Rover Battle

And in a epic battle, Team Indus  had students design rovers to potentially make it onto their mission---and smack each other down in a gauntlet of tests:

 

That one's a must-watch, and there's more to come!

Return of the Jedi

A couple of key players from former Google Lunar XPRIZE teams are back---in new roles with Synergy Moon !

Welcome back, Blaze Sanders (formerly of withdrawn team JURBAN) and Curt Walsh (formerly of withdrawn team Phoenicia---and a Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X Challenge veteran)!

"Curt formed team Seraphim Works to build a rocket powered lander and participate in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. He brings the skeleton of that lander with him to our team, which we will use as a test platform for our lander technology." -Synergy Moon

Interesting developments for the team!

Students, Stratosphere

Meanwhile, Team Stellar  has launched their stratospheric balloon competition---where student teams can compete to have their payloads on a balloon flight...and win prize money in the process!

 

Multifunction

And SpaceIL 's Avi Barliya talked about the ways in which they are making the parts of their spacecraft multi-functional:

 

ATHLETEs on the Moon

While team Italia  blogged about the NASA ATHLETE robot and its influences on their own Moon robot (pictured below):

 

Catching On

And last, but not least, there was widespread media coverage of the Milestone Prizes! A rundown (with some of the highlights):

...And that's just the tip of the iceberg! The race is heating up, and the world is catching on...

---

I'll be rounding up these news items every week, so keep an eye here for the latest developments from the moon race!

And for the full skinny on everything that happens, follow the official feeds for team blogs, team social, and team videos. You can also sign up for the XPRIZE newsletter to get cool PRIZE news in your inbox!

~Nick Azer

[February 12th-February 25th, 2014.]

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Lunar Roundup
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