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Moon Roundup: Launch News & Plants on the Moon

This week, in the Google Lunar XPRIZE…

NASA's Mighty Eagle under the controls of Moon Express---an important tech milestone.

Launch news, technology milestones, and plants on the Moon as the teams made significant progress...

Launch News

Penn State Lunar Lion  have paid their launch reservation fee---and plan to launch in 2015!

Image: from the team's new 30-second promo.

Former Google Lunar XPRIZE team Phoenicia  is coordinating things for them, helping the Lunar Lion spacecraft be part of a larger launch:

"While the Lunar Lion is the largest spacecraft on this launch, it will be accompanied by several mid-sized Earth satellites that will be placed in low Earth orbit. Once those customers’ spacecraft have been released, the Lunar Lion will be pushed on to its lunar-intercept trajectory, accompanied by other payloads, including several CubeSats.” -Wiliam Baird (pictured; Mercury News image) of Team Phoenicia, press release

"The cost saved by committing to this launch is considerable. We initially used the listed cost of an entire launch vehicle in our fundraising targets and mission budget projections. Now we only have to target a fraction of that cost for launch and can apply our energy and funding to other areas of the mission." -Michael Paul (pictured), Penn State Lunar Lion, press release

The team also talked about their total budget---which comes out to $60 million for their Moon mission.

Lander Wings

Moon Express  has completed another important test with NASA's Mighty Eagle lander!:

Taking control of the lander with their own guidance systems, the flight was an important milestone for the team's mission development.

" has earned her wings on We hit our 3 meter altitude mark with ease and grace. Smooth touchdown and we are fine!" -Jim Kaidy of Moon Express (pictured, left).

NASA Plants on the Moon

Could one (or more) of the Google Lunar XPRIZE teams be sending NASA plants to the Moon?

Some new articles popped up, talking about the idea from NASA---which NASA mentioned earlier this year as being something that would ride on the Moon Express  2015 mission.

"After landing in late 2015, water will be added to the seeds in the module and their growth will be monitored for 5-10 days and compared to Earth based controls. Seeds will include Arabidopsis [pictured above], basil, and turnips. This will be the first life sciences experiment on another world and an important first step in the utilization of plants for human life support." - NASA

You can read more about the Lunar Plant Growth Chamber project at the official NASA page!

Sam Rockwell with...himself...as moon colonists tending their plants in the movie "Moon".

Destination Moon

Part Time Scientists  revealed their planned mission destination: the Taurus-Littrow valley!:

The site is where humans last stepped foot on the Moon, during Apollo 17. Explore the valley in HD detail with NASA's (epic) QuickMap!

Blizzard Development

And, last but not least, Independence-X  shared an image of them hard at work on their BLIZZARD moon rover:

Honorable Mentions:

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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

[November 19th-November 26th, 2013.]

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Lunar Roundup
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