A Farewell from the Southern California Selene Group
For us, the fun part is over. We have had a wonderful team, and we’ve all worked closely together to come up with an innovative, lightweight and low-cost spacecraft design. It has been a really good five months.
The Team Summit’s Guidelines workshop showed that the more bureaucratic part of the mission has begun. While on a personal level, I liked each of the leaders there from XPF, and enjoyed interacting with them, I was puzzled at the somewhat cavalier way they seemed to dismiss some of the teams’ concerns. For example, we were very proud of the fact that our team had managed to get some surplus company fuel tanks; when I asked about it, without much thought I was told “you’ll have to get a ruling on that.” Also, when I asked something about our camera design (a design we had worked very hard on), I was told that the way we were doing it would not be allowed.
HUH? Do they know how hard we have worked on this?
I inwardly cringed at their responses to some of the other team’s concerns. The delightful FredNet team. Those innovative and very impressive ARCA guys (who had lugged across Europe a full-scale mockup of their craft to ISU for display!). Colleen (Astrobotics), Paul (Quantum3), Mary (LunaTrex) – they all had concerns regarding the media aspects of the rules that I did not feel were adequately addressed, and maybe even more important -- even adequately appreciated.
The cumulative effect coming from the XPF leadership was one of discouragement, rather than encouragement.
I had a sudden moment of clarity when I realized that even if we could make it through our enormous hurdles of getting a suitable launch vehicle, and even if we could get a sponsor, for the reasons stated here and in my previous blog, I no longer even wanted to win this prize!!
When I discussed all this later with our team leader Harold Rosen, he agreed completely. He is far too independent, and far too smart, to waste any more time in pursuing what he now knows to be a different goal (an “outrageously unrealistic version of space commercialization,” to use his words) than what he had originally thought (a simple contest to see who could get to the moon first and send back the required Mooncasts). As he said to me, he’s got more important things to work on…!
I will miss interacting with Will Pomerantz and Becky Ramsey of the X PRIZE Foundation. Those two were absolutely fantastic in every way, very encouraging, and I admire and like them very much.
But we are OUT. Good-bye to all, and best of luck to all the other teams.