|40 years ago, 500 million people worldwide watched as the first man landed on the Moon. His first step proclaimed the Americans as winners of a space race that had lasted several. |
Unfortunately, although the Moon represents the perfect outpost for the exploration of the Solar System, the Apollo Program which had generated $25.000 million in investment (approximately 135,000 million current dollars), did not receive the continuity it deserved.
Now that confrontation has given way to cooperation (sixteen countries worked together in building the International Space Station), it is time to realize the fantastic opportunity the Moon presents for the future of Mankind:
- Space exploration is costly, each kilogram of fuel and each spacecraft must be launched out of the strong gravitational field of the Earth. The Moon, on the other side, is a natural storehouse: the surface contains more than 40% oxygen which is also the essential component of rocket fuel. At the same time because its gravity is one-eighth that of the Earth, it is 22 times easier to launch probes and missions from there. The Moon represents the intermediate step to reach the rest of the universe.
- Moreover, should a large and stable platform be built on the moon, without the impediments of the Earth's atmosphere, it would allow optimum astronomical observation, particularly in its most remote, without the interference of radio waves, television and data that are emitted from the Earth. In short, a radio telescope could detect energy from the origin of the universe.
- Furthermore, the moon can be a source of solutions to some of the environmental problems that affect the Earth. For over 30 years, NASA has studied different ways to capture the abundant solar energy for later use on the Earth. Despite the extensive knowledge gathered in this technology, the high costs involved in sending materials out of Earth's gravitational field have hindered the implementation of these systems. However, if lunar material could be used for the construction and launch of these space collectors, a continuous supply through the airwaves from High Earth Orbit could be possible. This energy could be used (even at night) to charge electric cars, generate hydrogen from water or produce synthetic fuels for aviation.
- Renowned scientists like Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan and Konstantine Tsiolkovsky have warned of the need to expand to the solar system as a means of preserving the human species in the event of a major cataclysm on Earth due to the impact of a meteorite, etc. Currently projects also have developed putting the moon, as a biological library, a new Noah's Ark, to ensure the preservation of life beyond Earth. In addition, exploration and survival even further afield, such as on Mars, require important technological breakthroughs to be tested first on the moon.
- Finally, the technologies developed during space exploration transfer to society in the form of countless spin-offs like Velcro, the LED lights, solar panels, fireproofing materials, etc. Studies from governmental agencies such as NASA and the ESA suggest that every euro invested in space research reverses 4 to 6 euros in benefits to other sectors.
The Google Lunar X-Prize
The Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) is an international competition that rewards the first teams to get a robot to the Moon with mainly private funding.
The $30 million competition is segmented between a Grand Prize of $20 million, a second prize of $5 million and $5 million in various special awards. To win the Grand Prix, the team must:
- Send to the Moon a privately financed vehicle that must land on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission’s objectives.
- Drive 500 meters in guided mode in a straight line (without circles around the lunar lander.)
- Transmit data to the Earth, including photographs and videos in high resolution at the time of landing and while travelling the 500m.
The competition also defines optional awards for the teams that:
- Manage to travel 5 kilometres above the lunar surface in guided mode in a straight line
- Transmit images, video and other hardware of remains or footprints of the Apollo astronauts.
- Transmit images, video and other hardware of remains of American and Russian robotic missions.
- Survive the lunar night (14.5 days) at temperatures below 150 ° C.
- Show the presence of water on the moon's surface.
The event is organized by the X Prize Foundation in collaboration with the Internet services company Google. The X-Prize Foundation is an institution that follows the slogan "revolution through competition" to bring about radical breakthroughs in science and technology for the benefit of mankind. The Foundation and its partners are sponsoring competitions in Space and Underwater Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education and Global Development.
Since Dennis Tito became the first space tourist in 2001 and Burt Rutan built the first privately financed spacecraft in 2004, a new path in the space sector has opened where national agencies share the limelight with new players from the private sector. As an illustration of this new era, the U.S. administration, has created the ILDD program solely for the purpose of buying hardware and data from the GLPX teams and has added $ 30 million to the GLPX competition
Through the GLXP, teams will make large investments to carry out their missions, with the conviction of commercial viability for space exploration especially Lunar.
The Barcelona Moon Team (BMT)
The BMT is the only Spanish team in the competition and brings together businesses, nonprofit organizations and universities.
Its participation in the GLPX competition is motivated by the opportunity to lead a complex space mission. For the first time, the industry is the prime contractor of a space mission. This will provide it with new proven experience and capabilities that will give rise to additional competitive advantage for the industry. It is expected that this additional competitive edge will allow companies to win more contracts than through traditional sources of recruitment, thus closing a positive feedback loop.
Another desired effect is that its participation in the GLPX will generate an event of exceptional public interest. This will not only promote scientific and technical careers among young people, creating new skilled workforce for the future, but also attract international talent, and most importantly stop the exodus of professionals, graduates and doctors to other countries and regions.
Galactic Suite Moonrace
Galactic Suite Moonrace is the subsidiary of the coordinator of the project: Galactic Suite. By participating in the GLXP, GSMR will collect the knowledge generated by the team that will enable it to develop future missions for the government or for commercial purposes.
The company is developing a network of organizations, companies and academic research groups with individual experience in very specific fields of ESA missions, which will generate new knowledge for future missions.