Team Stellar is one of 24 teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize and plans to send a robotic spacecraft to the Moon. The Google Lunar X prize is an international moon exploration challenge organized by the X Prize Foundation, and sponsored by Google, to land a robotic craft on the lunar surface, to travel at least 500 meters and send data and high-definition images back to Earth. The first privately funded team to do this by December 31 2015 will receive the $20 million grand prize.
Team Stellar’s spacecraft and rover plan to navigate to the Moon, execute a soft landing on the surface, and conduct and extended exploration of the lunar surface all while streaming live 3D Stereoscopic High Definition video back to Earth. All this for a fraction of the cost of the Apollo moon-landings. Team Stellar appears to be budgeting around $50 million for their moonshot. That includes buying a second-hand 30m communications dish which is likely to be sited in Sydney, which will be one of the Team’s two mission control centres.
Most of the Team is Croatian, with Robert Brand providing the local link as well as all of the Team’s communication infrastructure. Brand is an avid space enthusiast and his other projects include near-space balloon flights – he is the local source for quality weather balloons and info navigating the rules to get one of these flights legally launched. Brand’s company has been busy looking to buy disused space communications facilities around the world.
One of the nice things about this project is the opportunity it will afford for local students to become involved in a real moonshot. Regardless of the project outcome there will be many lessons to be learned along that way and it’s great to see Sydney getting in on the action.