The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million international competition to land a robot on the surface of the Moon safely, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth.
As the lead investor in Astrobotic, and the only British investor involved in the whole competition, Julian Ranger is keeping the UK firmly on the map for privately funded space travel. Julian runs iBundle, an innovation hub in Surrey, and feels very strongly about backing technology, innovation and engineering:
“This project demonstrates what can be done when great ideas are given the opportunity to flourish. I feel very strongly that Britain should back exciting projects, good ideas and entrepreneurial spirit, which is why we started iBundle.co.uk. Astrobotic sums up the collaborative working practices that make businesses successful, and we can learn a lot from this mission. All power to the Astrobotic team!”
Astrobotic will, as part of the moon landings planned:
offer children that win a competition to control the robot for a short time period from Earth
broadcast music from space
offer the opportunity for ‘cremains’
David Gump, President of Astrobotic, said that “Julian’s investment has meant the difference between entering this project or admitting defeat. We have a good deal more investment to find, but we are very confident in our mission and our robots, not least thanks to Julian’s foresight and backing. We hope and believe we can win the Prize!”
All 22 teams are giving progress reports on 4 and 5 October, during the United Nations World Space Week, on the Isle of Man, which has become a centre for space science.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Pain firstname.lastname@example.org or Abigail Harrison email@example.com or call 01252 899969.
Julian and members of the Astrobotic team are available for interview from 3 October on site at the Summit, or electronically.
Photos are also available.
Websites to visit:
Julian Ranger www.iBundle.co.uk
Astrobotic Technology http://astrobotictechnology.com/
Google Lunar X PRIZE http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/
Isle of Man Team Summit http://www.spaceisle.com/
Notes to editors:
About the X PRIZE Foundation and the Google Lunar X PRIZE
The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational non-profit organisation whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity thereby inspiring the formation of new industries, jobs and the revitalisation of markets that are currently stuck. Today, it is widely recognised as the leader in fostering innovation through competition.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 75% privately funded and must be registered to compete by December 31, 2010. The first team to land on the Moon and complete the mission objectives will be awarded $20 million; the full first prize is available until December 31, 2015. However, if a government mission lands before that, the first prize will drop to $15 million. The second team to do so will be awarded $5 million. Another $5 million will be awarded in bonus prizes.
About the event, 4-5 October 2010
The fourth Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit will be hosted on the Isle of Man on October 4-5, 2010 during the United Nations declared World Space Week. Senior executives from many of the twenty-two teams competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE will come together to interact directly with representatives from Google and the X PRIZE Foundation, industry experts and Space Isle representatives from the Isle of Man. Each of these teams is striving to claim a share of the US $30 million prize purse money by becoming the first privately funded team to send a robot to the Moon that can travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth.
Over the course of the two day summit, the teams will present the progress of their missions, discuss the competitions rules and judging procedures, and discuss how to best serve the educational mission of the competition while working on their lunar robots. Teams will also meet with key officials and space companies that operate on the Isle of Man, who will provide information and advice to help the teams. Team members and other experts will also take time to visit with local high school students to teach them about the exciting careers that await those who apply themselves in subjects such as science, engineering and mathematics. To celebrate World Space Week, summit attendees will attend a reception and star-gazing in the historic Castle Rushen, Castletown, which dates back to the 13th century.
The Astrobotic Vision
Second to enter the prize (after Odyssey Moon, their main competitor), Astrobotic formed just two months after Google announced it would offer $30m for the Lunar X PRIZE. The company is an amalgamation of technology from Carnegie Mellon University and several aerospace corporations.
The company, headed by William "Red" Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon, has set a goal of landing a rover in the Sea of Tranquility and assessing the Apollo 11 mission landing site.
In 2007, Whittaker led a Carnegie Mellon robotics team to win the $2m first place prize in an autonomous vehicle contest, DARPA Urban Challenge – and won.
Involvement of Julian Ranger in Astrobotic and the Google Lunar X PRIZE
Julian Ranger is an entrepreneur and investor, having set up iBundle in 2007 to support and develop new businesses in the technology sector.
As part of this support for the technology sector, Julian is currently the lead investor in Astrobotic, with a view to contributing to its mission to the moon as part of the Lunar X PRIZE challenge. He is the only British investor in the company and the only known British investor in any of the teams competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
Julian is an ambassador of engineering as a career option for young people, inspiring uptake of the profession through promotion of exciting projects such as the Google Lunar X PRIZE, and supporting start-ups and great ideas.
Astrobotic at the Isle of Man Google Lunar X PRIZE conference (SpaceIsle.com)
The following will be in attendance at the event:
President of Astrobotic, David Gump
Investor, Julian Ranger
Chairman and Chief Technical Officer William "Red" Whittaker will be available for interviews from the USA.