Mann on the Moon

Odyssey Moon is headquartered on the island.

Backyard inventors are hoping to land their own weird contraptions on the moon after Google launched a 20 million-pound competition.   NASA had estimated that such flights would cost more than 1 billion pounds – with some disbelievers suggesting that it is virtually unthinkable to voyage to the moon. But since the Isle of Man government (a self-governing British Crown Dependency) has lifted tax restrictions on such flights, a flurry of do-it-yourself space voyages are anticipated.

Internet search giant Google became one of the first to take advantage of the tax break when it announced the Lunar X prize in September 2007, reports the Daily Mail. Twenty-two teams which have worked tirelessly on their contraptions will meet in the Isle of Man Tuesday to fine tune the final details of the missions.

Representing Britain in the competition is the crew behind Astrobotic, a four-wheeled silver machine that resembles a moving road sign. Julian Ranger, the British financier who is raising cash for Astrobotic, said: “We believe we can get the cost (of reaching the moon) down to $50 million, a price tag that will transform lunar exploration and make the moon a target for all sorts of commercial operations. Part of our business plan will be to get our rover to move round the site and take a 3D high-definition film of it.”

Other hopefuls in the competition include Team Italia whose craft is a green dome supported by six spider-like legs. America’s entry, Jurban, looks like a large worm designed to negotiate the moon’s rough terrain of craters with several small capsules joined together in the same way as a train.

The Barcelona Moon Team has entered a more traditional flying-saucer that was built by a jewellery designer. It has a body that resembles an upside down bow with flashing lights on the rim.

The $20 million prize will be given to the first team that lands their craft on the moon and directs a journey of more that 500 metres. This article is from the Economic Times, published by the India Times.

The Google Lunar X Prize was held on the Island over the past weekend.
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.

This little fella is Italian.

“We are incredibly excited for this event,” noted William Pomerantz, the Senior Director for Space Prizes at the non-profit X PRIZE Foundation. “The Google Lunar X PRIZE has a great deal of momentum now, with an incredible roster of teams and with major agencies such as NASA stepping up to become customers of our teams. We’re happy we could hold this summit during World Space Week and in a location like the Isle of Man, which truly represents the new era of innovative space commerce.”

The Isle of Man’s Minister for Economic Development, Allan Bell MHK, commented, “It is a great honor for the Isle of Man to be selected to host the Google Lunar X PRIZE Summit. The Government has a very pro-space orientation and we are committed to helping the space industry flourish. For example, our track record of being at the forefront of new industries resulted in the Isle of Man successfully bidding to host the International Institute of Space Commerce, fending off competition from major cities across the world.” This Summit will further underscore how the Government of the Isle of Man works closely with private sector initiatives and technological innovation to foster the international commercial space sector.”