On December 6th, Odyssey Moon, the first team to complete registration for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE, will unveil its plans to land the first private robotic mission on the Moon.
The Planetary Society has joined the Odyssey Moon team to assist in education and public involvement and with international and science liaison for the project.
Society Executive Director, Dr. Louis Friedman said, "The Moon is a stepping stone into the solar system, for governments and for the private sector. Odyssey Moon's leap forward to this stepping stone could presage a new day of commercial ventures beyond Earth." Friedman added that The Planetary Society wants to encourage government and non-governmental projects to explore the solar system.
Odyssey Moon's inaugural mission will involve a unique small robotic lander designed to deliver scientific, exploration and commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon. Odyssey Moon, a private commercial lunar enterprise, is the brainchild of Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, a co-founder of the International Space University.
The winner of the Google Lunar X PRIZE must successfully land a privately funded craft on the lunar surface and survive long enough to complete the mission goals of roaming about the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending a defined data package, called a “Mooncast” back to Earth.
Japan and China now have orbiters at the Moon, and they, along with India and Russia, have announced intentions to send robotic landers and rovers to the Moon in the next decade. The Planetary Society, recognizing many nations’ interest in the Moon, and the U.S. goal of a lunar base, has proposed an International Lunar Decade to coordinate and cooperate among the various missions. “Including a private mission, like Odyssey Moon, will add to public interest in the International Lunar Decade,” said Friedman.