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NASA Awards Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data (ILDD) Contracts! October 19, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : Google Lunar X Prize, NASA, private space , trackback

NASA has offered six contracts under its new Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) program, all to Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors—including the new Moon Express team!

Each contract can be worth up to $10 million, coming from the total pool of $30.1 million.

The recipients:

NASA will essentially pay these companies for data they collect on how to operate a low-cost lunar mission. As the official Google Lunar X PRIZE site notes, each award starts as at least $10,000, and can grow as teams supply new data packages.

The idea behind this program (and others forwarded by the Obama administration) is to focus NASA on the development of the private space industry, which could therefore in turn help the American economy; all six recipients being based in the U.S. (See my feature from February on the American GLXP teams.)

Something to note is the total amount available: $30.1 million, which happens to be very close to the $30 million in prizes available from winning the X PRIZE itself. The GLXP funds are a $15-20 million (depending on completion date) main prize, a $5 million second prize, and $5 million in bonus prizes. So, the final funds these teams could have available from the ILDD could very well end up being more than they could get from the GLXP itself (all six can’t win the big bacon, after all).

So, not only are these six enterprises getting a potentially very nice boost, one of them could then (thanks in part to the boost itself) then go on to win the prize money…and bring it home to the good ol’ US of A. Seems like a pretty shrewd way for the U.S. government to support the industry many ways, with one move.

Regardless, this cements the long-term prospects of all involved (and gets the new Moon Express team, headed by former Odyssey Moon leader Bob Richards, off to a hot start). For an analysis of the teams’ standings, funding and otherwise, check out Evadot’s updated GLXP Scorecard :)


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