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The American Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams February 23, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize.

With NASA shifting to focus on supporting American private space, it’s a good time to break out the old red-white-and-blue with a look at the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams based or rooted primarily in the U.S. (and therefore companies that could get a push from the U.S. government in the near future, indirectly or not).

In order of announced, and focusing on relatively active teams (some ‘official’ teams haven’t updated in over a year; I’ll list those at the end, and if there’s any signs of life I’ll update the post):

Highly Active Teams


Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University there, Astrobotic Technology, Inc. has ambitious plans beyond just the X PRIZE. Their “Tranquility Trek” mission is just the first in a series of as many as 6+ missions (detailed in a 2008 lunar data white paper [PDF] as including ‘scouts’, an ice surveyor, and a moon dozer) over the first half or so of this decade.

Astrobotic has also already been selected by NASA for two lunar contracts—one for excavation techniques, and one for simulation of lunar gravity.

Next Giant Leap

Next Giant Leap is an effort hailing from Deadwood, South Dakota, that boasts an impressive slate of team member organizations: The Sierra Nevada Corp.—recent recipients of $20 million in NASA CCDev stimulus funds for commercial crew transportation development; MIT; the Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA; the Aurora Flight Services Corp.; and Jolt Media.

Since their founding in 2007 and official reveal (previously the ‘mystery team’) a year later, Next Giant Leap has leapt to the forefront of the GLXP competition.


The Juxtopia Urban Robotic Brilliant Application Network (JURBAN) effort is a part of not-for-profit science and tech organization Juxtopia, focusing on working with disadvantaged youths to build robotics.

While they haven’t had an official blog post since 2008, their Twitter remains active, so check that out for updates on their progress :) They list Chrysler and Raytheon as official sponsors, though there is comparatively less clear information available on the specifics.

Omega Envoy

A student-formed and -run team,  Floridians Omega Envoy have racked up some notable progress and partners of their own. They tested a prototype of their rover, SAGAN (which is on Twitter), last year at the Mars Society‘s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station, and their partners include the 4Frontiers Corp. and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.


FREDNET, while being technically international, is an Open Source effort with its roots in the US. (Its founder, Fred J. Bourgeois, III, had his hometown of Waveland, Mississippi wiped out by Hurricane Katrina). Dedicated to transparency and interactivity (with their own forums, live video stream, wiki, and more), FREDNET’s had both public as and powerhouse participation—the latter including the likes of David Masten of Masten Space Systems, among others.

As FREDNET themselves put it, once you join their wiki, you officially join the team. Hit their forums and wiki for more on how their interesting (and cool) structure works.


Coloradoans Micro-Space have been in the industry a long time: 31 years! While further details are currently sparse (their official site is definitely on the old-fashioned side), their team page remains active with plenty of blog posts.

White Label Space

While largely international, White Label Space‘s unique style—starting as a brandless team, open for sponsors and their messages across the board–and partial American roots give them enough American flavor to make it on here :) It should be exciting to see what kind of sponsors White Label Space can attract to their name, especially with the newfound emphasis of American space on all things commercial and private.

Other, Largely Inactive/Non-public Teams : Chandah, Stellar (No updates since March 2009). Drop me a line if you have updates, and I’ll update the post above with the new info :)



1. Odyssey Moon - February 25, 2010

The article omits Odyssey Moon, the first registered team of the GLXP, which has a partnership with NASA for lunar lander development through it’s US affiliate Odyssey Moon Ventures LLC, headed by fiormer Kemnedy Space Center director Jay Honeycutt.

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