I Won $20 Million U.S. and All I have is a Massive Debt

Could a team win first prize and still end up in a financial deficit? It's quite possible. Teams may have to spend more money than they could possibly win in order to accomplish the competition's goals. That's not unusual, though. Even early aeronautical contests at the dawn of the age of flight saw teams spend significantly more money than they could earn from a clean win.

Team Qualifications

What does it take to compete for the Lunar X Prize? Google and the X Prize Foundation have outlined several qualifications teams must meet if they wish to win:

  • Teams must submit a letter of intent to Google. This is an official notice establishing the team's spot in the competition. Google and the X Prize Foundation will review each team's submission. Once Google finalizes the Master Team Agreement, each team will have to sign the agreement to participate in the competition. The Master Team Agreement will establish the final set of rules and guidelines all teams must follow.
  • While Google and the X Prize Foundation have yet to settle on the final registration fee, each team will have to pay a fee no greater than $10,000 in order to compete.
  • Each team must receive no less than 90 percent of its funding from private sources. In other words, teams can't apply for government grants or any other public funds that would exceed 10 percent of the team's overall budget.
  • In a related rule, governments can't participate directly in the competition. For example, Japan couldn't sponsor a team. This also means that government organizations like NASA can't enter the competition. Government employees can join a team as long as it doesn't relate directly to their governmental positions. In addition, teams can purchase goods and services from governments, provided that the governments in question make such opportunities available to all teams in the competition. Courtesy Google Google Lunar X Prize teams can't buy old space equipment to use in the challenge.
  • Teams won't be allowed to purchase unique "heritage" equipment. That means teams won't be allowed to browse aeronautical museums and purchase old space exploration equipment to repurpose for the competition.
  • Each team must consult with the competition's administrators six months before attempting a launch. The administrators will work with each team to determine a specific landing site on the moon. While teams can attempt to design a mission to take photos of historic moon landing sites, one of the rules of the competition requires such sites be preserved.
  • Teams can launch their respective vehicles from any launch facility. Each team must meet local, national and international laws and regulations regarding launching a vehicle into orbit. In the United States, this includes securing a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • Each team must share information about its processes and plans with the rest of the world. One of the goals of the competition is to increase knowledge and education about space exploration. It is the hope of the competition's administrators that the findings from this competition aid future space missions. Sharing information includes everything from blogging to publishing videos and schematics and attending public events.
  • Teams must agree to give Google and the X Prize Foundation merchandising rights, although the teams will receive a portion of the revenue generated from merchandise. This could include everything from T-shirts to toy models.

Once Google and the X Prize Foundation finalize the rules and the teams agree to them, the game is on. What does a team have to do to win the prize? Keep reading to find out.