(Sen)- Galactic Suite, a Spanish based private space company, has signed a launch agreement with the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) to launch its robotic Moon vehicle atop a Chinese rocket in June 2014.
Galactic Suite is leading the Barcelona Moon Team in an endeavour to reach the Moon as part of an attempt to win the $20 million Google Lunar X PRIZE. First prize of $20 million will be awarded to the first company to land a robotic rover on the Moon, travel 500 metres and transmit video, images and data back to Earth.
A meeting was held in Paris to sign the contract that will see CGWIC launch the Spanish team’s lunar lander. The president of CGWIC Yin Liming met with Xavier Claramunt, president of Galactic Suite and the leader of the Barcelona Moon Team in Paris to finalise the contract. The contract states that CGWIC will use their Long March 2C launcher with an upper stage CTS2 in order to see the Spanish probe safely into lunar orbit. The Spanish lander module will be carried by the launcher which will decelerate until it reaches the surface of the Moon.
"Through this launch service contract, Barcelona Moon Team consolidates itself at the head of the teams participating in the competition," says Claramunt, "since securing the launcher is half the importance of the mission."
The launch is being scheduled for June 2014 - a similar time frame to that of Moon Express which also plans to land its robotic rover in 2014.
Further prizes will be awarded as part of the Google Lunar X PRIZE. The second team to meet the objectives outlined for lunar exploration will receive $5 million and the remaining $5m prize money will be made available to teams that go beyond the basic requirements – such as travelling five kilometres (three miles), capturing images of relics of the Apollo programme, verifying the presence of water, or surviving a lunar night. But there is a time limit. Whoever makes it to the Moon must do so by the end of 2015 when the prize fund expires.
A Long March 2C rocket like the one to be used for the launch of the Barcalona Moon Team's robot.
"Considering that the investment required to achieve the mission is provided by private companies through sponsorship, the award will also be divided between the sponsors," said Claramunt.
The Barcelona Moon Team, one of 25 teams still competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, has designed their mission to carry an additional 25 kilograms of weight other than the lunar rover. This extra payload is offered to other institutions such as universities and national agencies.
The Barcelona Moon Team has to design their mission so that no sensitive American components will be launched by the Chinese launcher, in agreement with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). This regulation stops some American companies participating in international markets, which creates opportunities for other companies to develop alternative technologies.