Fwd: German team Part-Time-Scientists enters $30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition

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Bryan Bishop

Jun 24, 2009, 9:01:51 AM6/24/09
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From: X PRIZE Foundation <nor...@xprize.org>
Date: Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 7:04 AM
To: kan...@gmail.com

Sebastian Rattay


Berlin, Germany (June 24, 2009) – Today, Team Part-Time-Scientists
announced its official entry into the Google Lunar X PRIZE
competition, marking Germany’s debut in this new race to the Moon. The
team joins the $30 million contest that challenges space professionals
and engineers from across the globe to build and launch a privately
funded spacecraft to the Moon. The spacecraft must complete a series
of exploration and transmission tasks as outlined in the competition’s
official rules. Team Part-Time-Scientists, headquartered in Berlin,
Germany has seven team members and is among 19 teams from 42 countries
that are competing for their share of the multi-million dollar prize

The Part-Time-Scientists are not only the first German team to join
the competition but also one of the youngest as the vast majority of
team members are in the 20’s. In addition, this is the first team made
up entirely of non-space professionals. The seven members are
scattered across northern Germany and welcome everyone who wants to
join their efforts.

Team leader Robert Boehme: "We want to prove to the world that the
labor of a few dedicated, hard working people is equivalent with that
of a 100 rocket scientists. We believe the future of humans is among
the stars. For that to happen, we have to get humans out of low earth
orbit again. One doesn't have to be in a space agency to fly into
space. Thanks to the X PRIZE Foundation, private companies have built
vehicles that can travel beyond the edge of our atmosphere. Going to
the Moon, even if it's just a man made robot, is the next logical step
for private space exploration.”

Boehme continues, “I take great pride in the fact that we really are
private individuals who are trying to accomplish this goal. Among the
Part-Time-Scientists team, we have two physicists, two IT
Professionals, two Software Developers and one Hardware Specialist. I
certainly hope more people will join us over time. The knowledge for
lunar exploration has been around for more than 30 years. How hard can
it be? In addition to sending a rover to the Moon, we also know that
each team will need to communicate with their respective rovers. Right
now, there are only a few ways to accomplish that task, each method
requiring the involvement of a government space agency. Once our own
rover is ready to begin its journey to the Moon, we aim to have our
own means of earth/Moon communication in place, not only for us, but
for everyone else to use in future missions. "

The Part-Time-Scientists are a non-profit organization that is
financed by donations, their own capital and sponsors including
leading companies like Texas Instruments (electronics and semi
conductors)and O'Reilly Media (computer book publisher).

"We're extremely excited to welcome our first Germany-based team into
the Google Lunar X PRIZE,” said Will Pomerantz, Senior Director, Space
Prizes, The X PRIZE Foundation. “Robert and the Part-Time-Scientists
team bring an incredible amount of energy and excitement to the
competition, the same kind of youth and passion that was seen among
the engineers, scientists, and technicians who made up the
Apollo program. By building their foundation upon the core principles
that have lead to world-wide success stories like Linux, the team will
be pursuing a management and organization style that was unheard of in
the space industry until quite recently, but has the potential to
generate excellent results."

For more information about team The Part-Time-Scientists, please visit
www.part-time-scientists.com. High resolution photographs, video and
other team materials are available upon request.

The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE is an unprecedented international
competition that challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs
from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space
exploration. The $30 million prize purse is segmented into a $20
million Grand Prize, a $5 million Second Prize and $5 million in bonus
prizes. To win the Grand Prize, a team must successfully soft land a
privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, rove on the lunar surface for
a minimum of 500 meters, and transmit a specific set of video, images
and data back to the Earth. The Grand Prize is $20 million until
December 31st 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15 million until
December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated
unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation. For more
information about the Google Lunar X PRIZE, please visit

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute
whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of
humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured the world’s attention when
the Burt Rutan-led team, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen,
built and flew the world’s first private spaceship to win the $10
million Ansari X PRIZE for suborbital spaceflight.  The Foundation has
since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30
million Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $10 million Progressive Insurance
Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation, with the support of its partner,
BT Global Services, is creating prizes in Space and Ocean Exploration,
Life Sciences, Energy and Environment, Education and Global
Development.  The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model
for fostering innovation through competition.  For more information,
please visit www.xprize.org.


- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

Paul D. Fernhout

Jun 24, 2009, 11:16:39 AM6/24/09
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Bryan Bishop wrote:
> The Part-Time-Scientists are a non-profit organization that is
> financed by donations, their own capital and sponsors including
> leading companies like Texas Instruments (electronics and semi
> conductors)and O'Reilly Media (computer book publisher).

So, they are competing based on charity, advertising, and personal
investmests equivalent to buying a lottery ticket.

If it works, great, but with a multi-trillion dollar global R&D budget,
can't we invest in humanity's "Option for Success" (Bucky Fuller) in another
Prizes have been proposed as a much better solution than grants, and it’s
not hard to see why: With a prize, the donor does not have to try to predict
in advance who can achieve the proposed goal, nor how it will be achieved.
Likewise, applicants don’t have to prove anything to the donor about their
past performance—they just have to step up to the task at hand and do it.
That means there’s no “artificial” barrier to entry. The success of the
Ansari X-Prize, recently won by Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites with Space
Ship One is a good example of how well prizes can work.[10, 11]
With a prize, the donor does not have to try to predict in advance who
can achieve the proposed goal
Except for one problem, of course: money. Winning prizes is usually only
an option for people already rich enough to fund their own research. Prizes
do not provide money when it is most needed—during the development process,
so they do little for people with ideas but no money. True, you can look for
investors, but you still have to convince them in advance that you can do
the job. It’s no coincidence that so many entrepreneurs started out in
It’s also instructive to note some less-appealing details of the X-prize
competition: once Space Ship One emerged as the clear leader, some
competitors began to slack off, because there was no second place to strive
for. Prizes fundamentally encourage competition and discourage cooperation,
and they have all the benefits and dangers of competition as a result. In a
field where effective cooperation seems to be essential to produce real
quality, they can be seriously detrimental, as can be seen by the problems
encountered by both Source Exchange and Co-Source—the two “reverse auction”
funding sites Raymond mentions in “The Magic Cauldron”, which are now long dead.

--Paul Fernhout

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