This is Andy:
On earth, Andy took test drives at a cement plant before heading for the moon.
With no one winning the $20 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, Andy never got there. Having begun in 2007, the race ended during 2018 (after a four-year extension). The winner’s rover had to land on the moon, travel almost one-third of a mile, and then send images back to earth.
For each of the five teams, we just need to say DNF (Did Not Finish).
2007-2018 Google Lunar XPRIZE
Trying to land a robotic device on the moon, the teams were from the U.S. (Moon Express), Japan (Team Hakuto), India (Team Indus), Israel (SpaceIL), and an International Group (Synergy Moon). However, meeting milestones, some of the teams got millions of dollars of contest money. With Japan’s team raising more than $90 million, other participants also were privately funded.
Rather like Instacart, the U.S. needs a delivery service to the moon. Repeating the private competition approach, the U.S. space agency, NASA, is deciding which moon lander to use. Currently, there are five with all having expected to take off this year. Somewhat like the Google competition, after a 239,000 trip, with NASA devices onboard, the vehicle has to soft land successfully.
Just this week, Astrobotic’s Peregrine was the first attempt. Unable to land on the moon because of a propellant leak just after liftoff, still, the flight lasted approximately 10 days and then burned up in the earth’s atmosphere. This description of the initial euphoria and subsequent catastrophe is captivating. It was daunting to hear about the mind-blowing complex systems that they figured out:
Our Bottom Line: A Mixed Economy
As economists, we can recall that the market, command, and tradition are the three basics kinds of economic systems. With the market, we have “instructions” traveling from the bottom-up. Created by supply and demand, those “instructions” determine what is produced, how it is produccd, and who gets the income. By contrast, command systems function from the top down.
Because the moon race combines government and private companies, it will benefit from what we hope are the strengths of the market and command in a mixed economic system.
My sources and more: Thanks to this WSJ article for jumpstarting my look at private moon landings. For starters, this Smithsonian Magazine article had everything about the Google XPrize while space.com told us about another current competition. Then, with the need for daily updates, this article describes this week’s Japanese moon landing. And here, Astrobotic describes its moon mission while NBC details its unsuccessful launch this week.