The $30 million private race to the moon is about to hit computer and smartphone screens all over the world.
"Moon Shot," a new nine-part documetary Web series about the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) from executive producer J.J. Abrams and Oscar-nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel, will premiere for free on Google Play March 15 and on YouTube March 17. You can get a sense of what the series is all about in the newly released "Moon Shot" teaser trailer here.
Sixteen privately funded teams are currently competing in the GLXP, which will award $20 million to the first team to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon, have it travel at last 1,650 feet (500 meters) on the lunar surface, and beam high-resolution photos and videos home to Earth by the end of 2017. An additional $10 million is available for various other accomplishments, such as detecting water ice on the lunar surface.
The chief goals of the GLXP — which is the most lucrative prize competition of all time, according to contest organizers — are to encourage a new era of affordable deep-space exploration, and to inspire more young people to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering.
"Moon Shot" will give viewers insight into some of the GLXP teams — who comprises them, and what is pushing these people to shoot for the moon.
"This character-driven, emotional, awe-inspiring series of nine short films will follow a selection of the teams currently racing to complete their missions," GLXP representatives wrote in a description of "Moon Shot" that they provided to Space.com.
"It will explore the lives of their charismatic, quirky members, the sacrifices they have made to get to where they are today, and crucially, what drives them on this incredible journey," they added.
To date, two teams — California-based Moon Express and Israel's SpaceIL — have secured GLXP-verified launch contracts. Moon Express will fly aboard Rocket Lab USA's Electron vehicle, while SpaceIL signed a deal to use SpaceX's Falcon 9 launcher.
The other 14 GLXP teams must obtain a verified launch deal by Dec. 31, 2016, to remain in the competition.