A mystery team entered in a race to win a $30 million contest for landing a privately built spacecraft on the moon revealed its identity today.

Next Giant Leap, a small company that was the fifth team to register for the Google Lunar X Prize, publicly announced its name and team members at a press conference today at the NASA Ames Research Center. 

The U.S.-based team has members from the academic, aerospace and small business communities.  NGL was founded by entrepreneur Michael Joyce in November of 2007, the team was known only as the "Mystery Team" for the first year. 

"Our first year was well spent, recruiting the best possible team members and building the strong working relationships required to reach our goals," Joyce said today in a statement.  "With the world class team we have assembled we are ready to take the next giant leap forward required to win the Google X Prize and establish NGL as commercial lunar services company."

Yesterday, two other teams joined the race.

"We are delighted to have them go public as we believe they will be a strong contender with experienced participants, a strong academic partner and several innovative, small space companies," said Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation.

NGL's team includes:

  • Lead systems integrator is MicroSat Systems, Inc., known for its innovation in small spacecraft.
  • In charge of landing safely on the moon is the Draper Laboratory, involved in space guidance navigation and control since the earliest days of the space program supporting Apollo, the space shuttle and the International Space Station. 
  • The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a key academic partner.  The MIT team includes five-time shuttle astronaut Jeff Hoffman and Professor David Miller, head of MIT's Space Systems Laboratory.
  • Aurora Flight Sciences, a company that operates on the frontiers of flight with specialties in unmanned aerial vehicles and manned space hardware.
  • Busek Co. Inc., which specializes in advanced space propulsion, especially electrical propulsion systems.

Founded in 2007, the Google Lunar X Prize competition is sponsored by Google and managed by the X Prize Foundation of Santa Monica, Calif. The foundation also spearheaded the $10 million Ansari X Prize for reusable suborbital manned spacecraft, won in 2004 by the SpaceShipOne vehicle developed by aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan and financed by millionaire Paul Allen, among other prizes.

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