Spanish GLXP team pushes back launch to 2015

BCM rover

Barcelona Moon Team’s planned rover. (credit: BCM)

One of the few Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competitors that has an announced launch contract—one of the key milestones in demonstrating the ability to carry out the mission—has pushed back that planned launch until mid-2015.

Barcelona Moon Team announced Wednesday that it has reset the date of its launch attempt, using a Chinese Long March 2C rocket, to June 2015. The Spanish team said in a brief blog post that “the date has been shift [sic] to adjust to the new technical milestone calendar which came out of the latest core team meetings,” without providing additional details.

The announcement comes almost exactly a year after the team announced its contract with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC). At that time, they were targeting a June 2014 launch of their lunar lander and rover. Neither last year, nor in this week’s announcement, did the team disclose the value of the launch contract or how much the team has paid to CGWIC to date. Barcelona Moon Team has also been in discussions with CGWIC about using a Chinese propulsion system in the lander.

The team, in its blog posts, hasn’t disclosed many details about the development of its rover, beyond it being a four-wheel design with at least a minimal payload to comply with the GLXP requirements to send video and image “Mooncasts” after landing. Barcelona Moon Team is affiliated with Galactic Suite, a company that has announced plans to develop commercial space stations for space tourism but has appeared to make little concrete progress in recent years (in 2009, for example, the company claimed to be on schedule to start flying customers in 2012.)

However, Barcelona Moon Team does stand out as one of the few teams that has made launch arrangements, a key milestone for the teams competing for the GLXP. Astrobotic Technology has a contract with SpaceX for a Falcon 9 launch of its Polaris rover in 2015, and other teams have been investigating secondary payload accommodations. Given the usual lead time for launch contracts, though, such arrangements need to be in place in the relatively near future in order to launch before the prize expires at the end of 2015.

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