Omega Envoy Partners with University of Central Florida for Google Lunar X Prize



The Omega Envoy Project is proud to announce a partnership with the University of Central Florida (UCF) to develop the only student‐led entry in a $30 million international competition, sponsored by Google, to land a robot on the moon.

“Our main goal from the beginning was to involve as many state universities as we could to unite Florida in this common goal,” said Jason Dunn, Omega Envoy’s Engineering and Space Concepts director. “With UCF officially on board we are one giant leap closer to the moon. “

The university will provide faculty members and senior design students, facilities in the UCF Research Park and other resources to assist in Omega Envoy’s lunar rover development program.

The end goal is to win Google’s $30 million Lunar X PRIZE which will be awarded to the first team to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth.

“Just a year ago we formed the Omega Envoy Project after realizing that no Florida team yet existed,” said Ruben Nunez, Omega Envoy Project Director. “This was surprising considering the wealth of skills that Central Florida has in the space industry.”

Earthrise Space, Inc. is a non‐profit organization that is founded by students and professionals at the University of Central Florida with the common goal of advancing private and commercial space exploration. While the current focus of Earthrise Space, Inc is the effort to win the Google Lunar X‐Prize by landing and operating a rover on the surface of the moon, Dunn said the primary goal is to maintain Florida’s position as a global leader in the aerospace industry.

In addition to the support of several key engineering faculty members, the UCF engineering team that developed the self-powered car that competed in the national finals of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Urban Challenge two years ago will help with design of the rover.

Also on board are members of UCF’s Systems Engineering Chapter, a UCF organization that specializes in project management. They will help with overall planning and execution of the project. Also senior design students from UCF, funded through a grant by the Florida Space Grant Consortium, will work on the rover’s sophisticated suspension system.

Some of these students were instrumental in designing the successful rover prototype that was sent on the 2009 Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station expedition to Devon Island in the Arctic Circle.

The Google competition rules stipulate that teams must be at least 90% privately funded and must be registered to compete by December 31, 2010. The first team to land on the Moon and complete the mission objectives will be awarded $20 million; the full first prize is available until December 31, 2012. After that date, the first prize will drop to $15 million. The second team to do so will be awarded $5 million. Another $5 million will awarded in bonus prizes.