Google Lunar XPRIZE deadline missed (for real this time)

A statement was released this week by the XPRIZE Foundation: No team will win the Google-financed purse. The original Google Lunar XPRIZE was first announced back in 2007, and 29 teams registered from the start. Here in early 2017, the number of teams still in the running numbered 5, but none of those finalists were prepared for a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the latest deadline.

The original contest deadline was inside the year 2014. The deadline was extended once, then again, eventually landing on March 31st of 2018. Here in January of this year, no team will reach their goal, and no distribution of prizes will occur. Peter Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, and Marcus Shingles, the foundation's CEO, released their statement on the subject on January 23rd via XPRIZE dot org.

"After close consultation with our five finalist Google Lunar XPRIZE teams over the past several months, we have concluded that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the Moon by the March 31st, 2018 deadline," wrote Diamandis and Shingles. "This literal "moonshot" is hard, and while we did expect a winner by now, due to the difficulties of fundraising, technical and regulatory challenges, the grand prize of the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed."

This does not mean that no prize money was distributed thus far. In fact the XPRIZE Foundation awarded "more than $6 million in prize money to teams" over the past year "in recognition of the milestones they have accomplished." The remaining portion of the Google-funded prize purse will simply remain wherever it came from – over at Google.

The folks at XPRIZE suggested this week that they have "a number of ways to proceed from here." One option is finding a new "title sponsor" to replace Google, making it... Frank's Vegetarian Burritos Lunar XPRIZE instead. That option has my vote.

They may also continue the Lunar XPRIZE competition "as a non-cash competition." If they did this, XPRIZE suggested they'd still "follow and promote the teams and help celebrate their achievements."

Meanwhile XPRIZE listed a bunch of accomplishments made by the competition or as a direct result of the existence of the competition. You'll be able to see these in the gallery above. Tap in and see what's up. And stick around while we check in on the teams on their way to the moon – if, now, they're still motivated to get there.

The timeline below chronicles some of the biggest highlights of the contest and the participants participating over the past year – have a peek!