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Lunar XPRIZE Finalist to Use Printed Parts for Moon Lander

At least one of the five finalists in Google’s modern space race may reach the surface of the Moon with some 3D-printed parts.

SpaceIL will use 3D-printed legs on its lunar lander. Image: SpaceIL

Google is offering $30 million in prize money to the first company that can get a new spacecraft to the Moon by this coming March as part of its Google Lunar XPRIZE initiative. The spacecraft not only has to successfully land on the Moon, but also has to travel 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.

Five teams are competing, including Israeli company SpaceIL, which plans to use 3D-printed legs on its unmanned lander. The legs will be provided by Zurich-based RUAG Space.

The company was initially reluctant to use 3D printing. “Space is very conservative,” said RUAG executive Franck Mouriaux at at an industry conference in Munich. “We need to convince people that this technology is real.”

RUAG has been working with Altair and German company EOS on 3D printing and lightweighting spacecraft and satellite components, including an antenna support arm.

Another former XPRIZE entrant, Canadian Team Plan B, had hoped to launch a system with that would enable its lander to 3D print objects on the surface of the moon using lunar surface dust.

Audi worked with a former contest participant, Part Time Scientists, to print parts for their proposed lander. Image: Audi

Another team that participated earlier in the competition, the Part Time Scientists, worked with Audi to 3D print parts of their own lunar lander out of aluminum.

In addition to SpaceIL, there are four other teams still in the race that have secured a contract to launch their spacecraft. They include Hakuto in Japan, TeamIndus (India), the international Team Synergy Moon 2.0, and U.S.-based Moon Express.

Source: Industry Week

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