At almost the last minute, Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh company that is trying to develop a lunar transportation business, has withdrawn from the Google Lunar X Prize competition. The company’s chief executive, John Thornton, made the announcement in the pages of Space News, noting that it was not able to secure a launch contract in time to meet the end of 2016 deadline. The X Prize will award $30 million to the first private firm to land a robotic probe on the moon, move it 500 meters, and return hires images and video.

Astrobotic remains upbeat about performing a lunar mission by 2019. It has ten signed payload contracts, 100 other potential customers, and first class business partners including Airbus Defense and Space, NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne. Astrobotic has already won $1.75 million in milestone prizes from the Google Lunar X Prize competition, proving its technical expertise.

Thornton took the opportunity of the withdraw of Astrobotic from the X Prize to throw a little shade on some of his company’s former competitors.

“Some teams are promising to launch next year without having cut an ounce of metal. Some have pledged to fly on brand new launch vehicles that haven’t even flown yet. Others are hanging their hat on headline-grabbing policy announcements to suggest big progress is being made toward a mission. Still others are hastily assembling their spacecraft and hoping for the best.”

Two of those teams, Team Hakuto from Japan and Team AngelicvM from Chile, had been relying on a shared ride with Astrobotic for their chances to get to the moon.

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Hakuto has already signed a deal with Team Indus to share its launch on the Indian PSLV rocket. Other X Prize teams that have secured launch contracts include Moon Express, SpaceIl, and Synergy Moon. Part Time Scientists, a team from Germany, have announced that it has a launch contract as well, but the X Prize Foundation has not certified and confirmed this yet.

The Google Lunar X Prize was envisioned to help create a commercial lunar industry.

Moon Express and iSpace, the business unit of Team Hakuto, are already developing lunar transportation and lunar mining businesses. In the meantime, a number of national space agencies are expressing an interest in returning to the moon. NASA, which had been forced to scrap a lunar program by President Barack Obama, will likely refocus its deep space exploration efforts on Earth’s nearest neighbor with the election of Donald Trump.

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