Skip
Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

SXSW

There's Another Race To The Moon Underway—And J.J. Abrams Is Making It Personal

The docu-series Moon Shot, coproduced by Bad Robot, pulls out the personal stories behind the Google Lunar XPrize competition.

  • <p>Internet entrepreneur <strong>Naveen Jain</strong>, cofounder of the Cape Canaveral-based Google Lunar XPrize team, Moon Express, from the docu-series <em>Moon Shot</em></p>
  • <p><strong>Yariv Bash</strong>, cofounder of the Israel-based Google Lunar XPrize team, SpaceIL</p>
  • <p><strong>Robert Böhme</strong>, lead for the Berlin-based Google Lunar XPrize team, Part-Time Scientists</p>
  • <p>Rover from the Japan-based Google Lunar XPrize team, <strong>Hakuto</strong></p>
  • <p>Nine-year-old <strong>Jana González</strong>, from an all-girl team competing in Moonbots, a worldwide robotics competition for kids</p>
  • <p>Legendary roboticist and Carnegie Mellon professor <strong>Red Whittaker</strong>, cofounder of Google Lunar XPrize team Astrobotic</p>
  • <p><strong>Deepana Gandhi</strong>, from the Bangalore-based Google Lunar XPrize team, Team Indus</p>
  • <p>Sixteen teams from around the world are racing to win the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize in the docu-series <em>Moon Shot</em>.</p>
  • 01 /09

    Internet entrepreneur Naveen Jain, cofounder of the Cape Canaveral-based Google Lunar XPrize team, Moon Express, from the docu-series Moon Shot

  • 02 /09

    Yariv Bash, cofounder of the Israel-based Google Lunar XPrize team, SpaceIL

  • 03 /09

    Robert Böhme, lead for the Berlin-based Google Lunar XPrize team, Part-Time Scientists

  • 04 /09

    Rover from the Japan-based Google Lunar XPrize team, Hakuto

  • 05 /09

    Nine-year-old Jana González, from an all-girl team competing in Moonbots, a worldwide robotics competition for kids

  • 06 /09

    Legendary roboticist and Carnegie Mellon professor Red Whittaker, cofounder of Google Lunar XPrize team Astrobotic

  • 07 /09

    Deepana Gandhi, from the Bangalore-based Google Lunar XPrize team, Team Indus

  • 08 /09

    Sixteen teams from around the world are racing to win the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize in the docu-series Moon Shot.

  • 09 /09

Even though it’s the most accessible destination in our solar system, traveling to the moon is still a matter of advanced science and technology.

Since 2007, Google has been chipping away at the complexity, not to mention exorbitant cost, of moon exploration with the Lunar XPrize, a competition for privately funded space entrepreneurs to build a rover, land it on the moon, travel at least 500 meters, and transmit video and images.

The Lunar XPrize is meant to lower the barriers of not only space travel, but of the average person’s perception of space travel—and J.J. Abrams and Oscar-nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel are lending their talents to the effort with their nine-part docu-series, Moon Shot.

Moon Shot aims to infuse a little heart and humanity into the otherwise technical field of space exploration by profiling teams in the Lunar XPrize competition. Each episode pulls out the who and why and runs it all through Einsiedel's masterfully cinematic lens.

"There are a million ways to tell a story—these films could have been purely science- or technology-based or scholastic," says Andrew Lee, a producer at Bad Robot, Abrams’ production company that’s coproducing Moon Shot. "But our approach was more of a cinematic, human story."

Lee’s hope for Moon Shot is that it will stir up the kind of worldwide emotional fervor felt during the Space Race of the mid-20th century. Lunar XPrize’s $30 million purse for the winners is certainly one reason to throw a rover into the competition, but what Moon Shot highlights so well are stories that are grounded in the sense of doing something bigger than oneself.

"Once we delved deep, that’s when we started to learn about the human beings that are involved," Lee says. "And there’s nothing more relatable than hearing a human story that’s in the context of something so large."


EPISODE 1: Astrobotic (USA)


EPISODE 2: Part-Time Scientists (Germany)


EPISODE 3: Team Indus (India)


EPISODE 4: Team Plan B (Canada)


EPISODE 5: Hakuto (Japan)


EPISODE 6: Moon Express (USA)


EPISODE 7: SpaceIL (Israel)


EPISODE 8: Mecaliks (Mexico)


EPISODE 9: Race for the Prize

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Photos: courtesy of Google Lunar XPrize;

loading