This Year’s Muslim Representation at the Google Lunar XPRIZE

Google Lunar X-Prize has recently resurfaced and made headlines after being announced at Wired Nexfest in 2007. The competition has extended its deadline for the third time after extending it to 2012, 2015 and now to 2017 from the original deadline of 2010. Since the beginning of registration, there have been 8,000 privately funded teams from all over the world competing for the prize of USD30 million, in which the winning team will gain USD20 million.

The competition is heating up now as it is down to 16 teams in the running to be the first to successfully place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface’. Their rovers need to travel 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to earth and the methods of exploration are encouraged to be low-cost.

Why the moon and what are the obstacles?

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To date, there have been only 3 countries that have had sent their rovers to the moon and it costed a fortune. The first being the Soviet Lunokhod 1 and 2, second is the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle from the United States and the third is the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) from China. All of the rovers were government funded projects with costs starting from USD180 million and more. There is so much more to discover about our closest neighbor, the moon, and it can act as a base for training, experience and discovery for many different fields other than science. The latest finding is the lava tubes that could potentially shield humans from a harsh environment. To name some of the challenges that might break the spirit of the team back on Earth are that the rovers have to survive the extreme temperature swings of the moon and stability of rovers on the slopes. Now, the team is required to have their rovers travel 500 meters. If it fails, the team is no longer in the running for the grand prize.

GLXP, South East Asians, Malaysians, and Muslims: What’s the relation?

Among the 16 teams competing, there is only one team that has all the three criteria. The team of Independent – X – Aerospace (IDXA), the only one hailing from South East Asian region – Malaysia! If triumphant, IDXA would make this region proud as they will be the first team to place a privately funded, cost effective rover on the moon. This is history in the making!

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As for Muslims, the founder of IDXA and their team leader, Mohd Izmir Yamin is a highly accomplished man. Starting with dreams about space when he was little, he has worked his way up since then. Izmir graduated from Universiti Teknologi Mara Malaysia with a degree in Mechanical Engineering; Aerospace Engineering diploma and Business Administration from Illinois Institute of Technology. A throwback to university years, in 2014: he and his teammates found an efficient way to make a cheap rocket fuel and soon launched Independence 1 at only RM230 (USD55).

After a series of innovations they entered a competition and won a gold medal in a Science Innovation Competition and later they were victorious among the USA, Japan, and Russia in a competition in Europe. In the same year, he was a nominee for World Technology Award under Space Category (Individual) next to big names such as Elon Musk (Co-founder of Tesla Motors). Izmir has a familiarity in coordinating Fuel Cell Technology for UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)/Ground Vehicle and CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) which he acquired when he was a Technical Director in a company called Envirio Technologies in Malaysia.

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Be a team player!Izmir has been a speaker at TedxBudapest in 2014, giving inspirational talks on how to achieve something great in life. He said there are million of ways to be great, but everyone is unique and the method that works for you is yours specificaly. He quoted Stephen Colby, “Begin with an end in mind”. He subtly suggests that goals should be dissected into smaller pieces so it is easier to achieve them one at a time. IDXA aims to accomplish GLPX mission in Q4 of 2017 and for Izmir a personal goal is to experience and appreciate God Almighty’s creation through the eyes of Space Flight and Inventions.

If you are from SEA or other regions, there is a chance for you to be a part of the team! Yes, you read that right. IDXA is giving options for how the public can help, like on Kickstarter. Another option is even better and does not involve money at all. Go to their website here to know more about it, The Moon Men Project and follow their stories on FBAnd if you are from other parts of the world and your country is competing, the teams are listed in the GLXP page. Find out how you can help! Let us all be a part of this exciting 21st century space exploration. Imagine being able to tell people that you were part of the exploration of the moon. Now that’s what I call a conversation starter!

This article iswritten by Nur Zalikha Razali

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