September 13th, 2007 | 3 MIN READ

Google One Step Behind: Announcing the $30 Million SOLAR Challenge

Written by Jason Billingsley

In case you haven’t heard about Google’s Lunar Challenge, Google yesterday announced that it has teamed up with the X-Prize Foundation to offer $30 million in prizes to the first private company that can land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back one gigabyte of images: $20 million to the first-place team, $5 million to the second-place team (no explanation of how one comes in second!) and $5 million in bonuses to teams that go beyond the basics.

Now, we on the Elastic Path marketing team mean no disrespect to our friends at Google – after all, they’ve been pretty successful and their company is arguably even better known than our own – but we just aren’t that impressed with this competition.

You see, Elastic Path is all about innovation and this competition just doesn’t sound all that innovative. I mean, unless you’re one of those who still believe the U.S. faked everything in a Hollywood studio to irritate the Soviets, haven’t we already landed a spaceship on the moon? Moreover, didn’t that rocket transport actual people in addition to all the requisite wiring and electro-doodads? And didn’t those people come back safely with actual physical moon-stuff instead of just pictures; that’s how we figured out the moon isn’t really made of cheese. And to top it all off, didn’t all that happen about 40 years ago with technology and computing power inferior to today’s average dishwasher?!?!

Furthermore, even if you find this innovative, what good is going to come of it? Other than those delicious Moon Pies, there’s nothing useful up there! Elastic Path doesn’t pursue innovation for the sake of innovation – that just leads to undue complexity and “bloatware.” Our innovation is focused on delivering practical results.

So the best minds in our marketing department got to thinking, how can we do our part to spur genuine practical innovation? Well, Elastic Path is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, which, for all its celebrated beauty, is pretty cloudy and rainy for a significant part of the year. In addition to making the place kind of dreary, this really limits the value of solar energy. We figured, with a bit of thought, surely all that energy and activity in the 4-dimensional extra-terrestrial time-space continuum can help us out.

Tying all these threads together, we are pleased to announce the Elastic Path Solar Challenge. We are offering $30 million in prizes to the first team that successfully lands a manned spacecraft on the sun and brings the entire assembly back safely. Similar to Google’s, our prize consists of $20 million for meeting the basic requirements, plus $5 million for beaming back enough usable energy to run a margarita machine and an additional $5 million for bringing back and installing a chunk of thermonuclear matter to brighten up Kits Beach on a dreary February afternoon.

Finally, bear in mind that $30 million is a pretty significant sum for Elastic Path – unlike many companies, even our CEO doesn’t get that much. So, in the spirit of competition and fair play, all entries must endure the full force of the sun; spaceships sent up at night will be disqualified.

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