J.J. Abrams, best known as the co-creator of the TV series “Lost” and director of recent “Star Trek” movies as well as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” is now bringing his love for space exploration to a new documentary series called “Moon Shot” on YouTube. The series will feature teams competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million competition that challenges participants to design and build a rover, land it on the moon and drive it 500 meters across the lunar landscape, as well as send HD video and imagery back to Earth in the process.
The competition, which has been underway since 2007, is designed to encourage new ideas in space exploration by asking teams to come up with low-cost and efficient ways to build technology that overcomes technical risk across a number of areas, including landing, mobility and imagery.
There are now 16 private teams competing for this XPRIZE around the world, ranging from Silicon Valley tech experts to hackers in Germany to IT specialists in India to a father and son team working out of their Vancouver apartments, says Google in an announcement about the series.
Abrams exec produced “Moon Shot,” but the film was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel. The director’s earlier documentary “Virunga” told the story of those fighting to protect Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was nominated for an Academy Award.
In nine digital documentaries, “Moon Shot” will go behind the scenes with the various teams building their lunar rovers to showcase the challenges involved in this sort of competition, while also revealing the more human side to this science and technology story — namely, why they’ve decided to focus their talent and energies on making the 238,900 mile journey to the moon.
The series will debut on Google Play on March 15, then on YouTube on March 17 on the Google Lunar XPRIZE YouTube Channel, where it will be available for free viewing. Given the high-profile talent Google attracted to get this film made, it will likely be a series that’s worth watching.