The Google Lunar X Prize, unveiled last September, aims to encourage privately funded lunar exploration — just as the $10 million Ansari X Prize provided a jump start for space tourism three years ago. Private-sector moonshots could open the way to commercial ventures ranging from robotic mining operations to lunar hotels and virtual reality-TV expeditions. The competition offers a multimillion-dollar prize for the first team to send an unmanned rover safely to the moon, and then get it to beam imagery and data back to Earth. The nine new teams join the Isle of Man-based Odyssey Moon team, which was the first group to take up the challenge.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin said that he was amazed that so many competitors had signed up so soon after the prize's announcement. Brin credited Google's participation to conversation he had had with Diamandis and mutual friend and Silicon Valley entrepreneur-turned-rocket builder, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX. Google has always been either a pioneer or a supporter of new discoveries, and couldn't be left behind this time! Everything it does, has to be big, just like sponsoring this competition.
The Google Lunar X Prize organizers also announced their partnership with Space Florida, a group vested in drawing the Sunshine State onto the commercial spaceflight map. Voted into creation in 2006, the local organization is offering launch site services and $2 million in extra prize money to the winning team if they blast off from Florida, which would obviously add to the state's rich spaceflight history, and continue their moon-exploration activities.
As I said, several companies have already signed up. Visit the official website for more information. This gig has me really excited! Looks like Space Travel is not as far into the future as we imagined it to be!!
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