Inc. is bankrolling a $30 million prize to the first private company
that can safely land a robotic rover on the moon and beam back a
gigabyte of images and video to Earth, the company said Thursday.
If the competition produces a winner, it would prove a
major boon to the emerging private spaceflight industry and mark the
first time a nongovernment entity has flown a lunar space probe.
Google partnered with the X Prize Foundation for the
moon challenge, which is open to companies around the world. The Santa
Monica-based nonprofit prize institute is best known for hosting the
Ansari X Prize contest that led to the first manned private spaceflight
The race to the moon won’t be easy or cheap. Teams
have to raise money to build a roaming spacecraft that will be tough
enough to survive a landing and have the smarts to complete a set of
tasks. Each rover also must be equipped with high-definition video and
still cameras to document the journey.