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A real race to to the moon is scheduled for 2017
It feels like ages since the last good space race, but don’t worry, the next one is just around the corner. It’s a race to the moon scheduled for 2017, and companies around the world will be funding their own missions.
The winner will not only become the first ever privately-funded moon mission, but they’ll also be awarded the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize.
What’s the Google Lunar-X Prize? It’s a competition aiming to incentivize space entrepreneurs to create a new era of affordable space travel. It was first set up with a $20 million prize fund and a 2012 deadline, but things slipped a bit. The deadline was moved to 2014, and they slipped again, but now a final deadline has been set for 2017 with the increased $30 million incentive.
Nearly a decade after the challenge was set, two companies have been granted a launch contract to get to the moon in 2017. Effectively, that means that the space race is on.
First there was Space IL, an Israeli nonprofit that is planning to hitch a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. It’s the same rocket that has already undergone 18 successful test launches – although it’s last one ended in failure.
It’s main competition will be Moon Express, funded by a Silicon Valley company that wants to mine the moon for its precious resources. It will be using a rocket that uses a new kind of electric engine, developed by a company called Rocket Lab. What could go wrong?
Around 14 other teams from around the globe are also still in the running, although the lunar dash is likely to between these two main contenders. May the best rocket win.