Two of Google's Lunar X Prize projects have officially booked a ride to the moon

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Dec 21, 2016, 3:10 PM EST (Updated)

The private space industry is helping lead the charge to the stars, and two leading projects from Google’s Lunar X contest have officially booked a ride to the moon.

The Verge reports the Japanese HAKUTO team will be teaming up with the Indian group Team Idmus to carry their rovers together on a PSLV rocket, developed by the Indian Space Research Organization. The HAKUTO rover will also hitch a ride on the lander being developed by Team Idmus. Yes, the Lunar X Prize is still a competition, but when we get cool stuff to the moon all of humanity wins. So, yay for teamwork.

“We’re proud to verify HAKUTO’s launch agreement and are pleased to see two Google Lunar X Prize teams collaborating on this mission to the Moon,” Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, a senior director at Google Lunar X Prize, said in a statement. “The purpose of this prize was, in part, to foster collaboration in the private sector and this is a great demonstration of teams coming together in the next giant leap in space exploration.”

Google’s Lunar X Prize competition was created to encourage private missions to the moon. To win, a potential team has to send a lander, move it 1,640 feet, and send back high-res pics and video. The first team to pull off that feat will $20 million. The second team to do it scores $5 million.

The tricky part? To move to the next phase of the contest, teams have to book a flight to the moon by the end of 2016. That’s what makes this agreement in late December so important, and puts these two teams among just a handful still in the running to sit down on the moon by the end of 2017. As everyone races toward the $20 million prize, this contest certainly looks to heat up over the next several months.

(Via The Verge)