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Moon race: final five teams will compete for Google's Lunar XPrize


If you haven't heard, the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition has pitted five worldwide companies against each other in hopes of spurring a space race that will yield some positive business endeavors.

SpaceIL (Israel), a non-profit organization, has secured a position on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the assistance of Seattle-based Spaceflight.

Moon Express is more business minded.

Earlier, TeamIndus announced that it had signed an official launch contract with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in December, previous year to send the rover to the lunar surface. Similarly, Florida's Moon Express will launch its probe from a startup Rocket Lab, which is now working on a tiny rocket called Electron.

Moon Express secured an approval from the USA government two months after SpaceIL. However, all 16 teams have shared the $1m Diversity Prize. Thornton said the company still intends to land on the moon and establish itself as a lunar delivery service. To make it to this final stage, each team had to find someone to take them, signing a launch contract by end of 2016.

Team Indus' lander will now carry the Japanese team's rover to the Moon as well. Not only do the spacecraft need to land on the Moon intact, but the vehicles also need to travel at least 500 meters on the lunar surface.

Since the contest was announced in 2007, interest in the Google Lunar XPrize has been high, with 33 teams originally signing up to compete for the US$20 million first prize.

Synergy Moon (International) will turn to one of its team members, Interorbital Systems, to launch its lunar lander and rover using a Neptune 8 rocket.

The original 2012 deadline for the Google Lunar XPrize has been extended three times, but contest organizers said they will stand by the current timeline which requires teams to launch on or before December 31. The team, per The Verge, is sending a four-wheeled rover to the moon through Team Indus' PSLV.

The Lunar X Prize is an global inducement prize space contest Google sponsored to challenge innovation in space exploration.

Second place is worth US$5 million and bonus money is available for accomplishing extra tasks, such as visiting an Apollo landing site or finding water on the moon. "Each of these teams has pushed the boundaries to demonstrate that you don't have to be a government superpower to send a mission to the Moon, while inspiring audiences to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics", Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of the Google Lunar X Prize, said in a statement.

Five finalists will try to land a spacecraft on the Moon this year to win the Google Lunar X Prize

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