The $30 million private race to the moon just got its finish line pushed back. The group that organized the competition, XPRIZE, announced Tuesday that the deadline for the Google Lunar X Prize is being extended by a year, to the end of 2016. That means the teams from around the world competing for the $20 million grand prize have an additional year to land a spacecraft safely on the moon. At least one team must provide documentation for a scheduled launch by Dec. 31, 2015, for all teams to move forward in the competition.
"We know the mission we are asking teams to accomplish is extremely difficult and unprecedented, not only from a technological standpoint, but also in terms of the financial considerations," Robert Weiss, vice chairman and president of XPRIZE, said in a statement. "It is for this reason that we have decided to extend the competition timeline. We firmly believe that a whole new economy around low-cost access to the moon will be the result of the Google Lunar X Prize."
The Google Lunar X Prize competition is sponsored by Google. The top prize will go to the first team that can develop and successfully land a robot on the moon’s surface, travel at least 500 meters (1,640 feet) and then transmit images and other data back to Earth. Eighteen teams are competing, though no more than a handful are expected to be serious contenders.
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