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Google is now planning to reach Space

The search engine giant Google recently announced a 30 million dollar prize for a team that manages to send an unmanned buggy to the moon and beam back one gigabyte of images and video. The two Google partners announced this new prize, dubbed the Lunar X-PRIZE, at Wired's fourth annual NextFest conference in Los Angeles. The X Prize Foundation will run the moon challenge, which is open to companies worldwide. The nonprofit institute, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is best known for hosting the Ansari X Prize contest, which led to the first manned private spaceflight in 2004.

A company or organisation that accomplishes the feat by the end of year 2012 would receive $20 million. If there were no winner, the purse would drop to $15 million until the end of 2014, when the offer expires. There is also a $5 million second-place prize and $5 million in bonus money for teams that go beyond the minimum requirements. So all this adds up to $30 million.

The competition comes at a time of revived interest in lunar exploration. Japan's space agency plans to launch its long-delayed orbiter from a Pacific island today. NASA plans next year to send probes to orbit and crash into the moon, the first of several lunar robotic projects before astronauts are sent to the moon in the next decade.

Way to go Google...

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