First announced in 2007, the $30 million Google Lunar Xprize, sometimes referred to as Moon 2.0, is a project from Xprize, an initiative launched in 1995 to help solve “the world’s Grand Challenges” through incentive-based prizes.
During a press conference in Jerusalem today, Israel-based SpaceIL revealed it had secured a “ticket to the moon” on a spacecraft that is expected to launch in late 2017. If successful, this would make SpaceIL not only the first Israeli organization to land an aircraft on the moon, but the first anywhere to launch a privately funded mission.
The SpaceIL team will build their own capsule which will use a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher to shoot into space, before separating and making its own way to the moon.
While SpaceIL is the first of the Lunar Xprize contestants to win a “verified launch contract,” there may be more. The competition remains open to 15 other Google Lunar Xprize participants from around the world, who have until the end of 2016 to win their own contracts. However, all missions must be complete by the end of 2017, which doesn’t leave an awful lot of time.
— Google Lunar XPRIZE (@glxp) October 6, 2015