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Google offers $20M for first private mission to moon

Google is funding the Lunar X Prize, a competition that will award $20 million to the first team that lands a private unmanned spacecraft on the moon, and then broadcasts a high-definition video back to earth. Additionally, it will award two other $5 million prizes for lesser missions.

Watch the video above (RSS readers click here), where Google explains how one day the moon’s silicon soil could be used to create large solar satellites, which in turn can be used to provide electricity to earth. Each satellite would have enough power a run an entire city. Other moon resources would provide rocket fuel, to propel us to new worlds.

While the award most likely won’t cover the costs of any such mission, companies getting to the moon can commercialize the technology they developed. The deadline for winning the $20 million Lunar X Prize is Dec. 31, 2012. If no one makes itb by that date, it will drop to $15 million, until Dec. 31, 2014. See official X Prize site here, and the blog post by Google here.

Elon Musk, a founder of PayPal, has been working on a project to shuttle things to space through his company Space Exploration Technologies, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is developing a way to take humans to space with his project called Blue Origin (see coverage, scroll down).

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