After over 10 years and multiple deadline extensions, it is hoped that this is the final elay for what has undeniably been an ambitious competition to get the first privately funded spacecraft onto the Moon.
The competition initially began with a rather straightforward brief – fly a spacecraft to the Moon, land, travel 500 m (1,640 ft) and transmit HD video back. The first entity to achieve those milestones would snatch a prize of US$20 million. As the years progressed, the creators of the challenge recognized the degree of difficulty of what they were asking and added several million dollars in developmental milestone awards.
In January the competition was whittled down to five serious contenders, who all secured launch contracts to take off sometime in 2017. Up to now the competition has stipulated that each mission must be launched by December 31, 2017.