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Moon is once again an object of desire, courtesy tech giant Google, which under its aptly named Lunar XPRIZE competition is trying to inspire and challenge innovators, engineers, and entrepreneurs world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The thing that makes the competition all the more lucrative is the $20 million prize amount that the winner will walk away with.

The latest contender which is almost very close to winning the Lunar XPRIZE is Team HAKUTO, a product of Japan-based startup ispace Inc. The startup has just obtained a launch vehicle to fulfil its plans to send to the Moon late next year.

Extending a helping hand to HAKUTO is India-based Team Indus, which already has a contract in its kitty for launching its own rover, aboard a rocket developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), in December next year. The two, Team HAKUTO and Team Indus, have entered into a partnership for the same.

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Industry experts claim that for Team HAKUTO, whose much famous rideshare with team Astrobiotic recently went kaput, this partnership with Team Indus came at just the right time to secure itself a launch vehicle so as to be able to stay in competition for the X-Prize which closes by the end of this year.

Also famous as “NASCAR on the Moon,” Lunar X-Prize’s first position will go to the first private company that is successfully able to make a landing on the Moon, do a 500 meters (1,640 feet) -dash, and then is able to send high-definition photos and video back to planet Earth. While the first position gets $20 million, the second position gets $5 million. In order to win either of the prizes, the teams must be able to prove that 90% of their mission costs were funded by private sources. In addition to this, there is a separate $5 million prize money to be given as a bonus. This will be available to teams that are successful in meeting several “bonus” challenges, which includes making a trip to the Apollo sites, and discovering water ice.

It is interesting to note that the news about Team Hakuto competing for the Lunar X-Prize comes just a few days after PT Scientists, a German team, announced that it has been successful in securing a ride to the Moon for next year. Other contenders in contention for one of the biggest competition on Earth includes American company Moon Express and Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL.

The door is soon closing for the rest of the 16 teams of the Lunar X-Prize to book themselves tickets to orbit. Let’s wait and watch who all make the cut.

[Top Image: japantimes.co.jp]

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