WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) — NASA has signed contracts with U.S. six teams competing to design, build and launch private moon probes to purchase their lunar data, agency officials say.
The six teams are competing in the Google Lunar X Prize contest to send low-cost missions to the lunar surface, SPACE.com reported.
“The dollar values may be a relatively small contract by NASA standards, but these contracts send a clear signal to the investment community that NASA is ready to purchase lunar data, even from small, entrepreneurial firms,” said William Pomerantz, senior director for space prizes at the X Prize Foundation.
A $30 million prize purse is up for grabs in the Google competition as teams vie to land a robot on the lunar surface, have it travel at least 1,650 feet across the lunar surface, and transmit its data and images back to Earth.
The first team to accomplish that feat by Dec. 31, 2012, will claim $20 million, with $10 million going to second place, SPACE.com reported.
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