Google Lunar X Prize organizers stated that they will stand by the current deadline which requires teams to launch their space crafts on or before December 31.
Getting to the Moon is hard, but it's considerably easier when you have a $20 million prize to motivate you. It will lift-off from the ocean off the California coast in the second half of the year. The privately funded teams have obtained verified launch contracts to launch their robotic spacecraft toward the moon by the end of the year, contest organizers announced today.
The finalists include teams from Japan, India, the United States (two teams), and Israel and "they all have rocket launch contracts to go to the Moon in 2017", organizers say.
Over 30 teams signed on to the competition after its original announcement back in 2007.
Any GLXP team that fails to launch its space vehicle in time will automatically be considered out of the Google Lunar XPrize race. Part-Time Scientists (a German team that had partnered with the famous auto manufacturer Audi to build its land rover) is also planning to launch its space vehicle in mid-2018.
So did a whole bunch of other people, and now five teams are in the final running to do just that in the Google Lunar XPrize contest. Only past year did the first-ever commercial flight to the moon get approved in the USA, and as Tim Fernholz wrote for Quartz at the time, that took an unprecedented inter-agency collaboration and a special ruling. According to reports, all the five finalists now in the running to claim the $20 million cash prize from Google managed to get contracts from independent companies to fly them to the moon this year making them the only competitors who have an actual chance to complete the race. This craft will also carry the rover of Hakuto team as part of an agreement.
Five teams remain in the competition. The deadline for launch has been set as December 31, 2017.
SpaceIL plans to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.Team Indus and Hakuto will share a ride on an Indian PSLV launcher.Moon Express is banking on a launch from startup Rocket Lab, which is developing a small rocket called Electron.Synergy Moon is counting on one of its partners, .Interorbital Systems, for its launch aboard a new rocket known as Neptune. The prize was meant to acknowledge those teams that have promoted ethnic diversity within Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines.