Google's competition to land on the Moon (opens in new tab) and send a few images has just escalated.
I'd love to say it escalated quickly, but the competition started in 2007, so I'll have to wait for another opportunity for the meme-induced jokes.
Lunar XPrize is a $30 million (£19.3m) competition, and the first prize was supposed to go to any private company capable of sending a rover to the Moon, landing it safely, and sending a few photographs and HD videos back home.
However, the two companies at the forefront of this competition - the Japanese HAKUTO team and the American Astrobotic, have just upped the ante.
Their plan is to send both rovers to the Moon in the same rocket – the SpaceX Falcon 9, planned to launch next year.
Once they arrive (and IF they arrive in the first place), the winner will be the first rover to drive 500 meters and send HD video and images back to Earth.
John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic said (opens in new tab): “We envision a ‘Nascar on the Moon’ scenario, where competing teams land together, and countries can cheer on their team to the finish line. HAKUTO is the first team signed to fulfill our dream of the first race beyond Earth’s orbit.”
Even though 500 meters doesn’t sound like much, Curiosity in comparison drives around Mars with the astonishing 30 meters per hour. So a 500 meters race could take a while.
Even though it sounds like a lot of fun, I can’t imagine why two such expensive and advanced ‘eggs’ should be placed in the same ‘basket’.