An Israeli company competing for Google’s Lunar XPrize has made it one small step closer to landing a rover on the moon. SpaceIL, a small Israeli nonprofit foundation working in the country’s almost non-existent space sector, announced that it plans to conduct the world’s first private mission to the moon in 2017.
SpaceIL is one of several companies and organizations competing in Google’s Lunar XPrize, which offers $30 million to the first party to land a privately funded robot on the surface of the moon.
According to XPrize vice president Bob Weiss, SpaceIL has secured a verified launch contract to send a rover to the Moon via SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in 2017 through contractor Spaceflight.
Several other groups are also participating in the Lunar XPrize competition, and SpaceIL’s contract with Spaceflight and SpaceX gives them a significant advantage in the race.
The Lunar XPrize is viewed as a way to jump-start technological innovation through private space exploration; academia and companies, including small startups, are expected to provide much of the technology that will make the lunar exploration project work.
Update: This article was updated to clarify SpaceIL’s connection with Spaceflight and SpaceX.NU