The new space race fueled by private funds and ambitions has just received a major boost

Private companies around the world are rushing to reach the moon by next year.

?? – One of the American companies that wants to take your business to the moon has just received a huge financial boost as part of the privatized global moon race.

Astrobotic Technology was founded by a team at Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 when Google announced a competition for engineers to land and drive a rover on the moon’s surface and send HD videos back to Earth by the next. end of 2017. Astrobotic announced this week that it has raised $ 2.5 million in seed funding, in part from Space Angels Network, a group of investors that funds early stage space startups.

Sixteen teams, from countries such as China, Israel, Brazil, Canada and Chile, compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, up from 29 in 2007. The grand prize is $ 20 million, but Google has already awarded millions of dollars in three different stages. competition. Only Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology won all three of these competitions, taking home a total of $ 1.75 million in prizes in January 2015.

Astrobotic said it plans to fly its first mission to the moon before the end of 2017. An Astrobotic Technology spokesperson told ABC News that even though the company doesn’t win Google’s contest, it still plans a pipeline of regular missions to the moon beyond its first.

Only one other US company, Florida-based Moon Express, has won the Google milestone awards. This company won awards for “landing”, which tested hardware and software for a soft landing, and “imaging”, which tested optics and image processing capability. . However, Moon Express has a grip on Astrobotic when it comes to fundraising. Moon Express has raised over $ 30 million, TechCrunch reported.

Astrobotic customers pay $ 1.2 million per kilogram for delivery to the lunar surface, and it can range from everything from cremated human remains to personal memories. Hendrickson says it is “a very low cost to write history and open the Moon to a new era of activity.”

So far, Astrobotic has entered into 10 deals for “payloads” on the first mission of individuals, businesses, universities, nonprofits and governments. The Mexican Space Agency, or Agencia Espacial Mexicana, sends the first Latin American payload to the moon via the company’s lunar delivery service.

Seven of the ten payloads in the first mission are unrelated to the Google contest, Hendrickson told ABC News.

“Only three of the fifty plus space agencies have ever landed on the moon,” said Hendrickson. “Our offering is a fundamental change in the affordability of lunar access. It will enable a new era of activity on the Moon without increasing existing space budgets.”

Astrobotic decided to team up with two other teams, AngelicvM from Chile and Hakuto from Japan, agreeing to transport their rovers to the moon in a bid to win the grand prize. They have an undisclosed deal to share the potential prize money.

Teams have until December 31 to submit a verified launch contract to advance in the competition, and only two teams have done so at this point: Israel’s SpaceIL and Moon Express.

“At XPRIZE, we believe the competitive spirit brings breakthroughs that once seemed unimaginable or impossible, and so we’re thrilled now to have two Google Lunar XPRIZE teams with verified launch contracts attempting missions to the Moon in 2017, “Chanda Gonzales, senior manager of Google Lunar XPRIZE, told ABC News. “The new space race is truly on.”

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