(CNN) – In today’s dollars, it cost nearly 140 billion to put a man on the moon. It was the culmination of the Cold War space race. Now another space race is nearing its end, the 30 million dollar Google Lunar X Prize.
Teams have to put a rover on the moon, move it 500 meters in any direction and feedback high definition video from the lunar surface. The teams must be almost entirely privately funded and they have until December 31, 2017.
Two teams lead the way towards that deadline, an American team called Moon Express and the Israeli team, SpaceIL.
“Israel is the startup nation, so we as the startup nation must continue to be leading in all these branch of technologies,” said Inbal Kreiss, Israel Aerospace Industries.
SpaceIL was the first team to book their launch to the moon, sometime next year. CNN visited SpaceIL at Israel Aerospace Industries, putting on jackets and hats to enter the clean room.
First prize is 20 million dollars and yet it costs much more than 20 million dollars to get to the moon, why do this?
“Well, of course, not for the prize. There are many reasons why to be there. We as a Israeli team, we would like to put Israel, Israeli technology on the moon next to the Russians, the Americans and China, so we believe that by itself is a great achievement,” said Eran Privman, SpaceIL CEO.
CEO Eran Privman remembers watching man first step on the moon. He was just a little boy. It was a moment of inspiration that he uses to this day at SpaceIL.
“If we accomplish it, then we definitely open a new era for commercial travel to either the moon or to mars or to elsewhere,” said Privman.
That would’ve sounded like science fiction a few years ago and that may be the real mission of the Google Lunar X Prize, to redefine what’s possible.