Attention, Google Lunar X Prize competitors! China is looking to take $5 million out of one of your pockets. And they may not be anything you can do about it.
China has announced definitive plans to launch its Chang’e-3 lunar mission during the second half of 2013. The mission includes a lander as well as a six-wheeled rover that will explore the lunar surface.
If the mission is successful, then the first prize in the Google-sponsored private moon race will decrease from $20 million to $15 million. There are also a $5 million second prize and several bonus prizes for achievements on the lunar surface.
Given what is currently known about the GLXP competitors, it seems unlikely that any team is in a position to beat the well-funded Chinese program to the moon by the end of next year.
Teams have until the end of 2015 to claim the prize before the competition turns into a pumpkin.