The Heat Is On To Reach the $30 Million Lunar XPRIZE Finish Line

8 years ago, Google announced a $30 million prize for the first team or teams to land a privately funded rover on the moon before the end of 2017. Sixteen teams have registered to compete for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, but now two teams have jumped out front of the rest with actual contracts to launch in 2017.
Israeli team SpaceIL landed a contract with SpaceX in October to use a Falcon 9 rocket to launch its probe, making them the first team with a launch contract confirmed by XPRIZE. Earlier that month, Moon Express CEO Bob Richards announced that his team had secured a launch contract; today XPRIZE confirmed that MoonEx has indeed struck a deal with Rocket Lab for three Lunar missions, using the Electron rocket to transport Moon Express’s MX-1E lunar lander.
In addition to landing a rover on the moon, a team must have their vehicle travel 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth to win the grand prize of $20 million. The second team to accomplish this will win $5 million, and the remaining $5 million will be divvied up between teams for "further technical and scientific achievements, such as surviving the lunar night or visiting an Apollo landing site."
"We are extremely proud to officially confirm receipt and verification of Moon Express’s launch contract," said senior director of the Google Lunar XPRIZE Chanda Gonzales. "At XPRIZE, we believe that the spirit of competition brings about breakthroughs that once seemed unimaginable or impossible, and so it thrills us to now have two Google Lunar XPRIZE teams with verified launch contracts attempting missions to the moon in 2017.  The new space race is truly on!"