Googling Space Exploration

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Google and X Prize officials have unveiled nine new privately funded teams that will compete for $30 million in the Google Lunar X Prize challenge, a race to the moon. "It's not just a new mission," Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, said during Thursday's announcement here at Google's headquarters. "It's a new way of doing business."

The Google Lunar X Prize, unveiled last September, aims to encourage privately funded lunar exploration — just as the $10 million Ansari X Prize provided a jump start for space tourism three years ago. Private-sector moonshots could open the way to commercial ventures ranging from robotic mining operations to lunar hotels and virtual reality-TV expeditions.

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