The moon can make one behave in a strange manner. Well, this is somewhat proven when Google Inc. agreed to sponsor a $30 million competition for the first individual or organization that can land an unmanned rover on the moon by 31 December 2012. The robotic probe must move over a distance of 500 meters at least and broadcast the journey back to earth. The prize is reduced to 15 million if the feat is accomplished by 2014. SA second prize winner gets 5 million. There are also bonuses for finding relics from the US Apollo moon landings and Soviet space projects, or detecting water ice. NASA has initiated a similar space race by offering $750,000 to American citizens only who succeed in the lunar rendezvous in its Centennial Challenges programs.

The competition by well-known Google has prompted renewed interest in space race and ambitions. It has given publicity and acceptance for space exploration to a wider population worldwide. Google Inc.’s interest and huge investment also reflects growing public interest in a previously elitist industry. X Prize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis told Reuters in an interview: “The moon is an offshore island of Earth that has valuable resources which will benefit us as we grow as a species. We should look at it in that fashion.” Others believe: “We’re starting on steps that will eventually lead to permanent settlement of the moon and Mars.”