In 2004 Burt Rutan launched first private-made manned vehicle ever into space. His Tier One program became possible thanks to Ansari X PRIZE, a contest to create a reusable manned spacecraft and to put it into space twice within two weeks.
In 2007 X Prize Foundation and Google Inc. announced the beginning of the new competition, Google Lunar X PRIZE. This challenge calls for privately-funded teams to compete in launching, landing, and then traveling across the surface of the moon. Lunar Rover should send back to our planet high-definition video, photo and other data.
The X PRIZE Foundation will award 20 million dollars to the first team, which will be able to land a robot on the moon that successfully travels more than 500 meters and transmits back images and HD-video. There is a $5 million second prize, as well as $5 million in potential bonus prizes for extra achievements, traveling distances greater than 5,000 meters, for example, or capturing images of man made objects on the moon, such as Apollo remains or Luna probes, or detecting ice on one of the Moon's craters, or successful surviving a terribly cold lunar night. The X PRIZE offers the 20 million dollars first-place prize until December 31, 2012, thereafter it offers $15 million until December 31, 2014.
Teams from all over the world are able to participate, stimulation of international cooperation and communications is one of the main goals of this contest.