Why who else but the good people at Google! That's right, the people who brought you both Google Earth and Google Sky have team up with the X-Prize foundation to offer $30 million (U.S.) in prize money for private companies to land a robot on the moon and takes some video and pictures (Check out the full article on BBC with all of the details). Part of that money includes $5 million for taking pictures of old Apollo equipment to prove (or disprove?) that yes, the moon landing was real.
So if this is the first step, will the next prize be to a company that sends tourists to the moon? How about setting up a lunar base? How about landing on Mars? What's next after that? While this is all very exciting, I can't help but wonder about the long term consequences in removing governments from space travel. What rules would govern a company that has set up shop on the moon? And what if a corporation is able to set up a base on say Mars before NASA is able to? Does that mean that the company would own that section of the planet and able to set up their own government?
Maybe Chuck Pahalniuk was right in Fight Club in saying "...when deep-space exploitation ramps up, it will probably be the megatonic corporations that discover all the new planets and map them. The IBM Stellar Sphere. The Philip Morris Galaxy. Planet Denny's. Every planet will take on the corporate identity of whoever rapes it first..."
Enough corporate terror talk, I'll give you what you really wanted to see...
Should any of you be interested in attempting to land a robot on the moon here is the promotional poster/link for more information. I warn you though, I've already started finding ways to duct tape my camera to a remote control car. All I need is a rocket and I'll be rolling in the dough.
I never knew that the original moon was outdated, I figured it had served us well for long enough, but what do I know? I guess we need a full lunar upgrade...
Until next time,