Two competitors in the Google Lunar XPrize competition have teamed up and hope to stage the first car race in outer space.
The United States’ Astrobotics and Japan’s Hakuta teams announced on Monday that they plan to send their robot rovers to the moon on the same trip next year via commercial space flight company SpaceX. Astrobotics has developed a lander called the Griffin that will deliver the pair to the surface where they will compete for a portion of the $20 million grand prize.
To win, the solar-powered off-roaders will have to travel at least 500 meters while streaming HD video back to earth. Astrobotics CEO John Thornton said in a press release that they envision a “’NASCAR on the Moon’ scenario, where competing teams land together, and countries can cheer on their team to the finish line.”
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Other teams in the competition have been invited to join their rocket pool and share the prize with the winner, but none has yet announced if they’ll take them up on the offer.
Final flight plan confirmations must be filed by Dec. 31 of this year for the contest to move forward, and the mission must be completed by the end of 2016.