The Google Lunar X Prize is announced on September 13, with the stated aim of encouraging commercial spaceflight and exploration. The contest challenges privately funded teams to put a robotic spacecraft on the moon, move the craft 1,640 feet (500 meters), and have it beam high-definition photos and video back to Earth.

The first team to do this by the end of 2012 (the deadline was later changed to March 31, 2018) would win $20 million. The second-place team would get $5 million, and an additional $5 million was promised for various special accomplishments, bringing the total prize purse to $30 million.