When Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, he uttered unforgettable words. But the next visitor to roam the lunar landscape may send back e-mail instead.
Welcome to a new kind of space race, where the earthly guest will be a machine and the goal is as much exploration as seeking out new business ventures.
The quest is part of the Google Lunar X Prize, which will put $20 million into the hands of the first privately funded team that can land a rover on the moon; have it travel on the surface for 500 meters or more; send back data, photos and video; and do it all by December 31, 2012.
The prize drops to $15 million after that date and goes away altogether after 2014.