Odyssey Moon, a company based on the Isle of Man, on Thursday became the first team officially entered in the Google-sponsored Lunar X Prize, which is offering a total of $30 million in prize money to support a lunar mission. The $20 million first prize will be for the team that can fly a spacecraft to the moon, operate a robotic rover, and then transmit a Mooncast back to Earth, all before December 31, 2012. After that, the prize money starts dropping. There is also a $5 million second prize, and $5 million in bonus prizes for additional tasks completed by the rover on the Moon. Funding and policy issues related to government-sponsored space exploration are opening the door for even more private involvement in space, and it may be that the next moon landing won’t be made by China or Japan or the US, but a private company. Several hundred teams have already made inquiries about entering the competition, so Odyssey Moon may only be the first of many.