Five teams have qualified to compete in a $30 million Google-backed competition to land and operate robotic spacecraft on the surface of the moon, the XPrize Foundation said on Tuesday. Contenders now have until Dec. 31 for their spacecraft to be launched, said the foundation, which is running the Google Lunar XPrize and eight other technology stimulus contests. Previously, competitors needed to complete activities on the lunar surface, such as having their vehicles travel 1,640 feet (500 meters) and broadcast high-definition video, by the end of the year. Since the contest was announced in 2007, interest in the Google Lunar XPrize has been high, with 33 teams originally signing up to compete for the $20 million first prize.

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