The Times has a short article on the Google Lunar Prize: $20 million to the first team to land a spacecraft on the moon and explore 500 meters. The article's largely about the very different approaches people have, not in getting there but how they intend to make money beyond the prize. One wants to sell cargo space to the Moon, another wants to do lunar mining, another wants to send American Idol contestant there (I'm for that) by transmitting the sound waves of their voices through the lunar surface and see who sounds best (oh, never mind).
This really highlights how far we've gone since 2004, when the Ansari X Prize awarded $10 million to the first private group that could get to space. It was all about how they are going to get their. I remember hearing very little about the post-Prize business plan.
But the biggest obstacle of all still looms: funding. Still, a lot of these guys are backed by a member of the super-rich. It reminds me one of the under appreciated benefits of having a bunch of very, very wealthy folks: they are willing to pay god-awful amounts of money for high-tech gizmos, allowing them to be affordable for the rest of us just years, rather than decades, later.