Artist's impression of space travel circa 1958: a Lunar Liner designed to transport people to and from the moon. How close are we to this futuristic dream?[/b]

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The Future of Lunar Exploration

The moon has remained untouched by humans for more than four decades. In 2004, President George W. Bush vowed to send astronauts to the moon by 2020, but the Constellation program lost its funding, and the space shuttles were retired.

Thankfully though, it's no longer just governments involved in the space race -- a number of wealthy entrepreneurs also want their shot at glory. Google has offered up a $25 million prize to the first person who can send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon. To win the Google Lunar X Prize, entrants must not only land a craft on the moon but also travel 1,640 feet (500 meters) in a lunar rover and send back high-resolution video and photos from the surface of the moon.

At least one company is planning to sell trips to the moon to wealthy would-be astronauts. Space Adventures offers tourists trips aboard a modified Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The trip, which also includes a stay at the International Space Station, can be had for a mere $100 million.

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