One of the truths that has hampered the exploration of Space has been the lack of money to undertake all the projects that some would want to do. The fact applies to big space agencies such as NASA and small, commercial startups. Money will no longer be a barrier for Moon Express’ quest to be the first private company to land on the moon. The company announced that it has raised $20 million to finance its first attempt to land its MX-1E spacecraft on the lunar surface by the end of 2017.

Moon Express is a participant in the Google Lunar XPrize, designed to give a cash award to the first private company to land on the moon and perform certain tasks, such as returning hi resolution video and images and moving at least 500 meters from the initial landing site.

The company is in a contemporary moon race with other groups from around the world, including Germany, Israel, India, and Japan.

Moon Express is raising an extra $10 million as a contingency and hopes to have enough funding for three more missions. After that, company CEO and co-founder Bob Richards is confident that the company will be able to finance subsequent missions from profits on previous ones, starting the first self-funding space program in history.

One final obstacle stands between Moon Express and its dream of landing on the moon. It has contracted with Rocket Lab, an American New Zealand company that is developing a rocket called the Electron. The Electron has yet to fly, though indications are that the first of three test flights will happen as early as March.

If the rocket works as advertised, Moon Express is well on its way to landing on the moon’s surface.

With the incoming Trump administration rumored to be setting its sights on a return to the moon and having a keen interest in commercial space, companies such as Moon Express could have a significant role in such an effort. NASA is developing a heavy-lift rocket called the Space Launch System and a spacecraft called the Orion capable to reaching cis-lunar space. All it will need is a lander, perhaps commercially acquired, to get the rest of the way to the moon.