Two Xprize rivals will share a trip to the Moon

Earthrise on the Moon

Just because the Google Lunar Xprize is hotly contested doesn't mean that the competitors always have to be at each other's throats. Astrobotic and Hakuto have announced a partnership that will have Hakuto's rovers (Moonraker and Tetris) "piggyback" on Astrobotic's lander when it hopefully reaches the Moon in the second half of 2016. The two sides will still compete when they touch down, but they're setting it up as a race -- during a conference call, Astrobotic noted that it would wait for the other rovers to give them a fair shot and get some extra camera footage. The new allies aren't saying exactly how they'll split the prize if they win, but Hakuto can still get the lion's share.

The move is unusual, if not entirely surprising. Hakuto didn't get as much cash as Astrobotic from its milestone prize, so it would have had a tougher time paying for its moonshot; clearly, that's no longer a problem. Astrobotic, meanwhile, gets an early customer for its planned delivery service. You probably won't see this kind of harmonious relationship very often, but it's good to see private space exploration companies teaming up in the name of a greater cause.

[Image credit: Getty Images]