After three years of work and several public failures, Armadillo Aerospace last weekend won the Lunar Lander Challenge, and with it $350,000.
The Challenge was designed to give private companies, especially small ones like AA, the experience of working on one facet of space operations so that it might eventually bid on providing that service to the space program. The service involved in the LLC is ferrying cargo, and possibly humans, between a lunar base and lunar orbit. To win the competition, AA had to launch a vehicle several hundred feet into the air. fly it horizontally for 90 seconds, and land it softly and safely at a designated target.
That's a long way from operating spacecraft on the Moon, but by the time NASA has a lunar base that needs a ferry service, AA might be ready to supply one-- for a price.