Moon Express, a startup company competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, is currently raising a $10 million round of financing that it says will keep it on track for a 2015 lunar landing mission.

Speaking May 22 at the Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif., Moon Express Chief Executive Bob Richards said the company was “more than halfway” toward raising the $10 million in a Series B financing round that he said would allow the company to accelerate its efforts. 

“If you talk to other space entrepreneurs out there,” he said, “you’ll find that $10 million is kind of the critical mass you need for that commercial enterprise to really take off.”

Moon Express, headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., is developing a lunar lander based in part on NASA technology. The funding would be used to keep the development effort for the mission on schedule for launch in late 2015, shortly before the Google Lunar X Prize is scheduled to expire — at the end of 2015.

Richards said an additional financing round, raising between $10 million and $30 million, would likely be needed before the company’s first mission launches. He said Moon Express estimates the cost of that initial mission at $50 million, a figure that “brings you within the realm of investment” to make the mission possible. Richards said he was previously concerned the mission could cost as much as $100 million, which would have made it far more difficult for the company to finance it.