Lunar Lander Challenged

One small step for NASA, One giant leap for the X Prize

Eyes on the Prize: Masten out? Paragon in!

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Since abandoning the cause of public service journalism with this blog now that X Prize Foundation no longer needs my ankle-biting to promote Lunar Lander Challenge, I hope all you once-loyal readers know to keep an eye on Clark Lindsey’s indispensable RLV and Space Transport News — read several times daily! [update/afterthought — don’t neglect the tip jar!]

Here is a great story linked today, by Jeff Foust at The Space Review: Eyes on the lunar lander prize.

I’ll just add that the Armadillo team mentioned in the coffee shop at Space Access conference that Kevin Sagis of Paragon Labs looks like the most dangerous threat to an Armadillo win this year — and this blog is so outdated, Paragon isn’t even on the 2007 Teams? list…

Written by spacefaring

April 2, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Posted in lunar lander

XA 0.1 really wants to fly

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Written by spacefaring

January 16, 2007 at 6:36 pm

Posted in lunar lander

2007 draft rules for public comment

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X Prize Foundation Director of Space Projects Will Pomerantz writes today:

Happy New Year! I hope that the first few weeks of 2007 have been going well for you all, and that you are all starting to look forward to the 2007 Wirefly X PRIZE Cup and the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NG-LLC).

I’m pleased to announce that the rules for the 2007 edition of the NG-LLC are almost complete. Before we lock them down, though, we want to give you a chance to comment on them. This the best time for you to request clarifications, point out errors, identify loopholes, or request changes in the rules for the 2007 contest. You will note that the rules are quite similar to those used in 2006; however, there have been a few minor tweaks and clarifications.

Please feel free to comment on any section of the rules; however, I would like to draw your attention specifically to the following items:
– Gold Box: Similarly, I have heard requests that XPF provide (free or at cost) a standard Gold Box, rather than allowing teams to construct their own. If you have a strong opinion on this, please voice it.
– Refueling: You will note that the new section A.2.19.1 constitutes one of very few substantive changes to the rules from the 2006 edition. If you disagree with the change, please let us know.
– Payload: I have heard requests that XPF provide a standard payload, rather than allowing the teams to provide their own. If you have a strong opinion on this, please let us know.
– Propellants: Our list of allowable propellants is not yet finalized, pending the finalizations of our agreements with our host venue. This is the most accurate list available at present.
– Vehicle Reference Point: This replaces the “Vehicle Centerline”, which was deemed unnecessarily complex. If you disagree with the change, please let us know.

All changes after this public comment period will be at the sole discretion of the X PRIZE Foundation and NASA—however, we greatly look forward to your input. Please feel free to pass this message along to other parties you know may be interested—though I ask that you please not post my phone number (in my signature, below) on any websites.

Once we have reviewed your comments and accommodated your requests wherever possible, we will finalize the changes, publicize the final rules, and open registration. This timeline will ultimately depend on NASA’s concurrence cycle—but we hope that this will occur in mid-February.

The public comment period begins now, and will end at 5:00pm EST on Monday, January 22nd, 2007. Comments should be submitted to with the subject “NG-LLC Comments”.

Kind regards, and thank you in advance for your comments,

William Pomerantz
Director of Space Projects
X PRIZE Foundation


Written by spacefaring

January 16, 2007 at 4:02 am

Posted in lunar lander

X Prize Cup video scrapbook: Danger! Amateur Rockets

The copy at’s X Prize Cup video page still promises more than it delivers (and doesn’t spell Lunar Lander Challenge’s title sponsor quite right)… [update: spelling corrected; nagging works!]

Welcome to the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup On-Demand Video Archives
Don’t miss a moment of the 2006 Earth’s Great Space Exposition! Watch the thrilling events as teams compete in the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Elevator Games, and more! Enjoy all the action, expos and events.

…but a few new videos have been posted since last time I looked, so apparently it’s a work in progress. It’s nice to see the pre-packaged video portions of the program that I missed by actually being at the event, especially the two-parter about New Mexico’s space history, and the somewhat strangely titled “Carmack vs. Moon,” in which X Prize officials explain that Lunar Lander Challenge is meant to inspire alternative technology for landing on the Moon.

Of special interest to Lunar Lander Challenge followers is “Best of Day #2: Highlights, Saturday, October 20th at the Wirefly X Prize Cup competitions.” (Never mind that Saturday was October 21st…) Watch for a couple of shots of John Carmack at the controls during Pixel’s bumpy landings and read his lips. The man wanted to win.

Also in the Best of Day#2, a short clip of the scary Rocket Truck In Chains firing its hillbilly hybrid engine. (Note to Tim Pickens: Maybe spend weekends this year rocketizing something that goes up?)

In other new videos… titles like this can’t be good for the experimental high-power rocket world: “Large Dangerous Amateur Rockets! Homebuilt personal missiles flown by members of the Tripoli Rocketry Association.” Who writes this stuff?

On the positive side, you don’t have to watch The History Channel ads with the Caveman to see the videos anymore. I don’t mind watching ads for, since they did help pay for the show. On the not-yet-perfect side, this is far from a “Complete Video Archive.”

Written by spacefaring

November 12, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Unreasonable Rocket

After standing on the sidelines and squawking about the paperwork deadlines for Lunar Lander Challenge this year, Paul Breed is going for the gold in 2007. Inspired by Armadillo’s and Masten’s informative and educational blogs, Paul has also decided to share his experience.

Don’t forget the YouTube channel!

Written by spacefaring

November 9, 2006 at 10:02 am

Posted in lunar lander

Saddle up! (who needs wings?)

‘Doom’ creator turned rocket pioneer’ by Stefanie Olsen, CNET News: Beyond plans to scoop up the lion’s share of Lunar Lander Challenge prize money next year, Armadillo is still lobbying Rocket Racing League to create a non-winged division for Vertical Dragsters, and trying to solve the problem of getting the cost of the ride down.

Written by spacefaring

November 9, 2006 at 9:28 am

Posted in lunar lander

X Prize Cup 2006: A HobbySpace Special Report

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November 3, 2006 at 8:43 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Vote for Okie Noodlin’, be an X Prize Cup VIP

You could win a VIP Trip to see the Rocket Racing Finals at X Prize Cup 2007 in New Mexico — game of chance at

You can enter this contest every day: All you have to do is register at, answer a brief survey on your feelings about POWERade and how you’d like to spend your points — then vote for the SportsBlender video you like best on that day. The simple act of voting for Okie Noodlin’ gives you a chance to hang out in the VIP Chalet at next year’s X Prize Cup — and more importantly will win you a parking pass so you don’t have to ride the shuttle bus from the Fairgrounds.

As a special bonus, the winner will also be present to see NASA cheerfully award up to $2 million in prizes for Lunar Lander Challenge 2007.

Written by spacefaring

November 3, 2006 at 8:25 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Mojave Spaceport Veterans

From a news release soon to be posted on Mojave Airport’s website:

Mojave VFW, Post #7156, Mojave Chamber of Commerce, Mojave Transportation Museum Foundation and East Kern Airport District will sponsor a Veterans Day Observance at the new Mojave Spaceport Patio, dedicating the new EKAD Board Room and Rotary Rocket Roton display at Mojave Airport on Veterans Day Saturday November 11, 2006.

[Mojave Airport is home to Lunar Lander Challenge contender Masten Space Systems, so it’s possible XA-0.1 could make an appearance, but this has been neither confirmed nor denied, due to lack of effort.]

A tribute to all Veterans who have served America and recognition of those serving today! USAF F-117 Stealth Fighter Fly-By at 10:20 a.m.!

Photo ops with “Skyraider Bob” Douglas AD-6 Skyraider aircraft flying at Noon!

Aviation Art Show & Static Displays begin at 10:00 a.m.

Ceremony with Keynote Speaker 11:00 a.m. — Brian Binnie Retired U.S. Navy Fighter Pilot, Gulf War Veteran, Roton Test Pilot And Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne X-Prize Winning Commercial Astronaut!

Historical Aircraft & military equipment on static display and in the air! Mojave Seniors will provide homemade cookies & coffee

Free lunch for Veterans at the Mojave Elks Lodge after ceremony!

Written by spacefaring

November 3, 2006 at 9:06 am

Posted in lunar lander

Revelation, reporting, remote review

Is there something to the rumor that Armadillo skimped on landing gear so they could compete in a fair contest next year? John Carmack wrote yesterday to the Alternative Rocketry discussion group:

Subject: Pixel lives!
Date: October 30, 2006 12:10:14 PM PST

We hydrotested everything to 600 psi on Saturday without any problems. There is a dent in one of the tanks where the roll thruster mount pushed in, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the strength.

We should have new landing gear on tomorrow night, with a 3″ diameter sliding piston that should handle coming down at our worst case (non-crashing) velocity and orientation.

In-depth reporting from X Prize Cup by someone who was there: Private Spaceflight Industry Drawing Private, NASA Capital By Frank Morring, Jr. Aviation Week & Space Technology 10/28/2006

Grumbling and scoffing from someone who only watched the webcast: Space Daily OPINION SPACE – A Second Childhood For The Rocketeers by Jeffrey F. Bell Honolulu HI (SPX) Oct 27, 2006

Written by spacefaring

October 31, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Posted in lunar lander