Lunar Lander Challenged

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

Archive for September 2006

RLV and Space Transport News

keeps up on Lunar Lander Challenge news (among other things):

From Top Spacer, aka Clark Lindsey:

Armadillo Aerospace now has a page dedicated to its Lunar Lander Challenge effort: Armadillo Aerospace – 2006 X Prize Cup Lander Challenges

Not much info posted there yet. However, it’s nice to see Nvidia sponsoring a NewSpace company (this sponsorship was announced back in August). Hope more firms step up to support other entrepreneurial space projects.

The site also displays a cool Armadillo Aerospace X Prize Cup 2006 Patch

Written by spacefaring

September 30, 2006 at 11:43 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Masten Space Will Not Compete This Year

From Dave Masten to aRocket:

Ian Moore posted this just a bit ago:

As he says, we’re not competing in the XPrize Cup Vertical Rocket/Lunar Lander Challenge. 5 people and less than a year is just not enough time to put together a solid entry. This stuff is hard, especially when the head honcho is ana^h^h^h a perfectionist. 😉

We’re still planning on being at the X Prize Cup and we’re working out what if anything we’ll do there. We will most likely be showing off the XA-0.1 vehicle, and doing some looooonnnnnnnggggggg engine firings with some throttling.

Best of luck to the remaining teams, especially Armadillo.


Written by spacefaring

September 26, 2006 at 8:45 pm

Posted in lunar lander

eXpected @ X Prize Cup

Not flying, but headlining the eXecutive Summit:

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, almost President Al Gore and international space blogging sensation Anousheh Ansari.

Written by spacefaring

September 26, 2006 at 1:12 am

Posted in lunar lander

Lunar Landers on The Space Show

Update: This was a great Space Show! — watch for the Podcast at Feedburner

Tomorrow on The Space Show

The Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006 Space Show from 9:30-11 AM PDT welcomes Dr. Buzz Aldrin to the show.

Dr. Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. or Buzz Aldrin as he is known, was the second human to walk on the moon. On July 20, 1969, he followed Neil Armstrong onto the lunar surface while a third American astronaut, Michael Collins, remained in orbit overhead. Aldrin attended West Point, flew fighter jets in the Korean War, and then earned a doctorate in astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before joining the NASA astronaut corps in October of 1963. He flew on the Gemini 12 space mission (launched 11 November 1966) and then was chosen as the lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the surface of the moon. The success of Apollo 11 made Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins international heroes. Since his retirement from NASA, Aldrin has been an unabashed booster for space exploration. He founded Starcraft Boosters, a private rocket design firm. His autobiography, Return to Earth was published in 1973. He also wrote the sci-fi novels Encounter With Tiber (1996) and The Return (2000). Aldrin reached the rank of colonel in the U.S. Air Force… He reportedly got the nickname Buzz from his baby sister, who called him “buzzer” while trying to say “brother”. You can find out much more about Buzz by visiting his website,

Yesterday on The Space Show

Broadcast 558 (Special Edition)
Aired on September 24th, 2006
Guests: Dr. William Gaubatz, Dr. Patricia Hynes

Dr. William Gaubatz and Dr. Patricia Hynes were the guests for this Space Show program to discuss the upcoming International Symposium on Personal Space Flight (ISPSF) and the X Prize Cup.

The ISPSF is hosted by Space Grant New Mexico and New Mexico State University and is a terrific two day conference supporting private and commercial space development. Our program discussed this symposium in detail, pointing out the quality speakers, the agenda, and some of the very fun events being planned for those attending the symposium. We then discussed X Prize Cup which takes place later in the week in Las Cruces, NM.

Both Dr. Gaubatz and Dr. Hynes shared with us not only the details of these two important events but also their importance from their unique perspectives. In addition to the discussion of these two events, listener questions were asked of Dr. Gaubatz regarding the DC-X project which he headed. You will not want to miss his discussion of DC-X.

Also, he pointed out that attending these events will afford people the opportunity to meet the current crop of historical space figures still alive, well, and working to further space development. How many of us would like to meet Goddard or Von Braun?

Well, do we want to say that about many of the greats that will be at these events? No way so we all need to show up for the opportunity to meet the founders and heroes that have taken us so far so quickly in space development. You can get more information about these two events at

More at

Written by spacefaring

September 25, 2006 at 5:29 pm

Posted in lunar lander

90-Second Hover

Armadillo Aerospace Lunar Lander Challenge team leader John Carmack updates the aRocket discussion group on progress:


This is a really big video that isn’t all that exciting:

There were two issues we were concerned about right after we did this flight:

The lox pressure dropped a lot more than the fuel pressure, causing a drastic mixture ratio change, and we wound up burning some stainless from the injector at the very end, probably because with the low lox pressure not bending the unlike impinging fuel elements straight down, we got a recirculating region that we don’t get at normal pressures.

There were some attitude oscillations towards the end of the flight.

We didn’t realize it until I looked at the side view video and telemetry back at the shop, but all the problem turned out to be was that the vehicle drifted enough that it was tugging on the tether bungee cords, which caused lots of firing of the lox side roll thrusters, depleting a lot of lox ullage pressure, and also caused the oscillations. If we had been flying without tethers, we wouldn’t have seen either issue.

There was a slight drift in the integrated velocity position versus the true position over 90 seconds of about two meters, which contributed to my not realizing the exact position of the vehicle and the tethers.

The second vehicle should be getting in the air next week, and we will be trying for the 180 second flights soon.

John Carmack

Written by spacefaring

September 25, 2006 at 11:10 am

Posted in lunar lander

Lunar Lander Challenge eXclusive

Read the latest eXclusive news at

(Oddly, no mention of Masten Space Systems… )

^ Update: 2:35 p.m. PDT — Dave Masten confessed that he did not answer his email in time to be included in the article today, but said that Masten Space Systems still plans to make a showing at X Prize Cup.

Written by spacefaring

September 22, 2006 at 10:06 am

Posted in lunar lander

Questions about Lunar Lander Challenge

Answers by Will Pomerantz, X Prize Director of Space Projects.

Q: Will there be competitors in Lunar Lander Challenge this year?


Q: Have the rules been changed?

The rules have not been changed, although some clarifications have been made, and a few waivers for 2006 only have been issued.

Q: Have any teams received licenses or experimental permits to fly in Lunar Lander Challenge?

One of the waivers made for 2006 was to relax the timelines for teams to get their permits. This waiver was issued because the experimental permit is a brand new process for the FAA, and anticipating how long it would take them to process applications was difficult.

Q: Have any demo flights been scheduled or completed?

Some demo flights have been scheduled; however, this was also one of the requirements relaxed by waiver for 2006 only.

Written by spacefaring

September 19, 2006 at 6:57 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Video Prize for NASA’s Greatest Fan — Contest Ends Friday – Only First 1500 Entries Accepted

The contest opens at 8 a.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 18, 2006, and closes at midnight on Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. Only the first 1500 entries will be accepted.

Looking for NASA’s Greatest Fan


Are you serious about space travel? Or perhaps you’re a fanatic for flight? Maybe you’re passionate about the planets? Are you eager for exploration?

NASA’s Greatest Fan Video Contest.

NASA is looking for video entries from the public to determine who deserves the title: NASA’s Greatest Fan.

NASA and WIRED Magazine are teaming up to find — and reward — “NASA’s Greatest Fan.” The agency is holding a video contest, and one deserving winner and guest will receive a free trip to Kennedy Space Center. There, they will be treated as VIPs at an upcoming space shuttle launch.

Video entries should show why their creators deserve the title of “NASA’s Greatest Fan.” The videos should demonstrate a passion for NASA and its programs, such as human spaceflight, space exploration, aeronautics, and space and Earth science. The videos cannot be longer than 30 seconds, or larger than two megabytes. They must also be appropriate for all audiences. The contest is open to U.S. residents only. Videos that do not meet those requirements will be disqualified. Entrants must be between the ages of 13 and 24.

It’s not enough for the videos to be good; they also have to be submitted quickly. The contest opens at 8 a.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 18, 2006, and closes at midnight on Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. Only the first 1500 entries will be accepted.

Related Resources
+ NASA’s Greatest Fan Contest Web site

+ NASA’s Greatest Fan Contest Rules and Regulations
Nine finalists will be selected by a team of NASA judges, and posted on the NASA Web site for online voting from Sept. 27-30. The video entries of the nine finalists will be featured at WIRED Magazine’s NextFest technology showcase at the Javitz Convention Center in New York City from Thursday, Sept. 28-30. Visitors to NextFest will be given the opportunity to vote on-site from the Exploration Pavilion.

Through the partnership with WIRED, the winner and a guest will receive free travel and hotel accommodations for the trip to Florida. They will attend launch briefings and special tours with other VIP guests. The winner and guest will also be able to watch the shuttle launch from an upclose viewing area.

This contest is designed to promote awareness and understanding of NASA’s activities, and encourage new generations of youth to explore the impact of space, science and technology on our world.

NASA has an ongoing tradition of investing in the nation’s education programs, with a major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations and career ambitions of America’s young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in education programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines critical to NASA’s future engineering, scientific and technical missions.

Written by spacefaring

September 19, 2006 at 10:26 am

Posted in lunar lander

Return of da Vinci Project to X Prize Cup

News from Brian Feeney’s da Vinci Project.

The da Vinci Project to showcase new manned spaceflight hardware design at this years XPRIZE Cup in New Mexico

Toronto, Ont. – Sept. 18, 2006 – The da Vinci Project is pleased to announce that it will be participating in this years XPRIZE Cup in Las Cruces New Mexico October 20th and 21st. This will be the second year for the da Vinci Project at the XPRIZE Cup and marking ten years in a row that it has participated in major XPRIZE activities.

“We will be show casing a new design at this years XPRIZE Cup said Brian Feeney, Team Leader of the da Vinci Project. We also have some major announcements concerning our commercial manned space flight business initiatives and the new design reflects the space flight style of hardware we intend to bring to the suborbital space tourism market.”

The XPRIZE and Cup series have been instrumental in the inspiration of private manned flights to space. The da Vinci Project is a leading contender to be the second private group in the world to complete a manned sub orbital flight to space.

“We’re proud to have been associated with the XPRIZE and the Cup series since 1996 said Brian Feeney. The da Vinci Project has had a significant role in the XPRIZE and will continue to be a prime leader in the manned space flight field.”

The da Vinci Project will be rolling out its commercial manned spaceflight plans starting at the XPRIZE Cup and throughout the fall of 2006.

About The da Vinci Project

The da Vinci Project’s was a leading contender for the Ansari X PRIZE, the international “New Race to Space(R)”. The Project is backed by a core of volunteers from many walks of life and disciplines. Aerospace engineers, experts in project management and finance contribute their time and expertise towards the realization of the next step in Human discovery. The Project’s novel rocket design will be launched from the world’s largest reusable helium balloon at an altitude of 70,000 feet (24,400 meters).

For more information, please call:

The da Vinci Project Media Contact:

Brian Feeney

Written by spacefaring

September 19, 2006 at 9:25 am

Posted in lunar lander

Masten Space XA-0.1 progress

Jon Goff updated Masten Space Systems blog today, with news of XA-0.1’s engine trials and igniter tribulations. Nice photo of the soon-to-be flying machine’s innards here.

Allison Gatlin wrote a story about Masten Space for the Antelope Valley Press. Now they have *really* arrived in Mojave.

Written by spacefaring

September 13, 2006 at 3:32 pm

Posted in lunar lander