Lunar Lander Challenged

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

Archive for September 2006

New attraction for X Prize Cup

X Prize Foundation’s new website says Anousheh Ansari will appear at X Prize Cup, fresh back from her own personal spaceflight expedition to ISS.

No official news yet on what teams will compete for Lunar Lander Challenge, and the Lunar Lander Challenge X Prize does not appear on the foundation’s list of current X Prizes.

But don’t worry, it must still eXist because it’s still mentioned on the list of attractions and live webcast schedule at X Prize Cup.

Written by spacefaring

September 12, 2006 at 5:54 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Hello world!

with one comment

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Written by spacefaring

September 11, 2006 at 10:26 pm

Posted in lunar lander

X Prize Cup Rocket Truck maybe

Michael Belfiore called in to a Special Edition of The Space Show aired on September 8th, 2006 with guest Tim Pickens to inquire about his Rocket Truck advertised for X Prize Cup.

In response to listener questions, Tim discussed his rocket-powered truck and bike, his plans for the coming X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, NM.

Written by spacefaring

September 10, 2006 at 12:48 am

Posted in lunar lander

Armadillo 65-second hover

John Carmack wrote to aRocket, the Alternative Rocketry mail discussion group, about Armadillo Aerospace‘s Lunar Lander Challenge progress:

It didn’t rain on us in Oklahoma this weekend, so we got to do a long hover test. We intended to run it straight through, but we stopped at 17 seconds when the engine got ratty sounding. We inspected the engine, and it still seemed ok, so we vented the lox back down to atmospheric to cool it off and repressurized.

We lifted off again and hovered for 65 more seconds before we hit lox depletion. The engine went in and out of the ratty performance, but it kept going. I believe that the ugly sounding engine is when lox starts boiling in the injector manifold.

That would always be goodbye injector with aluminum, but the stainless injector seems to get through it, and the poor performance eventually lets it cool back down enough for it to go back to smooth flow and combustion. The big conical pockets on the lox cooling holes are definitely acting as flameholders, I’m pretty sure after we weld them all closed and remachine them as just straight holes that the engine will stay smooth continuously.

We expected to hit lox depletion originally, but venting the tanks and going through our leveling procedure before the restart tossed out a good chunk more lox. We still had a quarter of our fuel load left in the tanks after the flight, and we could load 50% more total propellant if necessary (at the cost of a higher initial ullage pressure). This combination does the 90 second challenge easy.

I am slowly chewing my way through our high performance twisted injector in stainless steel, hopefully for testing on Tuesday.

We had a couple X-Prize Cup folks at the test today, but there is a decent chance we will do our official qualification flights for level 1 next week, and level 2 the week after that. We have been considering the possibility of using the high performance engine for both the level 1 and 2 challenges, possibly doing level 1 as a touch-and-go with no refueling, but I am currently leaning towards using the low performance engine for level 1 because it is a lot easier on the chamber, leaving the glowing chamber for level 2.

Written by spacefaring

September 9, 2006 at 11:39 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Slow Going at X Prize Cup

Spaceward Foundation announces it will stage the second annual Elevator Games, two NASA Centennial Challenges with a total $400,000 in prize money. Space Ref

Written by spacefaring

September 8, 2006 at 6:45 pm

Posted in lunar lander

eXplorers eXcited

eXplorers web at, by climbers, is pretty eXcited about the upcoming X Prize Cup: Huge turn-out expected for futuristic space show in New Mexico Star City, posted <a href="05:21 pm EST Sep 05, 2006 on Everest.

No news here about what teams will compete for Lunar Lander Challenge, but some worries about finding a good hotel room at this late date.

Written by spacefaring

September 5, 2006 at 7:17 pm

Posted in lunar lander

PiXel and TeXel

John Carmack reports on tank insulation, engine tests, new electronics and flight tests in August, leading up to the team’s weekend trip to Oklahoma Spaceport, where damp weather was not their friend. Armadillo Aerospace News

In the NVIDIA-theme, our two vehicles for the X-Prize Cup are named “Pixel” and “Texel” (Pixel gets an added bonus by being a Heinlein character).

Written by spacefaring

September 5, 2006 at 1:11 am

Posted in lunar lander

Win a VIP trip to X Prize Cup

Enter to win a trip that money really can’t buy…you and a friend will receive VIP treatment at the X PRIZE Cup, October 20-21 in Las Cruces, New Mexico! — Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time today October 1

[update 6:30 p.m., as noted by RLV and Space Transport News — contest deadline eXtended]

Written by spacefaring

September 1, 2006 at 1:09 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Pretty Armadillo flight

John Carmack to arocket, the Alternate/Amateur Rocketry list, August 31:

We had a nice test tonight.

Side-by-side video from both cameras

Just the one view that looks better

A nice still

You can see that we added the 25kg “payload” as barbell weights right above our landing shocks. Might as well move the CG a bit farther away from the gimbal point…

I think we are going to manually trim out the stable tilt, rather than adding another low frequency control loop for propellant balancing.

We are going to Oklahoma this weekend for a 90+ second run, I’ll do a full update after that. This engine doesn’t have quite enough performance for the level 2 prize, but we have another injector that is more than good enough, once we get it to stop melting…

Any updates from Masten?

John Carmack

Written by spacefaring

September 1, 2006 at 10:27 am

Posted in lunar lander