Lunar Lander Challenged

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

Archive for October 2006

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

Attention Space Bargain Shoppers!

If you bought a “Fly Your Stuff” package on Genesis II and naturally assumed the launch would be delayed and you’d have plenty of time to deliver your Stuff to Bigelow Aerospace HQ in Las Vegas — check the countdown clock at Fly Your Stuff.

Bigelow Aerospace publicist Chris Reed says a few payload spots are still available even at this late hour. Can you believe that? The space bargain of the century is not quite sold out, only two days before the offer expires.

For only $295, you can send a photo — or an item no bigger than a golf ball, lighter than an ounce, no powders or magnets or liquids or power-operated devices (darn), but a real something-or-other — to space for what might be quite a long stay in Earth orbit, eventually to be part of a brief light show when Genesis II disintegrates upon reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

This is a very low price point and it even comes with a very good Money Back Guarantee: If you don’t get a picture of your Stuff floating around inside Genesis II from orbit within 90 days, you get your money back. Please name one other space launch service that compares to this offer in any way.

Recent space traveler Anousheh Ansari told Oprah the other day that she would agree to pay her Russian space transportation provider even if the trip was one-way.

Space Services Inc. now offers the Earth Return service, a brief joyride for cremains, touching the edge of space then recovered on Earth a few miles away if all goes as planned. No guarantees, no money-back offers, and the list price is $495. Sorry but this does not grab the space bargain-shopper in me. Honestly, what thrifty space bargain shopper would go for this when there’s still space available on Genesis II?

David Livingston, host and creator of tried to book an orbital flight for the ashes of his beloved dog Biscuit with Space Services Inc. but was turned down because the company didn’t want to send dog cremains on the same flight with famous human cremains like James Doohan (Star Trek’s Scotty) and astronaut Gordon Cooper.

Some Biscuit ashes do have a ride scheduled on Space Services Inc.’s Earth Return service (now predicted to fly January 2007 with Up Aerospace), but the best ride (for the price) for what remains of Biscuit will be in the vintage lipstick case pictured here.

Fly your stuff

Yes, ashes are “powder,” and they do break the Fly Your Stuff rules just a little… but Bigelow Aerospace will make an exception for Biscuit so long as the ashes are safely encapsulated in this space-safe vintage lipstick case.

Who doesn’t like a space program that’s willing to break a rule now and then…?

Written by spacefaring

October 29, 2006 at 11:22 pm

Posted in lunar lander eXclusive / nagging questions

Despite Setbacks, Teams Set Sights On Lunar Lander Purse – By Leonard David, Senior Space Writer posted: 27 October 2006 11:40 am ET ~ This story is a good wrap-up of Lunar Lander Challenge, although it still leaves some questions unanswered and mysteries unsolved. For instance:

Will there ever be an X Prize Cup webcast archive at

Why do the rules for Lunar Lander Challenge prohibit propellants with Hydrogen Peroxide in concentrations above 70 percent, but RocketMan can launch himself only a few feet away from the crowd with the banned fuel?

Why did Armadillo’s lander legs collapse on contact? Just a careless design flaw? Or was it a sportsmanlike gesture, a way of winning the day without ending the contest …? They will never ever admit to such a thing, but I have my suspicions…

Written by spacefaring

October 27, 2006 at 6:52 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Astounding Video from Armadillo

Matthew “Flash” Ross has posted a great collection of videos and stills from X Prize Cup to the Armadillo Aerospace media archive.

Have fun!

Written by spacefaring

October 26, 2006 at 9:05 am

Posted in lunar lander

True stories of Lunar Lander Challenge (plus news reports)

What really happened:

X Prize Cup 2006 — Armadillo Aerospace News update October 23 2006

X-Prize Cup — Selenian Boondocks by Jon Goff October 24 2006

[exclusive media coverage at, and not mentioned here]

News archive collection, still in progress: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by spacefaring

October 25, 2006 at 9:33 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Future Girl

Megan Miller tours the 2006 Wirefly X Prize Cup for …

Written by spacefaring

October 25, 2006 at 2:48 pm

Posted in lunar lander

X Prize Cup missing video

X Prize Cup on-demand video page at is stuck at last Friday’s highlights, and still looks like it did three weeks ago. Matt at Armadillo is taking an awfully long time to post the team’s videos of Pixel’s flights — one camera was placed midway in the flight path and recorded the view up the rocket nozzle. A pirate videographer who even snagged a guerilla interview with Anousheh Ansari found his digital media had gone missing at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, now playing on YouTube channel kdavidian (by Ken Davidian, NASA contractor): Flight of Armadillo Aerospace’s Pixel quad vehicle to qualify for its FAA-AST experimental permit, Thursday, 19 October 2006.

Written by spacefaring

October 25, 2006 at 11:15 am

Posted in lunar lander

Lunar Lander Challenge Win

The trouble with divining the future by dowsing is that you must be very specific about the question.

The “Yes” answer to the question “Will Armadillo win Lunar Lander Challenge Level 1 tomorrow?” turned out to be slightly misleading because the question did not specifically ask about the prize money. But the answer wasn’t wrong because Armadillo did win. Pixel flew three beautiful one-way flights, did not crash and barely burned.

Armadillo Lunar Lander Challenge team and X Prize leaders

Tommy, Matt, Phil, Joseph, Peter, James, John, Russ, Neil (not pictured) and Bob

Other eXciting teams demonstrated their rocket technology prowess and nothing blew up. X Prize Cup is getting better every year.

Written by spacefaring

October 21, 2006 at 6:45 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Armadillo will win Lunar Lander Challenge Level 1 tomorrow

An interesting special attraction of the International Symposium on Personal Spaceflight was the Dowsing Workshop.

According to divination conducted with copper L-Rods purchased from the Farm and Ranch Museum gift shop, Armadillo will win Level 1 of Lunar Lander Challenge tomorrow, but will not win Level 2.

Written by spacefaring

October 20, 2006 at 10:01 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Good advice

(On the advice of a certain person who works at a somewhat secretive spaceship company in the low-cost spaceship capital of the world, I have decided to stop doing shoddy journalism and pesky critiques of fledging space prizes and go try to win one myself.

…which is actually how I got started here in the first place.)

Written by spacefaring

October 20, 2006 at 8:13 pm

Posted in lunar lander