Lunar Lander Challenged

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

Why not fly at X Prize Cup

It’s news around here when Lunar Lander Challenge gets a comment that’s not from a spambot.

Commenting on Lunar Lander paperwork-challenged

# John Carmack Says:
October 11th, 2006 at 1:00 am e

That isn’t a very good characterization. I doubt anyone from Masten would disagree with the following statement:

They do not have an experimental permit yet, but that isn’t the gating factor. The gating factor is that the technical development of the vehicle isn’t completed.

Lets not make paperwork a scapegoat. The paperwork is indeed a problem, and I have a big list of gripes about the process, but it is only about 25% of the effort. The remaining 75% of the problems are technical.

Even if they had the paperwork and they felt the technical development actually was complete, you shouldn’t expect it to work correctly on an initial attempt at flight.

I was very much hoping to see at least a tethered demo flight, so I am dissapointed about this.

John Carmack

# Robin Says:
October 11th, 2006 at 8:53 am e

Masten Space didn’t claim it would work correctly on the first flight, they just said they could probably fly it.

But the contest rule that says you have to do two successful qualifying flights to compete on the day is the paperwork that will keep them from flying in New Mexico.

Does Armadillo have its experimental permit?

Will you fly Pixel and/or Texel next week?

Update 12:47 pm, Dave Masten responds in comments. Er, comment.


Written by Robin

October 11, 2006 at 9:06 am

Posted in lunar lander

4 Responses

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  1. XA-0.1 is just about ready to fly, we’ve overcome the last of the major known technical obstacles to starting flight tests. It is only logistics and time keeping us from flying, say tomorrow. Of course, we are not about to do flight tests in front of thousands of spectators. So, I think the fair characterization is “We’re ready to fly, but we haven’t flown it yet, and we’re not about to start at the Cup”.

    David Masten

    David Masten

    October 11, 2006 at 12:37 pm

  2. >Does Armadillo have its experimental permit?

    No. AST just got 500 megs more “paperwork” from us a couple days ago. It isn’t inconceivable that they may decide not to grant it. Dozens of test flights carry no weight with them whatsoever.

    > Will you fly Pixel and/or Texel next week?

    We flew Pixel today for a perfect 90+ second flight with no injector erosion at all (on an aluminum one!). We are trying for 180 seconds tomorrow. We have the Isp, the only question is if the engine will hold together.

    Flying at the cup is gated on the experimental permit. I suppose we might be able to do a tethered demo flight without it, but I’m certainly not going to pay for the insurance, consumables, and transport for a non-prize flight.

    John Carmack

    John Carmack

    October 11, 2006 at 10:52 pm

  3. Oy.


    October 11, 2006 at 11:04 pm

  4. Sounds like to much at stake to fly in public at a major event until all the bugs are worked out. A major failure although spectacular to witness, would not look good at an event like this. And the safety issues cannot be ignored. Masten must consider liability issues and could result in more FED regulations etc… Give Masten credit for being as up front as he is. Been flying HPR for years rushing into something like this at the last second will most likely end in a diaster.

    Retro. . .

    Doug Gard

    October 12, 2006 at 3:44 am

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