Lunar Lander Challenged

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

Who will judge Lunar Lander Challenge

Six Judges With a Combined 200 years of Space Flight Experience Will Decide Who Wins the $2 Million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge presented by NASA Centennial Challenges; The Challenge Requires a Vehicle to Simulate a Trip Between the Moon’s Surface to Lunar Orbit, and Back to the Lunar Surface

October 17, 2006 08:53 PM Eastern Time
Wirefly X PRIZE Cup Announces Judges for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge on October 20-21

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The X PRIZE Foundation announced the names of the official judges for the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge presented by NASA Centennial Challenges. The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will take place at the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico on October 20-21. The Wirefly X PRIZE Cup is the world’s first space show and the only annual event where the entire family can see the next generation of spaceships up close and in the sky. Tickets are available at for the event, which takes place from 7am – 4pm on both days.

Not since the Apollo program has mankind had a working vehicle capable of landing on the moon. If we are to go back, both NASA and its industrial partners need a system that is robust and relatively inexpensive. Spectators and judges will watch as different vehicle designs compete to see which one will be the next generation lunar lander. To win the challenge, a rocket-propelled vehicle with an assigned payload must take-off vertically, climb to at least 50 meters, fly for a pre-determined minimum amount of time and land vertically on a target that is approximately 100 meters from the takeoff point. The vehicle must then fly back to the original pad under the same guidelines and land on the original launch pad. The six judges will decide which team will win the $2 million prize presented by NASA Centennial Challenges.

The 2006 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge judges are:

Ed Bock, Retiree and Former Manager of the Atlas program and of the Lunar Resource Utilization for Space Construction Study. Bock, who retired in 2000 after 39 ½ years devoted mostly to the Atlas space launch vehicle, was responsible for 40 consecutive successful launches of Atlas in five years. During his time with Atlas, Bock designed support equipment for Atlas missions with experimental lifting body reentry vehicles from Vandenberg AFB. Bock was a manager for the NASA Lunar Resource Utilization for Space Construction Study, the Shuttle/Centaur Program Office, and the Tomahawk Cruise Missile.

Richard C. Dunne, Consultant to Northrop Grumman Corporation. Dunne, who worked in public affairs at Northrop Grumman prior to his consulting position, was responsible for the company’s state and local governmental activities and liaison with regulatory agencies. He joined Grumman in 1959 and was involved in the development of the company’s highly successful Gulfstream corporate aircraft. He subsequently joined American Airlines during their transition into the jet era, returning to Grumman in 1965.

Bill Gaubatz, former head of the DC-X rocketry program. Gaubatz is a pioneer and leader in program and concept developments that have impacted national programs and policies, leading the way to today’s Personal Spaceflight Industry. Gaubatz is the Executive Vice President of the X PRIZE Foundation and the co-founder and President of SpaceAvailable LLC, a company creating virtual space adventures for science centers, museums, and theme parks. At McDonnell Douglas, he originated and managed the development of the Delta Clipper reusable spaceplane system concept. His efforts and those of his team had major impacts on US space programs and policy and on initiating today’s fledgling Personal Spaceflight industry.

John Herrington, Shuttle Astronaut and VP of Rocketplane. In 2002, Herrington flew for nearly 14 days on STS-113 Endeavour, the sixteenth Shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station. He has logged over 3,800 flight hours in over 30 different types of aircraft. He began his career at the Navy, where he was designated a Naval Aviator in March 1985. At the Navy, Herrington was designated a Patrol Plane Commander, Mission Commander, and Patrol Plane Instructor Pilot. Following completion of his first operational tour, Herrington then returned to as a Fleet Replacement Squadron Instructor Pilot. He graduated from test pilot school in 1990 and continued to perform various flight test assignments in the Navy until he was selected by NASA in April 1996.

S. Pete Worden. Center Director for NASA’s Ames Research Center. Prior to becoming the Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Dr. Worden was a Research Professor of Astronomy, Optical Sciences and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona where his primary research direction was the development of large space optics for national security and scientific purposes and near-earth asteroids. He is a recognized expert on space issues—both civil and military and he served as a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions. Dr. Worden retired in 2004 after 29 years of active service in the United States Air Force, where, among other things, he was Director of Development and Transformation for the Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA. Dr. Worden entered the Air Force in 1975 and throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, he served in every phase of development, international negotiations and implementation of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Jeff Zweber, Air Force Research Lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate. An aerospace engineer, Zweber is currently the technical advisor to the operationally responsive space access office at the Air Force Research Laboratory. Formerly the Chief Technologist for the Haley’s Scaled Demonstrator Program, he has been with the Air Force Research Laboratory for 11 years. Previously he was Area Coordinator for the National Aerospace Initiative Office of the Director for Defense, Research and Engineering. He received a Bachelors Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1990 and a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in 1995.

X PRIZE Foundation

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs in space and technology for the benefit of humanity. On October 4th, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private craft to space twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. Because of the dramatic nature of the achievement, the X PRIZE Foundation is now widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition. Based on the success of the Ansari X PRIZE, The Foundation has partnered with the Economic Development Department for the state of New Mexico to produce the X PRIZE CUP.

NASA’s Centennial Challenges

NASA’s Centennial Challenges promotes technical innovation through a novel program of prize competitions. It is designed to tap the nation’s ingenuity to make revolutionary advances to support the Vision for Space Exploration and NASA goals. NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate manages the program.

Northrop Grumman Corporation

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With more than 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.

About New Mexico’s Aerospace Industry

Clear skies, mild weather, world-renowned research labs, and a growing aerospace industry make New Mexico an ideal location for the next generation of aerospace entrepreneurs. According to, New Mexico’s cost of doing business is among the 10 lowest of the 50 states—due largely to our competitive wages and low energy costs. New Mexico State University is starting an Aerospace Engineering Program to support the emerging space sectors in New Mexico. At the same time, we offer the infrastructure that aerospace firms need with Albuquerque International Sunport, White Sands Missile Range, two Air Force bases, many community airports, and the construction of the new $10 million Southwest Regional Spaceport in Southern New Mexico. Full details can be found at

For more information please visit

The X PRIZE Foundation
Ian Murphy, 310-689-6397
Lisa Cohen, 310-395-2544


Written by Robin

October 17, 2006 at 9:45 pm

Posted in lunar lander

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