Lunar Lander Challenged

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

alt X Prize Cup coverage?

Possible amateur video coverage via YouTube channel spaceracenews, depending on availability of internet connection to personal spaceflight enthusiasts not affiliated with Space.com.

Written by Robin

October 19, 2006 at 11:34 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Lunar Lander Challenge Level 1/ Wirefly X Prize Cup Webcast

Written by Robin

October 19, 2006 at 11:30 pm

Posted in lunar lander

What the ??!! NASA TV vs X Prize over webcast

NASA Watch says:

Editor’s update: According to NASA sources, X Prize Cup has refused to allow NASA to webcast any of the event’s activities. As a result of this refusal, NASA has now decided to not air any X Prize activity on NASA TV. NASA Public Affairs is working to get me more information on this evolving situation. Stay tuned.

You would think that these sort of issues would have been settled some time ago – not a day or so before the competition. This all goes back to the Space Act Agreement that was signed between NASA and the X Prize Foundation. Apparently all parties within and outside of NASA were not on the same page. As it stands, the X Prize Cup loses a substantial free distribution of video of the event – an event which could have been seen world wide – unless they can come to some agreement with NASA – or find satellite services – overnight.

The way that the X Prize Cup folks wanted things to go was simply unfair i.e. to expect NASA pay for satellite distribution – and give them visibility – yet not be able to air the exact same content (which exists because of NASA prize sponsorship in the first place) on the web where far more people (taxpayers) are likely to see it. As such, I reluctantly agree with NASA’s decision not to air the X Prize Cup events on NASA TV – unless X Prize changes their mind and allows NASA to present everything online. X Prize can’t have it both ways.

Alas, the next time NASA signs one of these agreements, someone needs to do a sanity check ahead of time – before they sign on the dotted line.

Written by Robin

October 19, 2006 at 10:56 pm

Posted in lunar lander

Armadillo is Go for Lunar Lander Challenge

Written by Robin

October 19, 2006 at 10:00 pm

Posted in lunar lander

eXtremely amateur video / X Prize Cup sneak peek

Team Armadillo‘s pre-qualifying flight was cancelled yesterday on account of rain, so here’s hoping for clear skies and calm winds today.

Too bad there’s not a Horizontal Rocket Challenge, or these guys might have a chance: The Orion Propulsion after-hours hobby team led by Tim Pickens shows off the Orion trailer, the Pickens family vintage rocket bikes, and the brand new Rocket Truck sponsored by Huntsville, Alabama-area companies Orion Propulsion and Miltec.

White & Nerdy by “Weird Al” Yankovic

Written by Robin

October 19, 2006 at 1:16 am

Posted in lunar lander

Beyond Lunar Lander Challenge

Space traveler hopes dream come true not once-in-a-lifetime experience, an Associated Press Interview today with original X Prize benefactor Anousheh Ansari includes this inspirational tidbit:

She said her family plans to play a major part in financing further X Prizes, with the next one possibly rewarding a privately funded lunar lander or orbital flight.

Written by Robin

October 18, 2006 at 11:17 pm

Posted in lunar lander

It’s all up to the FAA

Reality check from Flight International: FAA could call halt to NASA Lunar Lander Challenge.

A flight test tomorrow will determine if Armadillo gets the go-ahead to fly for the prizes.

Written by Robin

October 18, 2006 at 9:52 am

Posted in lunar lander

Things looking up for Armadillo Lunar Lander Challenge bids

When LiveScience blogger (and senior Space.com writer) Leonard David went to sleep last night, there was some concern that Armadillo’s Lunar Lander Challenge vehicles Pixel and Texel had encountered difficulty crossing the Texas border.

But — not to worry, the Armadillo team was seen at breakfast this morning in the coffee shop of a Las Cruces motel.

And the news is better than eXpected: There is still a chance that they’ll fly in both categories: Level 1 (sometimes known as Vertical Lander Challenge), the 90-second hover and translation, and also Level 2 (always known as Lunar Lander Challenge), which requires 180 seconds hover time and landing on a simulated lunar surface.

“We plan to fly Level 1 on Friday morning,” team leader John Carmack revealed. “Then Friday afternoon we’ll do the pre-qualifying flight for Level 2. If that’s successful, we’ll go for Level 2 on Saturday.”

If they succeed at both levels, Armadillo will take home a total of $1.35 million. Level 1 first prize is $350,000 and Level 2 is $1 million.

Written by Robin

October 18, 2006 at 7:40 am

Posted in lunar lander

Personal Spaceflight celebrity news

Businessmen Turn Eyes to the Skies and Space Travel Meeting Brings some Star Power by Jose Medina, Las Cruces Sun-News

Space tourism prophets predict profits – The New Space Race by Alan Boyle, MSNBC.com

Wirefly X Prize Cup Gets Ready to Rumble – Leonard David’s LiveScience blog


Former X Prize contender(s) plans new spaceships
NewScientist.com news service, Kelly Young, Las Cruces, 22:44 17 October 2006

Written by Robin

October 17, 2006 at 10:03 pm

Posted in lunar lander

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 http://www.xprizecup.com 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.
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Written by Robin

October 17, 2006 at 9:45 pm

Posted in lunar lander