Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Monday, November 02, 2009

NASA and X Prize Announce Winners of Lunar Lander Challenge

Well the Lunar Lander Challenge has been met. I hope you got to see some of the action.
- LRK -
2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge

It is official, see the NASA announcement.
- LRK -

Nov. 02, 2009

Sonja Alexander
Headquarters, Washington
RELEASE: 09-258


WASHINGTON -- NASA will award $1.65 million in prize money Thursday to a pair of innovative aerospace companies that successfully simulated landing a spacecraft on the moon and lifting off again.

NASA's Centennial Challenges program will give a $1 million first prize to Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif., and a $500,000 second prize to Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Tex., for their Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge flights. The competition was managed by the X PRIZE Foundation. The Northrop Grumman Corporation is a commercial sponsor that provided operating funds for the contest to the X PRIZE Foundation.

An awards ceremony for the winning teams will be held at noon on Nov. 5 in room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington.
Journalists should contact Sonja Alexander at 202-358-1761 for more information about the ceremony.

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge involves building and flying a rocket-powered vehicle that simulates the flight of a vehicle on the moon. The lander must take off vertically then travel horizontally, flying a mission profile designed to demonstrate both power and control before landing accurately at another spot. The same vehicle then must take off again, travel horizontally back to its original takeoff point and land successfully, all within a two-hour-and-15-minute time period.

The challenge requires exacting control and navigation, as well as precise control of engine thrust, all done automatically. The rocket's engine must be started twice in a short time with no ground servicing other than refueling. This represents the technical challenges involved in operating a reusable vehicle that could land on the moon.

The prize purse is divided into first and second prizes for Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 requires a flight duration of at least 90 seconds on each flight and Level 2 requires a duration of at least 180
seconds. One of the landings for a Level 2 attempt must be made on a simulated lunar terrain with rocks and craters.

Masten Space Systems met the Level 2 requirements by achieving accurate landings and captured the first place prize during flights of their "Xoie" (pronounced "Zoey") vehicle Oct. 30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Masten also claimed a $150,000 prize as part of the Level 1 competition.

Armadillo Aerospace was the first team to qualify for the Level 2 prize with successful flights of its Scorpius rocket Sept. 12 in Caddo Mills, Tex. Armadillo placed second in the Level 2 competition, earning a $500,000 prize.

The average landing accuracy determined which teams would receive first and second place prizes. The Masten team achieved an average accuracy of 7.5 inches while Armadillo Aerospace's average accuracy was 34 inches.

The events of the past two months have brought the four-year Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge to a conclusion. All $2 million in prize money has been awarded.

"The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge has had its intended impact, with impressive performances by multiple teams representing a new generation of aerospace entrepreneurs" said Andrew Petro, NASA's Centennial Challenge program manager at NASA Headquarters in
Washington. "These companies have demonstrated reusable vehicles with rapid turnaround and a surprising degree of precision in flight, and they have done all this at a much lower cost than many thought possible."

Four teams had been in pursuit of the 2009 Lunar Lander Challenge prizes during the competition that opened in July. The BonNova team dropped out of the competition last week. Unreasonable Rocket, a father-and-son team from Solana Beach, Calif., conducted flight
attempts during the final days of the competition but did not complete any qualifying flights.

In the Level 1 competition, Armadillo Aerospace previously claimed the first place prize of $350,000 in 2008. Masten Space Systems qualified for the remaining second place prize on Oct. 7, 2009, with an average landing accuracy of 6.3 inches. Because there were no other qualifying Level 1 flights this year, the Masten team will receive the second place prize of $150,000.

NASA's Centennial Challenges program's goals are to drive progress in aerospace technology that is of value to NASA's missions; encourage participation of independent teams, individual inventors, student groups and private companies of all sizes in aerospace research and development; and find innovative solutions to technical challenges through competition and cooperation.

The Northop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge is one of six Centennial Challenges managed by NASA's Innovative Partnership Program. The competition was managed for NASA at no cost to the taxpayer by the X PRIZE Foundation under a Space Act Agreement. NASA provided all of the prize funds.

For more information on Centennial Challenges, visit:

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

One more time in case you missed it.
- LRK -

Masten qualifies for Level2 of Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge
From: xprize | October 31, 2009 | 216 views
On Oct 30, 2009, Team Masten qualified for Level 2 of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Hear what Dave Masten, Team Leader and CEO of Masten Space Systems felt like after successfully putting Xoieon the trailer at the end of Flight #2. Find out more at:

If you are still with me and think rocket science is easy, just read some of the Masten Space Systems story here.
- LRK 0

Masten Space Systems Qualifies for $1 Million Prize admin on 10/30/2009 at 2:01 pm — General —Masten Space Systems Qualifies for $1 Million Prize FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Mojave, California – October 30, 2009 – Masten Space Systems successfully qualified for first place in Level Two of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Wednesday. Flying a brand new vehicle named XA-0.1E (nicknamed Xoie), Masten demonstrated their ability to
build, debug and fly a vehicle on a very short timeline.

750-3 Engine Module Development Update jongoff on 10/10/2009 at 4:49 am — General —
(This is a combination of Joel’s ARocket post and some more details from me — Jon)

750-3 Engine Development
At the time of my last detailed update, back in June, we had just flown our 60 second hover on our first aluminum chamber (the -2AS). A while after the flight, we disassembled the engine, and noticed that a critical weld joint had cracked and was leaking a little. The chamber also showed some sign of thermal warping. It hadn’t buckled, but it looked like it was getting hotter than we wanted. Shortly thereafter, the brazed aluminum chamber (the -2AB) also showed similar problems after an even smaller number of firings. We had never had an engine actually buckle in flight, and weren’t sure if it would damage other hardware, so we decided it was time to revisit our cooling design.

The end result was that we were able to come up with a cooling channel geometry that looked substantially better than our old geometry, but with only 40% the original pressure drop. When we measured the pressure drop, that part of the calculation was within a few psi of what the model predicted, though the thermal stuff is harder to model.
In addition to the change in cooling channel geometry, I had also thinned out the wall substantially, rolling all those changes into two aluminum 750-3 chambers.

Unfortunately we ran into a buckling issues on these two engines. The first aluminum one failed due to some debris (a shard from an igniter o-ring) blocking the IPA injector ring in one section, leading to mixture ratio excursions and hot spots. The second one failed between firings, which led us to make some changes to make our shutdown sequence more thermally benign.


Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
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Innovative Partnership Program

Armadillo Aerospace Claim Level 2 NGLLC Prize
Published By Rob GoldsmithOn: 13 September 2009 9:02 AM CEST

Armadillo Aerospace have officially completed the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Level 2, on a rainy day at Caddo Mills, Texas. Reports came in from various locations during the day and spectators posted videos and images using social networking tools such
as Twitter. The Space Fellowship earlier reporting that the team were getting ready to fly.

Level 2 requires the rocket to fly for 180 seconds before landing precisely on a simulated lunar surface constructed with craters and boulders. The minimum flight times are calculated so that the Level 2 mission closely simulates the power needed to perform a real descent from lunar orbit down to the surface of the Moon. First place is a prize of $1 million while second is $500,000.

Earlier on in the day John Carmack (Team Leader) had made jokes about the wet weather, saying “at least we don’t have to worry about grassfires today” As the rain eased away a window was expected to appear in which the team would attempt to win the prize. The team had a pre-flight meeting and got ready, Peter Diamandis posting “Team Armadillo on the move… rolling out to launchpad!“. The vehicle for level 2 is called Scorpious or the Super MOD.

The team completed the first flight, John Carmack on the radio saying “good nominal flight, one down, one to go“. The vehicle was refuelled and flight preparations were again underway. At 6.22pm EDT there was a problem with the igniter, however, eight minutes later it was reported
that the problem was a software glitch and that the second leg had been flown successfully.

To complete the prize the team now needed to prep the vehicle and return to the finish line, they did it. Soon afterwards judges announced that Armadillo Aerospace had officially been confirmed as completing both flights within the rules.

Masten Space Systems Qualifies for $1 Million Prize
admin on 10/30/2009 at 2:01 pm

Mojave, California – October 30, 2009 – Masten Space Systems successfully qualified for first place in Level Two of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Wednesday. Flying a brand new vehicle named XA-0.1E (nicknamed Xoie), Masten demonstrated their ability to
build, debug and fly a vehicle on a very short timeline.
“To come from not flying at all last year to qualifying for level one AND level two of the LLC this year shows how far our technology has progressed,” Masten Space Systems CEO David Masten said. “After a short vacation we will start modifying Xoie for commercial payloads and begin work on Xoie’s successor.”

Xoie is a larger, lightweight version of Masten’s Level One vehicle Xombie and features an aluminum structure, larger tanks and a more powerful engine. Originally designed for only 750 pounds of thrust, Xoie’s engine produces over 1000 pounds of thrust. “Our engines go to 11! Now we go build the 2500 pound version,” stated MSS propulsion engineer Jonathan Goff. A visibly exhausted but happy Ian Garcia, guidance engineer, said, “We wrote our flight control system from scratch and it just does what I tell it to do! Making it work for supersonic flight is going to be a fun challenge.”

The Launch Pad

NGLLC 09: Masten Qualifies for $150,000 Level 1 Prize Purse 10/07/2009 12:51:00 PM
Masten Space Systems successfully flew their Xombie vehicle today, completing two flights and meeting the Level 1 requirements of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.

Masten had a previous attempt on September 16, 2009, but did not complete the second flight due to engine damage. Masten went back to their workshop and solved the engine problem, tested it over the last several weeks and today flew an aluminum engine, making this the first
known flight of such an engine on a reusable launch vehicle (Armadillo Aerospace also flew a aluminum engine for their September 12, 2009 flight, although also utilized a graphite liner).

Amidst chants of "Fly Xombie, fly!", the first flight lasted about 93 seconds and the vehicle landed ~20 cm from the center of the pad; almost a perfect repeat of their first NGLLC flight. The second flight lasted 91 seconds and the vehicle landed 11 cm from the center of the pad -- an impressive feat indeed (all numbers preliminary until judges declare them official).




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