2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE Competition Attempts Scheduled

2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE Competition Attempts Scheduled

Playa Vista, CA (August 25, 2009) – The XPRIZE Foundation announced today that three teams have registered to make attempts to win the $1.65 million still available in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE. The prize program is managed by the XPRIZE Foundation as part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program. The competition is designed to accelerate technological developments supporting the commercial creation of vertical take-off and landing rockets with enhanced safety and performance.

The Challenge is divided into two levels. Level 1, requires a rocket to take off from a designated launch area; climb to a low, fixed altitude; and fly for at least 90 seconds before landing precisely on a different landing pad. The flight must then be repeated in reverse. Both flights, along with all of the necessary preparation for each, must take place within a two and a half hour period. $500,000 in prizes was initially allocated to Level 1. Last year, Armadillo Aerospace of Mesquite, Texas was awarded $350,000 for successfully completing Level 1. There remains an unclaimed award of $150,000 for second place.

The more difficult course, 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. A $1 million First Place and a $500,000 second place prize remain to be claimed by the winners of Level 2

In previous years, the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE prize money had only been available to teams who performed the required missions at a specific, single location on a particular weekend. This year, however, teams are permitted to make their prize winning attempts at a date and location of their choosing during a window that stretches through the end of October. At the end of the window, any teams that have accomplished the mission will be ranked based on the landing accuracy achieved in each of their rocket powered flights, and the prize purses will be awarded accordingly.

Qualified teams are able to register for prize-winning attempts on a first-come, first-served basis, with a small crew of judges and observers traveling to meet the team at a venue of their choosing.

Teams may submit registration forms through September 15, 2009.

Currently registered teams include:

  • Armadillo Aerospace will attempt to claim a Level 2 purse from Caddo Mills, TX, on September 12 and 13.
  • Masten Space Systems will attempt to claim purses in both levels from Mojave, CA, on September 15-16 (Level One), October 7-8 (Level Two), and October 28-29 (Level Two).
  • Unreasonable Rocket will attempt to claim purses in both levels from Cantil, CA, on Oct 30-31.

For more information about the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE, please visit http://lunarlander.xprize.org. High resolution photographs, video and other team materials are available upon request.

Northrop Grumman’s history with lunar programs dates back to the 1960s, when the company designed and produced the Apollo lunar modules that landed U.S. astronauts on the moon.   The company is looking forward to supporting NASA on its planned lunar lander, Altair, which will place four astronauts on the Moon in the 2020 timeframe and provide life support as well as a base for weeklong surface explorations. 

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

The XPRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon XPRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE. The Foundation is creating prizes in five areas: Exploration (Space and Underwater), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education and Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit www.xprize.org.

Centennial Challenges is NASA’s prize program to promote technical innovation through competitions open to all Americans. The Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE is one of seven current competitions designed to tap the nation's ingenuity in support of NASA’s goals. Centennial Challenges is managed by NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program Office.

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