2009 Lunar Lander Challenge

In late October, the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge drew to a close. History was made several times over: the first prize awarded in that competition, the largest prize to date as part of NASA's Centennial Challenges, the first attempt at Level Two of that competition, the first time with multiple vehicles flying at the event. But before that event was finished, we at the X PRIZE Foundation were already turning our eyes towards 2009, with a goal of offering the remaining prize money in the most fair and most sustainable way possible.

In the first two years of competition, the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge was tied to a larger event called the "X PRIZE Cup," an educational exposition bringing crowds in contact with rockets and with the entrepreneurial and inventive teams who design and operate them. In 2008, there was no X PRIZE Cup, so the Challenge was offered as a stand alone event. In all three years, the Challenge was offered at great expense to the X PRIZE Foundation, which receives no funding from NASA to conduct this competition.

Moving forward, the concept of conducting a large common event at which all teams fly their vehicles is likely not financially sustainable for the Foundation. Additionally, the conduct of such an event imposes non-negligible expenses on our teams, who must not only transport themselves and their vehicles to the venue for the competition, but who also must complete their design process, their regulatory paperwork, and their procurement of insurance with not only their own "home facility" but also the competition venue in mind. As such, the fairest and most sustainable model may prove to be one where each team plays host to a crew of Judges and X PRIZE personnel at a facility of their choice.

Although the date of October is not written into the rules, we understand that there is an expectation among our teams that future attempts to win the prize will occur late in each calendar year. Accordingly, the X PRIZE Foundation is committed to providing all teams a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the 2009 contest, and to adjust to any changes made to the way the prize is offered.

The X PRIZE Foundation is committed to conducting the 2009 LLC in the fairest manner possible. The X PRIZE Foundation assures teams that all key decisions with regard to the timing, structure, and judging of this competition will be done in an open and fair manner by individuals with no conflicts of interest. As such, all final decisions about the 2009 event will be made by the Foundation's Senior Director for Space Projects, William Pomerantz, and Vice President for Prize Management, Cristin Lindsay, neither of whom have any financial relationship with any of the LLC teams. Additionally, any final decision will be made in conjunction with our partners at NASA. All X PRIZE and Judging staff who have an affiliation with any team, including secondary affiliations through financial investment in institutions who have business relationships with a team, will be recused from key decisions through the lifetime of the competition.

We look forward to working with all of our teams, and wish them all the best of luck as they pursue the remaining $1.65MM in prize money available as part of the Lunar Lander Challenge.

- William Pomerantz and Peter Diamandis

Chris said...

Thanks to the X PRIZE Foundation for two great X PRIZE Cup events!

Rob Jellinghaus said...

Well done, William and Peter. This addresses many of the concerns I shared around the information available until your post. Thank you.

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