This past weekend, as regular readers are aware, Armadillo Aerospace made an attempt to complete the Level Two Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge mission, which requires two 180-second rocket powered flights within two hour and fifteen minute time period, as well as the use of a simulated lunar surface as a landing pad. After several hours of rain delay, Armadillo accomplished the job beautifully! You can see some rough video of their successful flight here-—much more will be coming shortly.
Armadillo’s success means that we are guaranteed to give out at least the $1 million Level Two, First Place prize this year. We still have several other teams signed up to compete for additional prize money. With successful attempts, they could claim the Level One, Second Place Prize ($150,000); the Level Two, Second Place Prize ($500,000); or even tie or surpass Armadillo in the running for Level Two, First Place Prize ($1,000,000).
New applications for 2009 attempts are being accepted through the close of business tomorrow. As of now, we already have announced 4 additional attempts by two additional teams:
- 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.
These teams and others were out eagerly testing even as Armadillo was conducting their flight attempts. Team Masten--which has a window coming up just two days from now--conducted two successful ~100 second flights this Sunday, demonstrating the flight duration requirements for Level One of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.
Masten Sept 13th, Flight #2
You can follow the action right here on the Launch Pad, or on Twitter via the @NGLLC09 account. As with Armadillo's attempt, we'll be collecting high quality video for rapid release after the flights, and will be tweeting and sending out pictures as often as possible during the attempts themselves. If you are tweeting about the competition, please use the #NGLLC hashtag!
We are extremely grateful to NASA's Centennial Challenges, Northrop Grumman, Spaceport America (which played host to the first three years of this event), and to all of our teams and fans for their support in this prize program. The impact our nation’s space program will be incredibly positive, and it is wonderful to be making such an impact with the help of such fantastic partners.