NGLLC 09: Masten Results, 1st attempt

Team Masten made their first attempt and the Level One Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge today, making them just the third team to do so. After an intense week of last preparations, the crew got started early this morning with a 5:30 safety briefing, an official competition window start time around 9:15am, and take-off for their first flight about an hour later.

From a scoring perspective, Masten's first flight was a true beauty. Xombie (their rocket vehicle) remained in the air for 93 seconds, surpassing the required 90 second. The vehicle landed with about 17.5 cm of the center of the pad--extremely encouraging, as landing accuracy will be used to break any ties in this competition. The flight looked really beautiful to staff and observers.

However, upon post-landing inspection, team Masten noticed a leak in their regeneratively-cooled engine chamber. Rather than risk losing a vehicle, they decided to call it a day. They'll go back, troubleshoot the problem, and try again in their October windows. Their next attempt is scheduled for October 7-8.

Team leader Dave Masten notes via Twitter: "We know the prob[lem] and will try again in a few weeks." Here's hoping that's true.

Kudos to Masten for a great performance today, and for keeping level heads and making a wise decision to fully troubleshoot the problem rather than to press onward with another flight today. As noted by Armadillo's Phil Eaton: "Good choice guys! Use up your days, not your vehicles ... [Masten is ]making the right choice in times like this. That makes for a bright future... That's what the customer wants to see!"
It was a great attempt and success seems very likely in October!

Best of luck to Masten, and to all of our other teams!


Masten Space System's XA-0.1B rocket, nicknamed 'Xombie', sits only a few centimeters off the center of the landing pad after a flight made in an attempt to win Level One of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Photo Credit: A. Stiles, X PRIZE Foundation

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