NGLLC 09: Masten Qualifies for $150,000 Level 1 Prize Purse

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).

We congratulate the Masten Team for their great success today and wish them luck as they prepare their second vehicle, Xoie, for the Level 2 attempt on October 28 - 29. Photos are posted on Picasa, and we'll post video as soon as we have it in the next day or two.

Also stay tuned for Team BonNovA on Oct. 26-27 and Team Unreasonable Rocket on Oct. 30-31 -- this competition is still far from over!

UPDATE: Videos are posted!

Video of Oct. 7th Masten Flights 1 & 2 (credit: X PRIZE Foundation):

Leg 1: Downward Facing Camera on vehicle. Great view, and turn up volume for the full effect. Video credit: Masten Space Systems.

Want more? Additional Masten vehicle views are available here!

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