Friday, January 2, 2009

Catch-Up: 2008 Lunar Lander Challenge

Last year's Lunar Lander Challenge was apparently quite the event! For those of you who aren't familiar with the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, it's an annual event put on by the X-Prize Foundation challenging companies to create a viable lunar lander type vehicle that can perform certain tasks. This alone has little to do with space tourism. However, every year, one of the most viable entrants is Armadillo Aerospace, a small company dedicated to the advancement of technologies that could be of use in space tourism.

This was the third year of the challenge. In 2006 and 2007, there were no winners, because nobody was able to complete the required tasks. Specifically, there are two challenges. The level 1 challenge, for $350,000 requires a vehicle to lift off, travel laterally to a specified location, land, lift off again, make a return trip, and land, all within a specified amount of time. The level 2 challenge, for $1,000,000, requires additional tasks.

Well, the results are in, and this year, Armadillo Aerospace won the level 1 challenge! They also made an unsuccessful attempt at the level 2 challenge, but indicated they would try again this year. Congratulations to them and to Widget, their funny little armadillo mascot.

Hey, and I found this awesome picture of Armadillo's vehicle during the level 1 challenge:

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

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