Masten Space Systems, fresh from a million-dollar win in the NASA-sponsored Lunar Lander X-Prize Challenge, hopes to use its vertical-takeoff-and-landing rocket technology to launch a commercial enterprise by the middle of next year.
California-based Masten Space Systems' Xoie rocket prototype has won a million-dollar prize from NASA, edging out its closest competitor by just a couple of feet.
Read public comments about the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.
It's a high-stakes horse race to the finish line of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge this week, and the winner will claim $1,000,000 in prize winnings.
Five days from now, a bunch of no-longer-amateur rocketeers are going to be at least $1.15 million richer, thanks to a NASA-backed contest for lunar lander prototypes. But the identity of the winners is still up in the air.
NASA has come up with is something it calls its Centennial Challenges. These are a series of prizes for technological achievement in areas such as beamed power, lunar landers and the extraction of oxygen from lunar regolith (the crushed rock that passes for soil on the moon). The point is to spur technological development using the twin lures of hard cash and the kudos of being officially recognized as cleverer than your peers.
Masten Space Systems' Xombie rocket has prevailed in its second attempt to qualify for a $150,000 rocket prize from NASA. The first attempt, back on Sept. 16, ended at the halfway point of the required round trip due to an engine leak, but today the rocket went the full distance.
Since 2006 the NASA Centennial Challenges have spurred development for initiatives such as lunar landers, regolith excavation and general aviation technology. The purses range from $200,000 to $2 million, and many prizes so far have been unclaimed because no entry has met the admittedly formidable challenges.
Ten teams are gearing up for a fall competition to present a vehicle of their own design that can simulate trips between the moon's surface and lunar orbit.
Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport, has installed three launch pads for NASA’s 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Centennial Challenge, which is administered by the X PRIZE Foundation to spur innovation and technology development.