Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge opens, NASA sponsors $2 million prize

Los Angeles, 8 Feb. 2007. X Prize has announced registration dates and rules changes for the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, which will require a vehicle to simulate trips between the moon's surface and lunar orbit.

Feb 8th, 2007

Los Angeles, 8 Feb. 2007. X Prize has announced registration dates and rules changes for the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, which will require a vehicle to simulate trips between the moon's surface and lunar orbit.

NASA, which signed a Space Act Agreement with X Prize before the first year's competition for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge in 2006, will once again fund the prizes through its Centennial Challenges program.

Early bird registration for the 2007 competition lasts until Feb. 28. Regular registration ends March 31, and the final day for late registration is April 30.

The biggest change in the rules will permit each team to repair its spacecraft mid-mission, as long as all tools and supplies are included on the vehicle.

The Competition is divided into two levels. Level 1 requires a rocket to take off from a designated launch area, rocket up to 150 feet (50 meters) altitude, then hover for 90 seconds while landing precisely on a landing pad 100 meters away. The flight must then be repeated in reverse -- and both flights, along with all of the necessary preparation for each, must take place within a two-and-a-half-hour period. The more difficult course, Level 2, requires the rocket to hover for twice as long before landing precisely on a simulated lunar surface, packed with craters and boulders to mimic actual lunar terrain. The hover times are calculated so that the Level 2 mission closely simulates the power needed to perform the real lunar mission.

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will take place this October in New Mexico at the Wirefly X Prize Cup. Final date and time to be announced.

All teams must be 90 percent privately funded, have the proper permits and be able to operate safely near the large crowds expected at the Wirefly X Prize Cup, which is the only annual event where the entire family can see the next generation of spaceships up close and in the sky.

NASA's Centennial Challenges program promotes technical innovation through prize competitions. The similar mission of X Prize is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity using a philanthropy model based on competition. Plans to return to the moon during the next decade are driving NASA's interest in the lunar challenge.

In 2004, the Ansari X Prize inspired 26 teams from seven nations to compete in building the first privately-funded spacecraft. In the process, the teams spent a combined $100 million-plus on critical research and development in an effort to win the prize. The competition proved that offering a prize is an effective, efficient and economical model for acceleration breakthroughs in science and technology. Based on that success, the X Prize Foundation is now expanding to offer more prizes in the space industry, as well as in the areas of health, energy, transportation and education.

For more information on the X Prize Foundation visit http://www.xprize.org.

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