X Prize, Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Masten Space System’s “Xombie” in a free flight test

(IMG_1763 | jscotkin | Flickr)

Remember when Scaled Composites won the 10 million dollar X prize for SpaceShipOne? Well, that wasn’t the only X-prize. For the past 4 years, the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge has been ongoing. At stake is a total of 2 million in prize money, $350,000 of which was won last year.

So, what do they do? Teams must build rockets that climb to 50 meters, translate 50 meters, and set down. It must then do the same thing again, returning as close to the original launch point as possible. There are two levels of competition, the difference mainly being the amount of time the rocket must spend airborne. To win Level 1, the rocket must spend 90 seconds in the air, and to win Level 2, the rocket must spend 180 seconds in the air. (A better and more thorough explanation can be found at the X Prize blog)

Anyways, Armadillo Aerospace went for level 2, a few days back, and made it after 4 long years trying. Flight 1. Flight 2. Assuming no other team gets closer to the X in the next few months, they’ll take home a $1 million dollar prize. A great gallery of pictures from Armadillo’s attempt can be found here.

Anyways, today Masten Space Systems is competing for 2nd place in the level 1 challenge. There isn’t a live feed, but you can follow it on twitter with #NGLLC. During Armadillo’s attempt, they posted plenty of pictures, so it’s sure to be a great show.

For a preview, a video of Masten’s first free-flight test can be found here.

Follow the action on Twitter using #NGLLC