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SFS News: Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge 2008 Teams

Posted by: Rob Goldsmith - Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:31 pm
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SFS News: Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge 2008 Teams 
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Post SFS News: Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge 2008 Teams   Posted on: Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:31 pm has posted:

Nine teams have registered to compete in the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Five of these teams competed in the 2007 competition, which means that we have four new contenders in the race! Three teams have elected to remain confidential through August 31, but the other six teams are online and ready to present themselves to the world. Keep an eye out to find out who the remaining three teams are (one of which competed in last year's competition).

I nice little online ap' includes a team matchup feature found at: ... 08/matchup

The teams are:

1. Acuity Technologies
2. Armadillo
3. BonNova
4. High Expectations Rocketry
5. Paragon
6. Phoenicia
7. Seraphim Works (Coming Soon)
8. TrueZer0
9. Unreasonable Rocket

Please feel free to discuss this topic further...

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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 03, 2008 6:58 pm
Here is the lowdown :P

Acuity Technologies

Led by Robert Clark, Acuity Technologies is based in Menlo Park, California. The team is a returning competitor, and plans to compete in both Levels One and Two with their Hop & Hover Vehicles. Founded in 1992, Acuity Technologies also develops, manufactures, and supports specialized unmanned aerial systems for defense and commercial applications.

Acuity Technologies’ Aerospace Group specializes in bringing experimental aircraft and UAV systems to production-ready reliability levels through rapid design cycles and early prototyping and testing of reduced scale aircraft. Conventional aircraft design and test cycles are no longer able to keep up with the rapid change of pace in avionics, propulsion, sensors, communications, and materials technologies. By integrating existing subsystems with innovative designs which plan for future generations of components, Acuity quickly and effectively proves air vehicle concepts including ground stations, sensors, and other payloads. The Acuity "Tiger" and "Cardinal" use a hydrogen peroxide and alcohol fueled rocket system designed to hover and move vertically and horizontally under remote and autonomous control at altitudes from 0 to 100 meters and speeds from 0 to 8 m/s. The open frame keeps weight to a minimum and gives easy access to flight systems. Pump driven propellant pressurization scales well to large vehicles and long flights. The vehicle is stabilized with a six axis IMU, magnetometer, and GPS. It maneuvers autonomously and also responds to ground pilot control transmitted over a standard RC aircraft radio link. In addition to direct pilot viewing of the vehicle, 2 to 3 video cameras transmit views of the horizon and terrain below the vehicle to ground based displays for pilot assistance. Telemetry including GPS position and altitude AGL is also displayed at the pilot station. Range from the pilot to the vehicle will typically be 100 to 250 meters while the vehicle is in flight.

Armadillo Aerospace
Armadillo Aerospace, based in Mesquite Texas, is a veteran of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, as the only team to have flown a vehicle in the competition, at both the 2006 and 2007 X PRIZE Cup. Founded in 2000, they were until recently an all-volunteer crew, working towards the development of reusable rocket powered vehicles, led by John Carmack, 3D graphics pioneer and video game developer. They will be entering their MOD and QUAD vehicles into the Level One and Two competitions, respectively. In addition to their participation the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Armadillo was a contender in the Ansari X PRIZE, and has done work for the Rocket Racing League, NASA, and the Air Force. Since 2000, Armadillo has done over a hundred flight tests in a dozen different vehicles.

BonNova, a design firm in Tarzana, CA specializing in innovative invention and engineering for aerospace and all industries, is one of the veteran competitors of the Lunar Lander challenge. The rocket team, led by Allen Newcomb, was established for the sole purpose of winning the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. They currently have six members: a Chief Engineer, GNC Aerospace Engineer, Computer Engineer, Creative Director, Machinist Engineer, and Pit Crew Member. The team mascot is a rocket dog named Sky.

Newcomb has over 20 years experience in avionics and design for extreme environments, such as racecars, (brutal vibration and extreme emi), and oil wells (extreme heat). While working as an avionics engineer at SpaceDev, he designed some of the electronics and all of the Mission Control and Operations Software for CHIPSat. He also designed all of the avionics, flight software, and ground software for SpaceDev's hybrid rocket engine on Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, the winner of the Ansari X PRIZE.

High Expectations Rocketry
High Expectations is based in Moscow, Idaho, and led by Keith Stormo. With a small team of four people who have worked together on other projects, high Expectations plans to compete for the first time in both levels of the competition.

One team member is a machinist with skill in CNC manufacturing; a second team member is a professional engineer who has extensive experience programming single board computers (PLC's) and has designed remote control/operations of automated wastewater treatment systems with other members of the team. A third member of the team has extensive experience in database management, computer software, programming, remote monitoring and control over the Internet, as well as computer code development for numerically intensive applications. The fourth member of the team has been designing and building nitrous oxide and nylon hybrid rocket engines for the past five years. The craft looks like a rocket, but lands like a lander, and can be stable in flight without active attitude control. High Expectations is attempting to show that with ingenuity, major advances can be made without spending millions of dollars.

Paragon Labs, from Denver, CO, is composed of industry professionals from a number of subsystem disciplines, molded into a "skunk-works" environment to ensure rapid prototyping and development. Paragon team members have backgrounds in aerospace, manufacturing, controls design, software engineering, electronics design, custom fabrication, and program management.

The team is led by Kevin Sagis. Sagis has a wide range of experience in the field of aerospace. After graduating with a BS degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, he worked for Lockheed Martin and supported various NASA centers such as the Johnson Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center. He then founded Paragon, which has been developing aerospace technologies for the last seven years. In addition to fielding a successful sub-orbital vehicle, he has conducted numerous full design cycles and static motor firings during the development of various aerospace R&D vehicles and propulsion systems. Kevin has also served as the Launch Conducter of various mission operations requiring the oversight of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

Team Phoenicia is group of individuals in Emeryville, CA who have come together to answer the call to open up and explore the cosmos. Their first step is the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Their hope that this challenge will allow them to develop technology that is needed for the ultimate goal of landing packages on the Moon and other bodies. By building a scalable and semimodular design, Team Phoenicia is tackling the Challenge in a manner that allows the follow-on development of landers with potential commercial application.

Read Team Phoenicia’s Blog at

TrueZer0 is a four person team in Chicago, IL working towards winning the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. The team consists of a mechanical engineer, an electrical/CS engineer, and a father and son who own and operate a machine shop. For the past few years, they have worked together on a number of projects, getting larger and more complex each time. The team thinks that between the four members, they have excellent coverage of almost all aspects of the Challenge, from design through production, and hope it’s enough to win the competition.

Unreasonable Rocket
Unreasonable Rocket is developing two vehicles to compete in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge in 2008. Unreasonable Rocket is a small father and son team located in Solana Beach, CA. The team tests their vehicles in the Cohen dry lake bed or the F.A.R. Rocket Test Facilities near Cantil, CA.

Unreasonable Rocket has a long-term goal of showing that significant rocket and space flight capabilities are achievable by small teams. Unreasonable Rocket will be building two very similar vehicles, one to compete in Level 1, the other at Level 2.

If anyone knows any of these guys then feel free to invite them over for a chat :)


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