Headlines > News > X PRIZE Foundation and NASA offer $2.5 million Lunar Lander Challenge

X PRIZE Foundation and NASA offer $2.5 million Lunar Lander Challenge

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri May 5, 2006 5:15 pm
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Competition to take place at the 2006 X PRIZE Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico
NASA’s Deputy Administrator Shana Dale announced during a speech at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference today that the first multimillion dollar NASA Centennial Challenge will be managed by the X PRIZE Foundation. X PRIZE Chairman Dr. Peter H. Diamandis presented the final rules and prize purse and officially opened the competition for team registration.

NASA and the X PRIZE Foundation have signed a Space Act Agreement to formalize their collaboration on the Lunar Lander Challenge. The Space Act Agreement states that the X PRIZE Foundation, which provided the catalyst for the recent breakthroughs in private spaceflight companies with the Ansari X PRIZE, will administer and execute the competitions at no cost to NASA, with NASA providing prize funding to the winning contestants.

The $2.5M Lunar Lander Challenge will require a vehicle to simulate a trip between the Moon’s surface, to lunar orbit and back to the lunar surface.

“NASA’s exploration vision calls for putting humans back on the moon in the next decade. The vehicles to land on the moon no longer exist,” said Diamandis. “We believe that entrepreneurial companies can build these lunar spaceships, and a Lunar Lander Challenge can stimulate the required technology in an efficient and rapid fashion. We look forward to our partnership with NASA and to awarding these multimillion dollar purses at the X PRIZE Cup this October in Las Cruces New Mexico.”

The competition is divided into two levels. Level 1 requires a vehicle 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 more difficult course, level 2, requires a vehicle to take off from a designated launch area, rocket up to 150 feet (50 meters) altitude, then hover for 180 seconds before landing precisely on a simulated, rocky, lunar surface 100 meters away. For both level 1 and level 2, the vehicle has the option to refuel before conducting the required return level to the original starting point.

The $2.5 million is the total prize purse for the competition. Level 1 will offer $350,000 for first place and $150,000 for second place. Because of its increased difficulty, Level 2 will offer $1.25 million to the winner, $500,000 for second place and $250,000 for third place. If any prize is not won at the 2006 X PRIZE CUP, the leftover purse will can be won the following year.

The Lunar Lander Challenge will take place at the X PRIZE Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico on October 18-21, 2006. As the world’s first space show, the X PRIZE Cup is the only annual event where the entire family can visit to see the next generation of spaceships up close and in the sky.

“New Mexico is proud to be the home of the X PRIZE Cup and now the Lunar Lander Challenge,” stated New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans. “This is yet another opportunity for our state to be a leader in the new spaceflight industry to bring new companies, new jobs and economic development to New Mexico for generations to come.”

NASA’s Centennial Challenges promotes technical innovation through a novel program of prize competitions. It is designed to tap the nation’s ingenuity to make revolutionary advances to support the Vision for Space Exploration and NASA goals. NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate manages the program.

In 2004, the Ansari X PRIZE 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 their efforts to offer more prizes in the space industry, as well as, in the areas of health, energy, transportation, and education.

To register a team for the Lunar Lander Challenge please contact William Pomerantz at Will@xprize.org or (310) 587-3355.

For more information on the X PRIZE Foundation on the Internet please visit: www.xprize.org
For more information about Centennial Challenges on the Internet, visit: http://centennialchallenges.nasa.gov
For more information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/home

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