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Rocket City Space Pioneers Enter Google Lunar X PRIZE

Published by Matt on Wed Sep 8, 2010 2:27 pm via: Andrews Space
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Today, the Rocket City Space Pioneers – a group of Huntsville businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations – announced their official entry into the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the Moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, Team Rocket City Space Pioneers is comprised of seven organizations and is among twenty-three teams from a dozen countries that are registered in the competition.The Rocket City Space Pioneers, led by Huntsville-based company Dynetics and comprised of Huntsville partners Teledyne Brown Engineering, Andrews Space, Spaceflight Services, Draper Laboratory, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation, will compete for the Google Lunar X PRIZE with their lunar lander. Leading the team is Tim Pickens, Dynetics chief propulsion engineer. No stranger to space competition, Pickens was also the lead propulsion engineer for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE winning SpaceShipOne team.

“We have hand-selected a Huntsville-centric, winning team for the Google Lunar X PRIZE that has the excitement, experience and capability to produce a successful technical solution and, more importantly, a business case to make this endeavor a viable solution,” Pickens said. “Having participated on a winning X PRIZE team, I appreciate the gravity and benefits of such a technically challenging endeavor. The Ansari X PRIZE jump-started commercial space and an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the country and created opportunities for further innovation and commercialization.”

The Rocket City Space Pioneers are developing a low-cost lunar lander/rover system for conducting commercial and scientific missions on the Moon and potentially other planetary bodies. The lander/rover system is capable of making a soft landing on a planetary body and deploying a rover measuring approximately 30×30x15 centimeters and weighing less than 10 kilograms.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said, “We’re fortunate to have some of the best and brightest minds in the country here in the Rocket City. With this community’s technical aptitude and strong impact on space exploration, it is imperative that we take advantage of opportunities such as the Google Lunar X PRIZE. I have confidence this team will make our city proud.”

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said, “Huntsville has a proud history as the rocket capital of the world and remains on the cutting edge of new space technology.  I am confident this contingent will represent Huntsville’s tradition and prominence in space exploration well, and I wish the team the best of luck in the competition.”

Dr. Marc Bendickson, Dynetics CEO, said, ‘We are excited to bring together such a qualified team. Dynetics’ experience and capabilities plus our partners’ outstanding past performance histories equals an unbeatable combination for producing an outstanding product.’

“We are extremely excited to welcome the Rocket City Space Pioneers in to the Google Lunar X PRIZE,” said William Pomerantz, Senior Director for Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation. “This team can draw on decades of impressive aerospace achievements, and their team leader is a proven winner. They are entering the competition with a great deal of momentum.”

For more information about the Rocket City Space Pioneers, go to www.rocketcityspacepioneers.com.

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