NOTE: Cross-posted to the Blog at Getting There From Here.
Congratulations to Masten Space Systems on successfully completing their qualifying flight for the $1 million prize in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge X-Prize. They join Armadillo Aerospace in qualifying for this prize.
To qualify, both companies had to demonstrate control of their vehicle by flying to an altitude of more than 50 meters, flying laterally for 100 meters, and landing on a simulated lunar surface complete with craters and boulders. After doing so, they vehicle had to take off from the simulated lunar surface and return to its starting point (with the option of refueling the vehicle between flights). And, oh yeah, they had to complete all of this (including any necessary refueling) in less than two-and-a-half hours.
Another team, Unreasonable Rocket, will attempt to complete their qualification tomorrow. BonNovA had intended to compete but had to withdraw.
We at Getting There From Here are huge fans of these types of competitions, as they allow a small amount of money to go a long, long way. In this case, the $2 million total prize money for the Lunar Lander Challenge has generated more than $20 million in research on rockets and helped at least a couple of small, entrepreneurial rocket companies to literally get off the ground. Kudos to the X Prize Foundation and Northrop Grumman for organizing and funding such a great contest.
If you want to read the Master press release about the successful flight, it is here.