Highs And Lows

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Update from the Wirefly X Prize Cup competition. A Lunar lander prototype by Armadillo Aerospace flew successfully one its first official trial, but suffered a mishap on landing and may not be able to take a second flight. Without the second flight, the builders will not be able to claim the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge prize money. The first successful flight did win some cash, but not the big prize.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — A little bit of Apollo Moon history was revisited here today. The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge was staged for the first time at the Wirefly X Prize Cup.

The NASA-sponsored Challenge is part of the two-day Cup being held October 20-21 at the Las Cruces International Airport. NASA is providing $2 million in prize money for the Challenge.

The event was founded by the creators the Ansari X Prize, the $10 million prize package offered to anyone who could launch a re-usable sub-orbital spacecraft, capable of carrying passengers, twice in a two week period.

Roaring off into clear skies over a stretch of remote terrain, the Armadillo Aerospace vertical takeoff and landing vehicle rose to altitude, remained aloft, scooted horizontally a distance, but ran into trouble at touch down on a landing pad.

The craft–nicknamed "Pixel"–came down too fast causing breakage of landing legs. Fire damage caused by the hard landing has curtailed the vehicle's second flight – needed to claim NASA prize money. Depending on overnight fixes to software and hardware, another attempt at grabbing Lunar Lander Challenge money may be attempted.

Good luck guys. I hope you can get it fixed in time. Remember, you can watch video highlights and live streaming video of the competition. I have all the links at this post from yesterday.

UPDATE: They did try again today, but the craft tipped over on landing, killing any chance for the prize.

Roaring off into New Mexico skies over barren landscape, the Armadillo Aerospace vehicle rose to altitude, remained aloft, roared horizontally a distance, but ran into trouble on landing.

The craft missed a precise touch down, tipping over onto the ground. Yesterday, during the first leg of the two-day challenge, the same craft came down too fast causing breakage of its landing gear.

Video is here.

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