Feeds

Carmack's X-Prize rocket explodes on pad

Aspirations doomed for another year

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The sole remaining contender to win a prize for privately-built rocket lander systems exploded yesterday, ending hopes that the prize might be won this year.

Following the 2004 victory of the famous SpaceShip One in the Ansari X-Prize race to build the first private suborbital craft, tech prizes have proliferated. Governments and private sector sponsors alike have seen the contests as a relatively cheap way of stimulating independent talent to produce new kit.

In the case of the $2m Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, NASA and Northrop put up the prize money and the event is run by the X Prize Foundation. The idea is to "simulate trips between the moon's surface and lunar orbit".

This is done by achieving two short out-and-back hops between a pair of pads 100 metres apart here on Earth, rising to 50 metres during the trip. Rocket propulsion has to be used, the Moon having no atmosphere, and the vehicle has to hover for a minimum of 90 seconds. The competition has a Level I event with smooth pads, and a Level II with rough, lumpy Lunar-style landing areas.

In the end, only the team led by wealthy games developer John Carmack was actually ready to compete this year. The Armadillo Aerospace MOD-1 rocket made four Level I attempts over the weekend, but was dogged by technical snags and never achieved the minimum baselines. On the fourth and final try, according to the X Prize Foundation, "the engine exploded on ignition, resulting in a small fire and the flight was aborted".

It was a second year of heartache for Carmack, as his Pixel rocket almost scooped the cash in 2006.

"This was a weekend of outstanding competition," said Dr William Gaubatz, Lunar Lander Challenge judge.

"We believe Armadillo set some records in terms of reusability. We hope they carry on and inspire other teams to shoot for the prize and new records." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.