Feeds

Carmack's X-Prize rocket explodes on pad

Aspirations doomed for another year

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.