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." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
NASA eyeballs SOLAR HEAT BOMBS, MINI-TORNADOES and NANOFLARES on Sun
Astro boffins probe fiery star's hidden depths
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.