X Prize Cup Announces Lunar Lander Challenge Competitors

The X PrizeFoundation announced Thursday the name of eight of the nine competitors in thisyear?s Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge to be held this October duringthe Wirefly X Prize Cup and Holloman Air and Space Expo.

The numberof teams competing for the $2 million purse increased from four teams to nine. Sponsoredby NASA?s Centennial Challenges Program, the event is designed to acceleratecommercial development of technology that can ferry cargo and humans betweenthe Moon?s surface and lunar orbit.

?We areexcited by the number of teams competing this year and their overall level ofsophistication,? Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundationsaid in a statement. ?We fully expect to award the $2 million purse this yearin what will prove to be an exhilarating showdown between a number of veryqualified teams.?

The 2007Wirefly X PRIZE Cup and Holloman Air and Space Expo will be held October 27-28at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, NM.

Teamsparticipating in the competition are:

  • Acuity Technologies,? Menlo? Park,? CA: Led by Robert Clark, who founded the company in 1992, they previously designed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Department of Defense.
  • Armadillo Aerospace,? Mesquite,? TX: The only team to fly a vehicle in last year?s challenge with the vehicle Pixel, the company is led by John Carmack, founder of id Software.
  • BonNova, Tarzana, CA: Allen Newcomb, an engineer who was part of the SpaceShipOne team that won the Ansari X PRIZE, helms this group.
  • Masten Space Systems, Mojave, CA: Masten Space Systems is currently working on launching tethered flights and now sells what they have dubbed ?SodaSats?, the opportunity to launch and recover very small payloads for only $99.
  • Micro-Space, Denver, CO: The Micro-Space team, along with Armadillo Aerospace, is one of two Ansari X PRIZE to compete.
  • Paragon Labs,? Denver,? CO: Kevin Sagis, founder of Paragon is leading a 16-member team to create the Volkon vehicle.
  • SpeedUp, Laramie and Chugwater, WY: Led by Robert Steinke, a former employee of NASA.s Jet Propulsion Lab, SpeedUp plan to use a non-propellant engine.
  • Unreasonable Rocket, Solana Beach, CA: The father-son team of Paul T. Breed and Paul A. Breed are building their vehicles in a garage for under $200,000.

The ninthteam requested to remain confidential, lending an air of controversy to theannouncement. Space bloggers have surmised the ninth team is Amazon.com founderJeff Bezos? Blue Origin, but sources told SPACE.com that information was wrong.

Theirconfidentiality period ends 60 days before the start of the competition atwhich time the X Prize Foundation will announce the team's name.

For furtherinformation about the teams vying for the $2 million prize purse, visit http://ngllc.xprize.org

  • Complete Coverage: WireFly X Prize Cup
  • Special Report: The New Space Race

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Space.com Staff
News and editorial team

Space.com is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, Space.com is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.