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Masten Space Systems Attempts Launch of Lunar Lander Rocket to Qualify for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Top Prize

Press Release From: X Prize Foundation
Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2009

image Launches Scheduled For Oct. 28 & 29, 2009 at Mojave Air & Space Port, CA

WHAT: On Oct. 28 & 29, Masten Space Systems, led by former Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS) president David Masten, will be the second of three teams attempting to complete the requirements for the Level 2 portion of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NGLLC), funded by NASA, and created and presented by the X PRIZE Foundation.

The NGLLC is comprised of two levels; each level includes both first and second-place prizes. The two prizes available for Level 2 are worth $1 million and $500,000.

For Level 2 the Masten team will attempt to complete the requirements with its rocket XA0.1E, also called "Xoie." The Xoie rocket will launch from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. If the Masten team is successful with their launch attempt, it would put them in the running for the $1 million prize purse.

On Oct. 7, the Masten team was successful in completing the requirements of Level 1 of the NGLLC. The team has qualified for the second-place prize of $150,000. The rocket launch was their second attempt at a Level 1 challenge as the team made an effort on Sept. 16.

On Sept. 12, Armadillo Aerospace, led by id Software founder John Carmack, successfully completed the requirements for the Level 2 NGLLC prize purse, making it certain that NASA and X PRIZE will award at least $1 million before year's end. This will be the largest incentivized prize awarded by the X PRIZE Foundation since the 2004 Ansari X PRIZE competition. On Oct. 31, Unreasonable Rocket, will be the final team attempting the Level 2 portion of the challenge. All teams have until October 31st to match or exceed Armadillo's accomplishment.

The two-level competition challenges private companies to develop and launch rocket technology that will assist in NASA's return to the Moon. In Level 1 of the NGLLC, teams must simulate a lunar analog mission, and complete two successful flights, with the rocket rising to 50 meters, translating over to a second landing pad, and remaining in the air for at least 90 seconds. In order to meet the requirements of Level 2 of the NGLLC, the rocket must simulate a full lunar lander mission. The prize guidelines were designed so that the Level 2 mission--which includes a landing on a simulated lunar surface and flights of 180 seconds each--closely mimics the requirements and the difficulty of a real lunar lander mission.
 
WHEN: Wednesday, October 28
Media check-in at 6:00 a.m.
 
Thursday, October 29
Media check in at 6:00 a.m.
 
WHO: Interviews will be available with the following:

· David Masten, President and CEO, Masten Space Systems
· Will Pomerantz, Senior Director, Space Prizes, X PRIZE Foundation
                      
MEDIA: Media are invited and encouraged to attend. Interested media should contact Craig Nyman at cnyman@kirvindoak.com or Wendy Zamaripa at wzamaripa@kirvindoak.com; 702.737.3100.
 
A webcast of the Masten Space Systems launches scheduled for 9:00 a.m. PST will be available by clicking HERE.  Please be advised that launch times are subject to change.
                                                                                                     
WHERE: Mojave Air & Space Port
1434 Flight Line St.
Mojave, California 93501
 
OTHER: The competition underscores the report to President Obama by the Augustine Commission, which called for increased commercial sector participation both in orbital operations and NASA’s efforts to reach the Moon by 2020.
 
According to NASA, the historic 1969 lunar module would cost $12 billion in 2009 dollars. A mere 1/1000 of the cost has been spent by the competing teams ($12 million) to bring lunar landing technology into the 21st century.
 
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For More Information:
Craig Nyman, Kirvin Doak Communications
(702) 737-3100; cnyman@kirvindoak.com
 
Wendy Zamaripa, Kirvin Doak Communications
(702) 737-3100; wzamaripa@kirvindoak.com

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