Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lunar Lander Challenge 09, Pomerantz and Diamandis

From the SpaceFellowship, here is "an update from the Launchpad:

In late October, the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge drew to a close. History was made several times over: the first prize awarded in that competition, the largest prize to date as part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges, the first attempt at Level Two of that competition, the first time with multiple vehicles flying at the event. But before that event was finished, we at the X PRIZE Foundation were already turning our eyes towards 2009, with a goal of offering the remaining prize money in the most fair and most sustainable way possible.

In the first two years of competition, the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge was tied to a larger event called the “X PRIZE Cup,” an educational exposition bringing crowds in contact with rockets and with the entrepreneurial and inventive teams who design and operate them. In 2008, there was no X PRIZE Cup, so the Challenge was offered as a stand alone event. In all three years, the Challenge was offered at great expense to the X PRIZE Foundation, which receives no funding from NASA to conduct this competition.

Moving forward, the concept of conducting a large common event at which all teams fly their vehicles is likely not financially sustainable for the Foundation. Additionally, the conduct of such an event imposes non-negligible expenses on our teams, who must not only transport themselves and their vehicles to the venue for the competition, but who also must complete their design process, their regulatory paperwork, and their procurement of insurance with not only their own “home facility” but also the competition venue in mind. As such, the fairest and most sustainable model may prove to be one where each team plays host to a crew of Judges and X PRIZE personnel at a facility of their choice.