Previewing the 2008 Lunar Lander Challenge

Immediately after the ISPCS will be the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NGLLC), run by the X Prize Foundation with prize money provided by NASA’s Centennial Challenges program. It was only in the last few weeks that the date and location for the competition was finalized. Original plans called for the event to take place at Holloman AFB, where the 2007 competition (part of the X Prize Cup and Holloman air show) took place; there would be no public event this year, only the competition. However, classified activities will close the base on the planned dates of the event, forcing the organizers to scramble for alternative sites. They ended up at Las Cruces International Airport (home of the 2005 and 2006 X Prize Cup events and the 2006 NGLLC), keeping the same dates of October 24-25.

As with the 2006 and 2007 competitions, Armadillo Aerospace will be present, trying for both the Level 1 and Level 2 competitions. However, it appears that they may have some competition this year, at least at Level 1: TrueZer0 (yes, spelled with the numeral “0”) is here in Las Cruces and, assuming they are able to get an experimental permit from the FAA, hope to be ready to compete. However, as the four-person team notes on their site, they’ve still yet to demonstrate their ability to perform most of the key requirements of the competition, whereas Armadillo has flown LLC Level 1 profiles since last year (although not yet completely successfully in the competition itself, unfortunately.)

Although the event has moved off the air force base, the event is still closed to the public, save for ISPCS attendees and other VIPs. The event will be webcast, though, and if past experience is any prediction, that will provide you with a better view than you’ll get in person.

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