Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Armadillo Aerospace Wins Lunar Lander Challenge

Armadillo Aerospace has recently won the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (Level One) worth $350,000; with its vertical take-off/landing test vehicle. Armadillo Aerospace is planning on developing a suborbital space-tourism spacecraft that would operate out of the planned Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico along with Virgin Galactic and its SpaceShipTwo. Their prototype vehicle ascended to an altitude of 50 meters, then translation over to another landing pad 100 meters away and landed after a 90 second flight. This is to simulate a lander shuttling cargo across the lunar surface. The Armadillo Aerospace team then made a second flight to return to the original pad 2.5 hours later.

Still waiting to be handed out is the Level Two prize of 1.65 million which requires the hover time to be doubled and landing on a simulated lunar terrain that is filled with obstacles.
The company is proposing that their tickets to ride will cost $100,000 instead of the $200,000 planned by Virgin Galactic. The VT/VL(Vertical Take-off/Vertical Landing) spacecraft will have “fishbowl” cabins to provide the travelers with unobstructed views of the planet while experiencing micro-gravity.

Ref. Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 3, 2008. Page 20.

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