NASA's Centennial Challenges Program announced Wednesday that it will offer prizes totaling 2 million U.S. dollars if competing teams successfully meet the requirements of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.
The challenge, X PRIZE Cup, will take place at Holloman Air Force Base, in Alamogordo, N.M. on Oct. 27-28. The purpose of the lunar lander challenge is to accelerate technology development leading to a commercial vehicle that could one day be capable of ferrying cargo or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the moon's surface.
To win the prize, teams must demonstrate a rocket-propelled vehicle and payload that takes off vertically, climbs to a defined altitude, flies for a pre-determined amount of time, and then land vertically on a target that is a fixed distance from the launch pad.
After landing, the vehicle must take off again within a pre-determined time, fly for a certain amount of time and then land back on its original launch pad. There are two levels of difficulty, with awards for first and second place at each level.