Washington, D.C. – Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) today recognized Armadillo Aerospace for winning the first level of the Lunar Lander Challenge.
“By winning the first level of the competition, Armadillo Aerospace has turned innovative thinking into a proven capability that could give rise to entirely new space industries in the future,” Hall said.
The Challenge is a $2 million prize contest set up through NASA, the X-Prize Foundation and Northrop Grumman, which is intended to accelerate the development of commercial technologies leading to lunar landers that can ferry payloads or humans from lunar orbit to the lunar surface.
The first level challenge entailed building a rocket that can ascend 50 meters, move horizontally to perform a soft landing on a pad, and then return to the original launch pad within two-and-a-half hours. Armadillo Aerospace, a company located in Ranking Member Hall’s hometown of Rockwall, Texas, successfully completed this ambitious achievement on October 25, 2008.
“The idea of offering prize competitions for successfully achieving a particular breakthrough is not new, but it is a very creative approach,” Hall added. “Since NASA first proposed the use of innovation prizes to encourage competition, our Science and Technology Committee has supported the concept. First, we authorized the Centennial Challenges Program in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, and most recently reaffirmed our support in this year’s NASA Authorization Act of 2008, P.L. 110-422, directing the agency to award prizes up to $50 million.”