Monthly Archive for October, 2009

Unreasonable Rocket’s Lander Flies, Runs Out of Fuel

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Unreasonable Rocket flew its Blue Ball lunar lander on Saturday, but the little vehicle ran out of fuel before it could complete two flights in its effort to capture part of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.

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More Criminal Charges Involving NASA Funded Work

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UF professor, wife accused of defrauding NASA
Orlando Sentinel

A nuclear scientist and his wife were arrested Friday on charges of defrauding the government in connection with a $3.7 million contract they had with NASA, the Air Force and the Navy.

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UK Looks to Become Hub of Space Tourism

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UK to lead commercial space travel
The Engineer

The UK could be a world leader in space technology and commercial suborbital flights in 20 years, according to the British space industry’s secretary-general.

Paul Flanagan of UKspace told The Engineer Online that the UK is already a base for many leading satellite manufacturers, such as EADS Astrium and Surrey Satellites, and it could, one day, be a hub for commercial space travel.

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Galactic Suite: We’re On Schedule for Orbital Hotel in 2012

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A Spanish company says they will send the first tourists to their planned orbital hotel in about 3 years:

The Barcelona-based architects of Galactic Suite say the space hotel will be the most expensive in the galaxy, costing €3 million, or $4.5 million, for a three-night stay. During that time guests would see the sun rise 15 times a day and travel around the world every 90 minutes.

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Video: Masten’s Second Prize Winning Flight

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Masten Looks Toward Commercial Operations

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Masten Space Systems successfully qualified for first place in Level Two of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Wednesday. Flying a brand new vehicle named XA-0.1E (nicknamed Xoie), Masten demonstrated their ability to build, debug and fly a vehicle on a very short timeline.

“To come from not flying at all last year to qualifying for level one AND level two of the LLC this year shows how far our technology has progressed,” Masten Space Systems CEO David Masten said. “After a short vacation we will start modifying Xoie for commercial payloads and begin work on Xoie’s successor.”

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First Unreasonable Rocket Flies Briefly, Tips Over on Side

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Unreasonable Rocket’s first and second attempts to launch its Blue Ball lunar lander fizzled today. In both attempts, the vehicle rose briefly off the pad, hovered unevenly, settled back down to the surface, and tipped over on its side.

Company CEO Paul Breed and his son, Paul, have called it a day in order to make repairs to the lander. The company has additional launch windows on Saturday at its site in Cantil, Calif. The first window opens at 10 a.m. PDT.

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John Carmack’s Statement on NGLLC Judging Controversy

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LLC Judging Protest

Statement by John Carmack
Founder, Armadillo Aerospace
Competitor, Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

For the past couple weeks, as it became clear that Masten had a real shot at completing the level 2 Lunar Lander Challenge and bettering our landing accuracy, I have been kicking myself for not taking the competition more seriously and working on a better landing accuracy. If they pulled it off, I was prepared to congratulate them and give a bit of a sheepish mea culpa. Nobody to be upset at except myself. We could have probably made a second flight in the drizzle on our scheduled days, and once we had the roll thruster issue sorted out, our landing accuracy would have been in the 20cm range. I never thought it was worth investing in differential RTK GPS systems, because it has no bearing on our commercial operations.

The current situation, where Masten was allowed a third active day of competition, after trying and failing on both scheduled days, is different. I don’t hold anything against Masten for using an additional time window that has been offered, since we wouldn’t have passed it up if we were in their situation, but I do think this was a mistake on the judges part.

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Armadillo’s Carmack: I Was Robbed by NGLLC Judges

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John Carmack, founder of Armadillo Aerospace, is crying foul over the decision to give Masten Space Systems an extra day to complete its Level 2 flight for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. He sent a email to Alan Boyle over at MSNBC:

The current situation, where Masten was allowed a third active day of competition, after trying and failing on both scheduled days, is different. I don’t hold anything against Masten for using an additional time window that has been offered, since we wouldn’t have passed it up if we were in their situation, but I do think this was a mistake on the judges part…..

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Masten Qualifies for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Prize

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UPDATE: Masten completed safing and storing its Xoie lander in the time allotted. So, the team has now qualified to win the $1 million prize for Level 2. We are awaiting word on landing accuracy to see if Masten has leaped ahead of Armadillo Aerospace for first prize. Unreasonable Rocket is set to make its attempts today and tomorrow.

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Masten Space Systems has completed a return leg of its attempt to win the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Judges are now measuring the landing accuracy on the return flight. As soon as they finish, Masten will have six minutes to safe the Xoie vehicle and load it onto a truck. This is the last step in the process, which requires teams to make two flights within 2 hours and 15 minutes.