Tim Pickens Leads Powerhouse Group into the Google Lunar X Prize

Sept. 7, 2010

Today, the Rocket City Space Pioneers – a group of Huntsville businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations – announced their official entry into the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the Moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, Team Rocket City Space Pioneers is comprised of seven organizations and is among twenty-three teams from a dozen countries that are registered in the competition.

The Rocket City Space Pioneers, led by Huntsville-based company Dynetics and comprised of Huntsville partners Teledyne Brown Engineering, Andrews Space, Spaceflight Services, Draper Laboratory, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation, will compete for the Google Lunar X PRIZE with their lunar lander. Leading the team is Tim Pickens, Dynetics’ chief propulsion engineer. No stranger to space competition, Pickens was also the lead propulsion engineer for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE winning SpaceShipOne team.

“We have hand-selected a Huntsville-centric, winning team for the Google Lunar X PRIZE that has the excitement, experience and capability to produce a successful technical solution and, more importantly, a business case to make this endeavor a viable solution,” Pickens said. “Having participated on a winning X PRIZE team, I appreciate the gravity and benefits of such a technically challenging endeavor. The Ansari X PRIZE jump-started commercial space and an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the country and created opportunities for further innovation and commercialization.”

The Rocket City Space Pioneers are developing a low-cost lunar lander/rover system for conducting commercial and scientific missions on the Moon and potentially other planetary bodies. The lander/rover system is capable of making a soft landing on a planetary body and deploying a rover measuring approximately 30x30x15 centimeters and weighing less than 10 kilograms.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said, “We’re fortunate to have some of the best and brightest minds in the country here in the Rocket City. With this community’s technical aptitude and strong impact on space exploration, it is imperative that we take advantage of opportunities such as the Google Lunar X PRIZE. I have confidence this team will make our city proud.”

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said, “Huntsville has a proud history as the rocket capital of the world and remains on the cutting edge of new space technology.  I am confident this contingent will represent Huntsville’s tradition and prominence in space exploration well, and I wish the team the best of luck in the competition.”

Dr. Marc Bendickson, Dynetics CEO, said, “We are excited to bring together such a qualified team. Dynetics’ experience and capabilities plus our partners’ outstanding past performance histories equals an unbeatable combination for producing an outstanding product.”

“We are extremely excited to welcome the Rocket City Space Pioneers in to the Google Lunar X PRIZE,” said William Pomerantz, Senior Director for Space Prizes at the X PRIZE Foundation. “This team can draw on decades of impressive aerospace achievements, and their team leader is a proven winner. They are entering the competition with a great deal of momentum.”

For more information about the Rocket City Space Pioneers, go to www.rocketcityspacepioneers.com.

About Dynetics
Dynetics Inc., with headquarters in Huntsville, Ala., and offices throughout the United States, has delivered high-quality, high-value engineering, scientific and information technology solutions to customers within the U.S. government and a range of other market segments since 1974. The company’s mission is to deliver superior quality, high-technology products and services ethically, responsively and cost effectively to meet customer needs in the areas of intelligence, missiles, aviation, cyber and space. Visit www.dynetics.com for more details.

About Teledyne Brown Engineering
Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated. The company is an industry leader in engineered systems, providing full spectrum systems engineering, integration, manufacturing and lifecycle sustainment solutions to the Department of Defense, NASA, Missile Defense Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, commercial nuclear plants and large prime contractors. Teledyne Brown’s one-stop engineering and fabrication capabilities include expertise in systems engineering, system integration, technology development, hardware design, prototype development, system test and evaluation, advanced manufacturing, logistics services, operations and maintenance. More information about Teledyne Brown Engineering may be found at www.tbe.com.

About Andrews Space
Andrews Space, Inc. was founded in 1999 to be a catalyst in the commercialization and development of space. The company is an affordable integrator of aerospace systems and developer of advanced space technologies. To learn more, please visit: www.andrews-space.com.

About Spaceflight Services
Spaceflight Services was established in 2009 by Jason Andrews, President and CEO of Andrews Space, to revolutionize secondary payload flight services for fixed and deployable cargo and transport. More information about Spaceflight Services and specific flight opportunities can be found on the company’s website: www.spaceflightservices.com.

About Draper Laboratory
Draper (www.draper.com) is a not-for-profit applied research and development laboratory that has been involved with nationally critical space systems development for 50 years. Draper’s space systems heritage began with designing the guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system for Apollo and continues with critical NASA programs including the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS) and the Constellation program. Draper is part of the team that recently received the Collier Trophy, the highest U.S. aerospace honor, for its contributions to the ISS program, and continues to work with NASA and commercial customers on new launchers, spacecraft and exploration vehicles.

About University of Alabama in Huntsville
The University of Alabama in Huntsville has a long history of developing space flight hardware projects. The University has flown over 18 space shuttle flight payloads as well as three payloads for the International Space Station, and consistently ranks among the top universities in the nation for NASA-sponsored research. For more information, please visit www.uah.edu.

About the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation
The Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation (VCSI) is a not for profit research for development (R for D) organization that promotes collaborative research in support of key federal requirements. VCSI integrates government, industry and university researchers to provide science applications and engineering solutions. In addition to its focus on R for D, VCSI is highly committed to hands on learning. VCSI is controlled by a board of directors consisting of key industry and university leaders. VCSI also has key member participants.  In the last two years, VCSI has been involved with the development of a microsat for the Space Test Program, hurricane forecasting instrument for NOAA, IED detecting robots for the Army and lunar lander test beds for NASA. For more information, please visit www.vcsi.org.

About the Google Lunar X PRIZE
The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE is an unprecedented international competition that challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The $30 million prize purse is segmented into a $20 million Grand Prize, a $5 million Second Prize and $5 million in bonus prizes. To win the Grand Prize, a team must successfully soft land a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, rove on the lunar surface for a minimum of 500 meters, and transmit a specific set of video, images and data back to the Earth. The Grand Prize is $20 million until December 31st 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15 million until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation. For more information about the Google Lunar X PRIZE, please visit www.googlelunarxprize.org.

About the X PRIZE Foundation
The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating and conducting competitions in four prize groups: Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, and Education & Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit www.xprize.org.