GLXP News: Rocket City Space Pioneers Completes Key ILDD Milestone

Huntsville, Ala. (Sept. 2, 2011) – The Dynetics-led Rocket City Space Pioneers (RCSP) Google Lunar X PRIZE team has successfully completed a critical NASA contract milestone by delivering rocket engine hot-fire test data on Dynetics’ newly developed “green” rocket engine. NASA, through its Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) contract, selected Dynetics in October to supply flight component data to enable the development of future human and robotic lander vehicles and exploration systems.

The RCSP team conducted testing on a new, non-toxic “green” hydrogen peroxide-kerosene bi-propellant rocket thruster developed by Dynetics to meet the performance needs of the team’s robotic lander propulsion subsystem.  The new rocket thruster was successfully tested in flight relevant environments, providing volumes of data for NASA on the design and performance of this technology. Teammates at Draper Laboratories developed initial guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C) precision landing algorithms to provide testing profiles, and Teledyne Brown Engineering provided thermal analysis inputs used to optimize the design.

The team also provided data from ongoing lunar rover prototype testing. RCSP and teammates at the University of Alabama Huntsville and Andrews Space, supported by the University of Washington, completed demonstrations of the miniature rover wheel designs and vision-based driving algorithms.

RCSP is 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 the rover.

“Our team is excited to be contributing to NASA’s mission of pioneering space exploration,” said Tim Pickens, team leader of the Rocket City Space Pioneers. “We are pleased with the results of our rocket engine’s hot-fire test and look forward to continued work on our lander and rover and future opportunities with NASA.”

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 for more details.

About The Rocket City Space Pioneers

The Rocket City Space Pioneers is a team of Alabama-centric businesses and organizations formed to prove that robotic space exploration can be an affordable and sustainable commercial endeavor. Team members include Dynetics (team leader), Teledyne Brown, Draper Laboratory, Teledyne Brown, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Andrews Space, Spaceflight Services, Moog, the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation, the University of Alabama Huntsville, the Huntsville Center for Technology.

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. For more information about the Google Lunar X PRIZE, please visit

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