X PRIZE Foundation Announces Ten Teams Vying for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Aviation History | History of Flight | Aviation History Articles, Warbirds, Bombers, Trainers, Pilots | X PRIZE Foundation Announces Ten Teams Vying for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Competition to Take Place on October 24 and 25 at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico

SANTA MONICA, CA–(Marketwire – August 05, 2008) – The X PRIZE Foundation today announced that ten teams will compete in the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, which will take place at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, October 24-25, 2008. The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge is a two-level, two million dollar competition requiring a vehicle to simulate trips between the moon’s surface and lunar orbit.

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, said, “Once again, we have excellent teams prepared to compete in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. We are excited to see new teams join the competition, and I am confident that we will give away prize money this year. We are also delighted to have Northrop Grumman back as our title sponsor. This is the third year Northrop Grumman has supported the Lunar Lander Challenge; they are a valued partner and we would like to thank them for their continued enthusiasm.”

“Northrop Grumman is delighted to once again sponsor the Lunar Lander Challenge, an undertaking that typifies the spirit of U.S. leadership in innovation, entrepreneurism, and human space exploration,” said Robert Davis, director of the company’s space systems business development. “The competition continues to produce discoveries and dialogues that add critical bits of momentum to the Nation’s space program. We applaud and appreciate the contributions of every entrant to this process.”

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge is also funded by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and the State of New Mexico. New Mexico is a key supporter of the X PRIZE Foundation and the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, and is committed to making a home for entrepreneurial space in New Mexico. “This marks the third year that the X PRIZE Foundation’s Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge has come to the state of New Mexico, where we continue to be on the leading edge of the commercial spaceflight industry. Competitions like the Lunar Lander Challenge will advance the technology needed as we continue to develop the commercial spaceflight industry and New Mexico’s Spaceport America,” said New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director, Steve Landeene.

The X PRIZE Foundation manages the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge for the NASA Centennial Challenges Program, which provides the $2 million prize purse for the competition. While the competition normally takes place at the X PRIZE Cup, the Cup has been postponed until 2009 and the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will be a solo event this year. The event will not be open to the public, but the competition will be webcast online at www.xprize.org.

The teams competing are:

Armadillo Aerospace – Armadillo Aerospace, based in Mesquite, Texas and led by 3D graphics pioneer and video game developer John Carmack, is a veteran of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Armadillo was the only team to fly a vehicle at the 2006 and 2007 competitions. They will be entering their MOD and QUAD vehicles into the Level One and Two competitions, respectively. In addition to their participation in the Lunar Lander Challenge, Armadillo was a contender in the Ansari X PRIZE, and has done work for the Rocket Racing League, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force.

BonNova – BonNova, led by Allen Newcomb and based in Tarzana, California, was established for the sole purpose of winning the Lunar Lander Challenge. They will enter their vehicles Lauryad 1 and Lauryad 2 in Level One and Two competitions, respectively. Newcomb has over 20 years experience in avionics and designing for extreme environments, such as racecars and oil wells. He designed all of the avionics, flight software, and ground software for SpaceDev’s hybrid rocket engine on Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, the winner of the Ansari X PRIZE.

Paragon Labs – Paragon Labs is led by Kevin Sagis and headquartered in Denver, Colorado. The team is composed of industry professionals from a number of subsystem disciplines, molded into a “skunk-works” environment to ensure rapid prototyping and development. Paragon plans to compete in Level One with their craft named Volkon. Sagis founded Paragon after working for Lockheed Martin, supporting various NASA centers.

Phoenicia – Team Phoenicia is a group of dedicated individuals, led by William Baird, who have come together to open up and explore the cosmos. The team is headquartered in Emeryville, California. By building a scalable and semimodular design, Team Phoenicia is tackling the competition in a manner that allows the follow-on development of landers with potential commercial application. Their Level Two vehicle is called The Wind at Dawn.

TrueZer0 – TrueZer0 is a four person team led by Todd Squires and Scott Zeeb and based in Chicago, Illinois. The team consists of a mechanical engineer, an electrical/CS engineer, and a father and son who own and operate a machine shop. The team has worked together on a number of projects and thinks that between the four members, they have excellent coverage of almost all aspects of the competition, from design through production. They plan to compete in Level One with their vehicle, Ignignokt.

Unreasonable Rocket – Unreasonable Rocket, led by Paul Breed, is developing two vehicles to compete in Level One and Level Two of the 2008 Lunar Lander Challenge. Unreasonable Rocket is a small father and son team located in Solana Beach, California, with a long-term goal of showing that significant rocket and space flight capabilities are achievable by small teams. Their vehicles are called Burning Splinter 90 and Burning Splinter 180.

Four other teams have requested to remain confidential. Their confidentiality period ends 60 days before the start of the competition at which time the X PRIZE Foundation can publicly announce the name of the teams.

For further information about the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and the teams vying for the $2 million prize purse, visit http://space.xprize.org/ng-lunar-lander-challenge. The newly launched site features video, news and a match up function that offers side-by-side comparison of teams.


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 the world’s attention when the Burt Rutan-led team, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private spaceship to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for suborbital spaceflight. 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 and its revolution partner BT Global Services are creating prizes in Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education and Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit www.xprize.org.


Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense
electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With more than 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.


Centennial Challenges is NASA’s prize program to promote technical innovation through competitions open to all Americans. The Lunar Lander Challenge is one of seven current competitions designed to tap the nation’s ingenuity in support of NASA’s goals. Centennial Challenges is managed by NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program Office.

Updated: July 18, 2011 — 3:25 PM
Air Age Media ©
WordPress Image Lightbox Plugin