NASA will recognize Armadillo Aerospace, the winner of the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, during a ceremony at 10 a.m. on December 5th at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. The winning vehicle successfully demonstrated some of the technologies needed for a lunar lander capable of ferrying payloads or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the moon's surface.
During the ceremony, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin will speak about NASA's commitment to commercial space development. Doug Comstock, director of NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program, will present a ceremonial check for $350,000 to the Armadillo Aerospace team leader, John Carmack. Also attending the event are George Nield, associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration, and Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, which managed the Lunar Lander Challenge for NASA.
Armadillo Aerospace won first prize in the level one competition of the challenge held at the Las Cruces International Airport in New Mexico last October. The team constructed a rocket-powered vehicle that lifted off vertically to a height of 50 meters, flew horizontally to a landing pad 100 meters away, landed safely after at least 90 seconds of flight time and repeated the flight.
NASA's Centennial Challenges is a prize program to promote technical innovation through competitions. The Lunar Lander Challenge is one of seven current competitions designed to tap the nation's ingenuity in support of NASA's goals and missions. NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program Office in Washington manages the Centennial Challenges.