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Race for the moon

17/05/2006. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Land on the moon, get 2 million big green ones. Yes, it's a prize to see which private organisation can get to the moon first. Obviously, it'll be the waste disposal people, a la Space 1999.

NASA's Deputy Administrator Shana Dale has announced that the agency's Centennial Challenges program has signed an agreement with the X PRIZE Foundation to conduct the $2 million Lunar Lander Analog Challenge.

"NASA's Centennial Challenge program is using the tool of prize competitions, so successfully demonstrated by the X-PRIZE, to plant the seeds for future space commercial activities," Dale told "We're confident the Lunar Lander Analog Competition will stimulate the development of the kinds of rockets and landing systems that NASA needs to return to the moon, while also accelerating the development of the private sub-orbital space flight industry."

Dale made the announcement at the International Space Development conference in Los Angeles. The challenge will take place at the X PRIZE Cup Expo in Las Cruces, N. M., Oct. 20-22.

NASA is sponsoring the challenge, offering the competition's largest cash prize yet for developing a versatile space vehicle that one day may support exploration of the moon. The X PRIZE Foundation is administering and executing the competitions at no cost to NASA, providing the venue for the competition and encouraging involvement by a diverse field of competitors.

"The X PRIZE Foundation is pleased to collaborate with NASA in this important milestone of space flight," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation. "This is a collaboration that works because the X PRIZE Foundation and NASA share the goal of pushing new technologies for space exploration. We look forward to hosting this competition at our X PRIZE Cup Expo."

The Lunar Lander Analog Challenge will take place in the vicinity of the Las Cruces International Airport. Competing teams will demonstrate their vehicle's ability to launch vertically, hover in mid-air, land on a target more than 100 yards away and then repeat the feat.

NASA's Centennial Challenges promotes technical innovation through a novel program of prize competitions. It is designed to tap the nation's ingenuity to make revolutionary advances to support the Vision for Space Exploration and agency goals. NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate manages the program.

The X PRIZE Foundation is a not-for-profit educational organization that uses competitions to create innovative breakthroughs in space and related technologies for the benefit of mankind. The foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace built and flew the world's first private spacecraft to the edge of space to win the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE.

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