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Wacky Races to the Moon

26/02/2006. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy X Prize in the USA - or Buy X Prize in the UK

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The X-Prize Foundation is moving forward with plans to offer a $2 million Lunar Lander Challenge by releasing draft rules of the competition, making them available for public comment.

The LLC was originally introduced in a Letter of Intent executed between XPF and NASA's Centennial Challenges manager, Brant Sponberg, at the 2005 X PRIZE Cup. It is planned that the challenge will take place at this year's X PRIZE CUP event on October 21-22, 2006 in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The LLC will require a rocket capable of vertical takeoff and vertical landing to fly from one pad to another and back. The LLC is broken into two difficulty levels to maximize the interest from potential competitors while still resulting in the development of vehicles that are of value to NASA.

Any portion of the total prize money that is not won in the 2006 competition will be up for grabs at future X PRIZE CUP events.

Rules will also be designed so that the energy required for any winning flight is matched up with an actual lunar flight. The Lunar Lander Challenge rules can be downloaded for public comment here. The public, as well as, industry professionals and potential teams are encouraged to provide their ideas and comments by sending email to

At the 2005 X PRIZE CUP in Las Cruces, New Mexico, NASA Centennial Challenges Manager Brant Sponberg and X PRIZE Chairman and Founder Peter Diamandis signed a letter of intent to partner on two new space prizes. Implementation of this collaboration was contingent upon NASA obtaining necessary statutory authority for prizes, inclusion of necessary resources in the Centennial Challenges budget to fund the purses, and final negotiation and execution of an agreement between NASA and XPF.

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 NASA goals. NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate manages the program.

On October 4, 2004, the Ansari X PRIZE proved that offering a prize for a radical breakthrough in research and development is an extremely effective catalyst towards accelerating technological growth. Based on that success, the X PRIZE Foundation is now widely recognized as the premiere prize institute in the world. In addition to offering more prizes in the space industry, the X PRIZE Foundation is now looking at inspiring innovation in areas such as medicine, education and energy.

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