The Masten Success

Alan Boyle has the story of yesterday’s flight. This is a key point:

Graham said that if Masten and his team could maintain the kind of accuracy they achieved today during their upcoming Level 2 flight, “they’ll beat Armadillo” for the million dollars. The best thing about today’s outing was that it proved there’s more than one prizeworthy competitor out there.

Armadillo hasn’t won first place for Level II yet, or even (for that matter) second place. If two other teams fly a better profile, they could still be shut out. Which would be tough for the Carmack team, but great for the industry.

[Update a few minutes later]

Clark Lindsey wishes that there were more prizes than just first and second:

Shame there are no 3rd prize purses for either Level. Quite possible that one or two of the four teams will complete their flights successfully and still go away with no money.

They may, or may not. I think that anyone who succeeds has established their credentials for getting contracts, private or government, in related technologies, so it’s worth competing even if you don’t come away with a purse. Not to mention the psychic income. I’m sure the Masten people must be stoked, even without the money, and if Paul Breed succeeds, he’ll have something in which he can justifiably take great pride.

[Noon update, Pacific time]

A lot of congratulations over at the Arocket list, including this comment from John Carmack on the issue of third prizes:

This puts Paul in a very tough situation — it will be hard to beat Masten’s landing accuracy for level 1, but level 2 is a lot harder to complete successfully. I argued for a split-the-purse-among-the-qualifiers approach instead of determination based on accuracy, which I thought would have been more encouraging of successful flights.

That might be good, but an even better refinement would be a split purse with the proportion based on accuracy (e.g., if there were three competitors, and one was one inch, one was two inches, and one was three, you might divide it by six, give half to the closest, a third to the second closest, and the remaining sixth to the third. That would give everyone something, but still encourage accuracy.

In general, I was struck by the collegiality on the list from the competitors:

Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2009 12:11:23 -0700
From: David Masten
Subject: [AR] We Qualified!
To: Arocket List
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed; delsp=yes

Looks like 15 cm average accuracy. Good luck to Unreasonable and Bon Nova.

From: “Brian Feeney”
Subject: [AR] Congratulations to the Masten Team!
To: “‘David Masten'”
Cc: ‘Arocket List’
Message-ID: <879E1B28642C41B08062C785D136BA7F@UNA>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”us-ascii”

Congratulations to the Masten Team – proof once again that hard work and persistence (lots of developmental testing) pays off!

Best of luck on the Level 2.

Brian Feeney
DreamSpace Group

This industry knows that it’s still at a stage at which it has to hang together, or surely they will hang separately.

5 thoughts on “The Masten Success”

  1. IIRC, Armadillo has another slot to refly level 2 if they’re losing that, not long before the deadline. They had a software issue with their rotational thrusters on the first leg (fixed before the second!!), so they should be able to do significantly better on a second try.

  2. The prize amounts, I think, are icing on the cake. Completing the challenge is definitely the big news.

    Just hope the supply depot challenge can get some legs!

  3. This industry knows that it’s still at a stage at which it has to hang together, or surely they will hang separately.

    Nah. They just live in a positive-sum world, where everyone’s success will grow the market by stimulating demand. Masten’s success really is good news for all the competitors.

  4. Yes, we were very stoked Wednesday. Thursday, however, we were back after it. X0.1E (Xoie, pronounce “ZO-ee”) is partly assembled, so no weekend off for us.

    We have a long way to go, and a short time to get there.

    To everyone, thanks for the warm wishes.


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