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Lunar Landing Challenge

First attempts start in an hour and a half. Clark Lindsey is heading out to the site at the Las Cruces Airport. Wish I were there.

Good luck to all the contestants.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Here's the webcast.

[Update about 10:30 AM EDT]

If you're watching the webcast (or even if not), it's about four to five minutes from Armadillo's first attempt.

[Update a few minutes later]

They had a successful first flight, except it ran short. They didn't make it to ninety seconds. The judges just gave permission for two more legs within this window, but they have only forty-five minutes left, which includes getting back to the departure point with the vehicle.

[Update a few minutes later]

They're about to make another attempt at the first successful leg. They're cleared for flight.

[Update a few minutes later]

They just had a first successful 90-second flight. They have fifteen minutes left before their FAA window closes (though they have longer to get back to the staging area). It's going to be a tight turnaround.

[Update at 11:30 AM EDT]

Too tight a window. They're detanking. Level One remains unwon. There are three or four windows left. TrueZero will make the next attempt later today.

[A little before 2 PM EDT]

TrueZero is about to make their attempt. This will be interesting--it's the first time they've ever flown the vehicle untethered...

[Update a few minutes later]

Well, it was interesting. Brief, but interesting. It ascended to altitude, but when it started its translation, it keeled over and dove to the ground, making a little smoking hole in the desert. There's a small fire, no one was hurt, and the vehicle is lying on its side and vented. Fire department on the way. Do they have other vehicles, or was that their shot?

This is why you do full flight tests. They had no experience with untethered flight. They just got some.

[Update at 4 PM EDT]

Armadillo is going to make their second attempt of the day in half an hour. If they don't make it, they'll have at least two more shots tomorrow. Barring a disaster, they should be able to go home with some prize money this year, but there will still be some on the table for next year.

[Update at quarter to five Eastern]

Well, this will be controversial. The judges have allowed them to just do the return flight, picking up where they left off this morning, because they weren't given the time earlier that the prize allowed, due to the unrelated FAA restriction. While one can understand the sentiment, technically they are not doing what the prize requires in terms of turnaround, and if they win today under the rule waiver, I fear that many will think it tainted.

[Update while listening to all the speechifying]

Clark has the story on what happened with TrueZer0. As noted they had one vehicle, and it was totaled.

[Update after the flight]

Well, they just had a successful flight. If they get back to the staging area in half an hour, they'll have one first place for Level One, $350K. Congratulations to the Amadillo team.

[Evening update

Clark Lindsey reports that tomorrow could be exciting for Armadillo and the crowd:

This will be the first time they have done the tip and translation with a full 3 minute fuel load on Pixel. Always a chance it will come crashing down like TrueZer0 but with 1500 lbs of propellants

Again, like last year, I can't understand why they haven't done a full dress rehearsal.


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David wrote:

Dang it.

Better luck next time, Armadillo. I'll be pretty mad if this thing doesn't happen this year due to the FAA interfering!

Mike Earl wrote:

Just missed it, but still an impressive showing from Armadillo. Very likely they can do it next try.

I hate to say it, but I hope TrueZer0 either makes it or crashes out on their first try this afternoon, to leave AA extra windows for the Level 2.

memomachine wrote:


Maybe developing this sort of stuff you'd be better of where the FAA isn't.

Eric Weder wrote:

Well, True Zero is done. That was interesting. Looks like they need either better software or hardware, it was a bit wobbly on the ascent, and tipped way too far when they started translation.

Better luck next time.

David wrote:

Congrats! Go Armadillo!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on October 24, 2008 9:30 AM.

What Fred Said was the previous entry in this blog.

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