Masten Space Systems Claim Lunar Lander Challenge Prizes

Masten Space Systems

With only a few days remaining in the 2009 competition period, Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California successfully met the Level 2 requirements for the Centennial Challenges - Lunar Lander Challenge and by posting the best average landing accuracy, won the first place prize of $1,000,000.The flights were conducted with their “Xoie” (XA-0.1E) vehicle on October 30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

Armadillo Aerospace, the long-time leader in Lunar Lander Challenge efforts, was the first team to qualify for the Level 2 prize with successful flights on September 12 in Caddo Mills, Texas. The average landing accuracy determines which teams will receive first and second place prizes. The average accuracy for Armadillo Aerospace flights was 87 cm. but the Masten team achieved an accuracy of 19 cm, moving them into first place. Armadillo Aerospace will receive the $500,000 second place prize.

“Xoie” uses liquid oxygen and isopropyl alcohol as propellants and it has an all-aluminum rocket engine. The vehicle weighs 300 pounds when empty and 850 pounds when fully loaded with propellant. The Masten team scheduled flight attempts for October 28 and 29. On October 28 they began two different flight attempts but these were canceled before liftoff due to computer communication problems and other technical issues.

Similar difficulties on the morning of October 29 also resulted in no official flight attempts. In the afternoon of October 29 a very good flight of over three minutes was completed with a very accurate landing. However a fuel leak led to a fire after touchdown that damaged wiring, insulation and other components and so the attempt could not continue. The judges allowed the Masten team to schedule a second attempt for the morning of October 30.

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