X PRIZE Foundation

Revolution Through Competition

2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X CHALLENGE

Click image to discover who’s who in photo.

Highlights from Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge Awards Ceremony in D.C.

On November 5, 2009, the X PRIZE Foundation along with NASA hosted the NGLLXPC 2009 awards ceremony in Washington D.C. Masten Space Systems, led by David Masten, was awarded the top $1 million prize, while Armadillo Aerospace, led by id Software founder John Carmack took home the second place prize of $500,000. The NGLLXPC is a partnership with NASA funding the $2 million in prize money as part of their Centennial Challenges program while the X PRIZE Foundation managed the competition which began in 2006. The $2 million prize purse, with part of it already awarded to Armadillo Aerospace in 2008, is the largest incentivized prize awarded by the X PRIZE Foundation since the winning of the $10M Ansari X PRIZE in 2004. Click here for more info.

Masten qualifies for Level2 of Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge
On Oct 30, 2009, Team Masten qualified for Level 2 of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge. Hear what Dave Masten, Team Leader and CEO of Masten Space Systems felt like after successfully putting Xoie on the trailer at the end of Flight #2. Find out more at: thelaunchpad.xprize.org


Unreasonable Rocket tries for Level 1, 2nd Place of the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge
Unreasonable Rocket made their first flight attempt for Level One, 2nd Place of the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge. Unsuccessful today, they chase glory tomorrow. Discover why they are called Unreasonable Rocket from Paul Breed, Sr. and find out what happened on one of their flight attempts on Oct 30, 2009 from Paul Breed, Jr. For more info: thelaunchpad.xprize.org


We are very excited to announce the registered competitors for the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge.

  • Armadillo Aerospace qualified for the Level 2 purse at Caddo Mills, TX, on September 12.
  • Masten Space Systems qualified for the Level 1 purse at Mojave, CA, on October 7-8. They will attempt to claim a Level 2 purse on October 28-29.
  • Unreasonable Rocket will attempt to claim purses in both levels from Cantil, CA, on Oct 30-31.

Update: Team BonNovA has had to surrender their chance at winning any prize money this year. Team Leader Allen Newcomb and the rest of the team put in a fantastic amount of effort this year, including a truly incredible push for the finish line within the last few weeks. However, their testing program is not as advanced as it needs to be, so the team will need to wait and see if any prize money remains after this week. Please see this blog post for more information about BonNovA and the remaining competitors.

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge is a $2,000,000 incentive prize program designed to build an industry of American companies capable of routinely and safely flying vertical take-off and landing rocket vehicles useful both for lunar exploration and for other applications. This prize, along with the Google Lunar X PRIZE is part of an effort to jumpstart “Moon 2.0,” a new era of sustainable lunar exploration that involves international partnerships between government space agencies and entrepreneurial firms. The prize purse comes from NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, with majority of the operational funding coming from Northrop Grumman. The prize is divided into two levels—a relatively easier Level One and a more difficult Level Two—each of which has a first and second place prize.

The prize was announced in May 2006, and 2006, 2007 and 2008 was offered to teams only on a fixed date (generally late October) and in a fixed location (Southern New Mexico, with the generous support of our friends at partners at Spaceport America). At the conclusion of the 2008, the $350,000 Level One, First Place prize was claimed by Armadillo Aerospace.

In 2009, the competition was altered to allow teams to compete at a date and a location of their choosing at any point between early August and the end of October. At the end of that period, teams that have met the all of the requirements for the prize will be ranked according to the landing accuracy displayed on their two flights.

Four teams registered for a total of six different prize winning attempts. To date, Armadillo Aerospace has met the requirements for the Level Two, First Place prize, guaranteeing that at least $1,000,000 will be awarded this year, with awards of $1,150,000 or $1,650,000 still possible.

This prize program is nearing completion. 2009 will see the award of most or all of the remaining prize money, including the single largest purse associated with the program. Any prize money still remaining will be carried over until 2010, after which it will expire if unclaimed.

Already, we can say that this prize program has been a great success. A dozen different teams have competed in the program, each bringing their own unique ideas and resources to bear on a common problem. To date, seven of those teams have flown a rocket—a stunning number, given that only two rockets of this sort have ever been flown prior to the announcement of this prize. All told, the competing teams have spent the equivalent of nearly $20,000,000 in pursuit of NASA’s $2,000,000 in prize money—and along the way, they have earned contracts with government agencies and with private customers in recognition of their capabilities and achievements.

Please join us as we wish the competitors best of luck! For more information, please visit Twitter (@NGLLC09), Facebook, The Launch Pad (blog), and the X PRIZE YouTube channel!