Centennial Challenge - Armadillo Aerospace

Centennial Challenge - Armadillo Aerospace
In this image, the rocket vehicle takes off.

On Sept. 12, 2009, Armadillo Aerospace successfully conducted flights at the Armadillo Aerospace test facility in Caddo Mills, Texas. Armadillo met the Level 2 requirements for the Centennial Challenges - Lunar Lander Challenge and qualified to win a $1 million dollar first place prize.

To qualify for the Level 2 prize, Armadillo Aerospace's rocket vehicle took off from one concrete pad, ascended to approximately 50 meters, moved 60 meters horizontally, then landed on a second pad that featured boulders and craters to simulate the lunar surface. After refueling at that pad, the vehicle then repeated the flight back and landed at the original pad. The vehicle completed the round trip, including fueling and refueling operations, in one hour and 47 minutes. That was well within the two and half hour time limit for the challenge.

Under the Lunar Lander Challenge this year, teams have until Oct. 31, 2009 to complete flight attempts and qualify for the remaining prizes. The Lunar Lander Challenge is divided into two levels. Level 1 requires a rocket to take off from a designated launch area, climb to a low, fixed altitude, and fly for at least 90 seconds before landing precisely on a different landing pad. The flight must then be repeated in reverse. Both flights, along with all of the necessary preparation for each, must take place within a two and a half hour period.

The more challenging Level 2 competition requires a rocket to fly for 180 seconds before landing precisely on a simulated lunar surface constructed with craters and boulders. The minimum flight times are calculated so the Level 2 mission closely simulates a real descent from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon. The winners of Level 2 will be awarded a $1 million first place prize and a $500,000 second place prize.