Press Release

X PRIZE Foundation Announces Competitors for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

By SpaceRef Editor
June 21, 2007
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X PRIZE Foundation Announces Competitors for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Number of Contenders Increases Exponentially for This Year’s Two Million Dollar Purse

A real rocket race is on the horizon with the return of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NG-LLC) — the centerpiece of the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup and Holloman Air and Space Expo. In the Challenge’s second year, the number of teams competing for the $2 million purse has increased from four teams to nine. The NG-LLC, sponsored by NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, is designed to accelerate commercial development of technology that can ferry cargo and humans between the moon’s surface and lunar orbit.

“We are excited by the number of teams competing this year and their overall level of sophistication,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. “We fully expect to award the $2 million purse this year in what will prove to be an exhilarating showdown between a number of very qualified teams.”

The 2007 Wirefly X PRIZE Cup and Holloman Air and Space Expo will be held October 27-28 at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, NM. Specific times for the NG-LLC have yet to be announced. Attendance at this year’s expanded event is expected to reach upwards of 80,000.

Teams competing in the two-level NG-LLC include:

Acuity Technologies, Menlo Park, CA: The Acuity Technologies team is led by Robert Clark, who founded the company in 1992. The team, which has previously designed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Department of Defense, hopes that the light weight of their XHopper will give them an advantage in the Challenge.

Armadillo Aerospace, Mesquite, TX: As the only team to fly a vehicle in last year’s challenge, Armadillo may have a leg up on the competition. After their successful test flight on June 4, this team of volunteers is anxious to show what they can do at the 2007 Wirefly X PRIZE Cup. They are led by John Carmack, founder of id Software.

BonNova, Tarzana, CA: Allen Newcomb, an engineer who was part of the team that won the Ansari X PRIZE, helms this group. The team, which includes both a fiction author and an IndyCar crew member, founded the company for the sole purpose of winning the NG-LLC.

Masten Space Systems, Mojave, CA: With a team comprised almost entirely from Silicon Valley internet technology veterans, Masten Space Systems is currently working on launching tethered flights. The company, helmed by David Masten, is currently selling “SodaSats” — opportunities to launch and recover very small payloads — for only $99.

Micro-Space, Denver, CO: The Micro-Space team, along with Armadillo Aerospace, is one of two Ansari X PRIZE teams to compete in the NG-LLC. Many of the components of Micro-Space’s NG-LLC vehicle have already been successfully flown as components of other high-powered rockets.

Paragon Labs, Denver, CO: This team is comprised of 16 industry experts from all of the necessary subsystem disciplines and led by Kevin Sagis, founder of Paragon. The team’s vehicle is called Volkon.

SpeedUp, Laramie and Chugwater, WY: SpeedUp is the only team using a monopropellant engine for the Challenge. They are led by Robert Steinke, a former employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and have long-term plans to sell low altitude rocket rides to the general public.

Unreasonable Rocket, Solana Beach, CA: Most of the work from this small team has been done by the father-son pair of Paul T. Breed and Paul A. Breed. The members of Unreasonable Rocket are determined to show that a small, family team can compete in serious rocketry, and are building their vehicles in a garage for under $200K.

The ninth team has requested to remain confidential. Their confidentiality period ends 60 days before the start of the competition at which time the X PRIZE Foundation can publicly announce the name of the team.

For further information about the 2007 NG-LLC and the teams vying for the $2 million prize purse, visit The newly launched site features video, news and a “match up” function that offers side-by-side comparison of teams.


The Wirefly X PRIZE Cup is an annual two-day air and space exposition. This year the Cup will be held in conjunction with Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, NM to create the first ever Air & Space Expo with “live” fire / fly demonstrations and competitions. This event is free and open to the public and will be held on October 27th and 28th from 10am to 5pm. Launch and air show demonstrations will feature Rocket Racing League’s X-Racer, as well as the return of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge — a two-level, $2 million competition requiring a vehicle to simulate trips between the moon’s surface and lunar orbit. Nine teams are currently registered for this year’s competition, with NASA funding the prizes through its Centennial Challenges program. Air Force demos include the F-22, F-16 and F-117 aircraft. Additionally, visitors can tour nearly 30 acres of space and rocket exhibits as well as Air Force aircraft. For more information, please visit or call (310) 576-3473.


The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. On October 4, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private vehicle to space twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since expanded its mission beyond space exploration to offer new prizes for breakthroughs in the life sciences, energy and the environment, education and global entrepreneurship. In October of 2006, the X PRIZE Foundation announced the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for genomics, which will reward the first private effort to map 100 human genomes in 10 days ushering in a new era of personalized preventative medicine. For more information please visit or email


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