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California team wins lunar landing contest

Masten Space Systems gets $1 million from the X Prize Foundation in a NASA-backed contest to simulate a landing on the moon.

November 03, 2009|Associated Press

A team of California rocketeers won a $1-million prize in a simulated lunar landing contest backed by NASA, the X Prize Foundation announced Monday.

The foundation said that Mojave, Calif.-based Masten Space Systems had a better landing accuracy than Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas, which got $500,000 for second place.

The teams flew robotic rockets that had to rise more than 160 feet, stay aloft for at least 180 seconds while traveling to a rocky landing pad, and then fly back to the starting point.

The flight profile simulates what would be required to descend from lunar orbit, land on the moon and then lift off again to return to lunar orbit.

NASA put up $2 million in prizes for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge as an incentive to spur development of technology by space entrepreneurs.

The space agency will present most of the prize money Thursday.

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