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Armadillo Aerospace Claims Level 2 Lunar Lander Prize

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the putting-it-down-easy dept.

Moon 134

Dagondanum writes "Armadillo Aerospace has officially won the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Level 2, on a rainy day at Caddo Mills, Texas. Reports came in from various locations during the day and spectators posted videos and images using social networking tools such as Twitter. The Level 2 prize requires the 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 that the Level 2 mission closely simulates the power needed to perform a real descent from lunar orbit down to the surface of the Moon. First place is a prize of $1 million while second is $500,000."

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Woohooo (4, Insightful)

arikol (728226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404411)

Cool.
The flight looked amazingly stable.

GO Armadillo Aerospace. I'm just impressed and pleased that they made it.

Re:Woohooo (1, Redundant)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404463)

It does indeed move incredibly smoothly. How does it steady itself? It most certainly looks top-heavy. Are there separate thrusters keeping it from tipping, or does its main engine have thrust-vectoring?

Re:Woohooo (4, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404503)

I should have watched the end of the video first: around the three minutes mark you can clearly see the plume moving from side to side while the machine stays almost still relative to the ground.

Re:Woohooo (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404799)

Yep, the main engine is thrust vectoring. Roll control is handled by small cold-gas thrusters that use the same helium supply that pressurizes the main propellant tanks.

Note also that "it most certainly looks top-heavy" is actually an example of the pendulum fallacy [wikipedia.org] . It doesn't matter whether the center of mass is far above, a little above, or below the rocket engine, you need active stabilization on a hovering rocket. (On a rocket flying a vertical trajectory, passive stabilization via fins will suffice to hold it basically straight.)

Market It As a Toy! (2, Interesting)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405683)

Superb work from the minds of Armadillo!

Maybe they need to find a way to turn something like into a commercializable product, to reap more rewards from their fine work.

I wonder if there's some kind of dual-use alternative market for something like this? How about making a small miniaturized version that could be marketed as a toy for adult geeks? (aka "overgrown kids")

Cmon - wouldn't you like to have your own miniature thrust-vectored hovering lander thingie floating around your office?

Carmack's geek credentials are solid enough to be a brand. He could make his own toy company to market toy versions of any cool space tech he develops.

Power It With a Bic Lighter! (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405787)

You could power the toy version with lighter fluid. Some kind of chip would control the thrust vectoring, and some tiny microturbine would act as the turbopump for the rocket motor.

Hey, why not? It would be cooler than these R/C micro-helicopters

A really cool design would allow you to just plug in an ordinary Bic lighter into it as a ready-made fuel tank.

A fancy version could even have a small camera onboard, and maybe send a video feed back to your laptop via bluetooth. There are R/C helicopters that have tiny cameras on them. You could control and steer the thing from your laptop too.

I bet it could be done - and I bet plenty of people would buy it, too.

Re:Power It With a Bic Lighter! (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406129)

You forgot the tiny liquid oxygen tank.

Re:Power It With a Bic Lighter! (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406667)

You'd have to make it big enough to operate outdoors without being blown away. Rockets inside sounds like a lawsuit.

Control system (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406281)

Is there any information out there on the stabilizing controllers used by Armadillo to achieve this? Does anyone know what methodology they used? Old-fashioned PID (or really lag-lead) with hand tuning? LQR on a linearized model? Feedback linearization? There are some references to "gains" in passing on the Armadillo website which makes me assume that there's a linear controller somewhere in there under the hood.... Anybody know?

Re:Control system (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406521)

It's all software, but I believe it's a PID controller at heart. I know they do things that aren't strictly PID, like dead bands in the roll control, but I don't think it's terribly complicated. If you read through their updates [armadilloaerospace.com] they have a fair bit of information, in varying levels of detail.

I know they've moved more and more to having broader control loops: instead of one loop that sets a thrust level in order to maintain position, and another that tweaks the throttle to hit the target thrust, they just wrap it into one loop that moves the throttle valve in order to maintain altitude.

Re:Woohooo (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406323)

Thanks for the link to the pendulum fallacy. I suffered from it until about two minutes ago... I am now enlightened. :) Although I'm not sure I'm happier knowing that the Apollo spacecraft had several hundred kilograms of depleted uranium packed into the nose... :o

Re:Woohooo (1)

MacroRex (548024) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405953)

Yeah, it's gimbaled, like almost all modern rockets. For more info see here [wikipedia.org] .

Congrats to Armadillo!

Re:Woohooo (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406215)

Yeah, it's gimbaled, like almost all modern rockets. For more info see here [wikipedia.org] .

Which is not all that surprising, since Apollo Lunar Module's descent engine was gimbaled as well.

Re:Woohooo (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404537)

With the way the thrust cone wandered all over the place as they were landing, showing them compensating for things as they brought it down- I'm suspecting a bit of Gyro stabilization coupled with thrust vectoring for directional changes.

Re:Woohooo (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404629)

left arrow, left arrow,left arrow,right arrow,up,up,Up,UP,UP!,UP, shit, we made it.

Re:Woohooo (1, Informative)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404683)

Actually it was up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A

Re:Woohooo (1)

nstlgc (945418) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404765)

Woosh!

Actually it was (3, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404825)

set cg_bobroll "0"

Re:Woohooo (-1, Redundant)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405019)

The crew that rushed into the scene with the fire extinguisher (very end of the footage) in clear attempt to safe the thing will also be present on the Moon ?

Re:Woohooo (2, Informative)

wampus (1932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405075)

I kind of doubt the thing will be in an oxygen atmosphere on the moon, so there won't be any need to douse it in CO2 after landing.

Re:Woohooo (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405395)

Informative? Who wanders Slashdot with mod-points these days? Valley Girls?

Re:Woohooo (2, Funny)

justins (80659) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406981)

Like OH MY GOD

Re:Woohooo (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405263)

Lunar Lander [wikipedia.org] was made by Atari, not Konami.

Re:Woohooo (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406313)

You forgot Start...

Geek card please!

Re:Woohooo (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404945)

Would've been easier with just entering "idspispopd". Or is this already version 2?

Re:Woohooo (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404879)

      I was impressed by that as well. While I realize it would never have to on the moon, I wonder how well it would deal with a slight breeze. It was making some fairly rapid corrections from what I assume was ground effect buffeting.

      Having never seen this one before I was a little taken back at the end when somebody jogged up to it. It was 2-3x bigger than I initially thought.

Re:Woohooo (2, Informative)

Narishma (822073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405205)

The corrections they were making near the end are so that they land as close as possible to the center of the pad, because that counts in determining who gets first place if another team also wins the challenge.

Re:Woohooo (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405271)

      I was talking about the rapid corrections in the thrust cone while the lander was stable. There's a pronounced difference in the correction rate around the 3:00 mark of the first video as thermals or reflected exhaust began to affect the lander. Those effects won't exist on the moon but it did cause me to wonder just how large an external force it can deal with before becoming catastrophically unstable.

Re:Woohooo (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405869)

Living in Texas and following the tweets about it, I believe it was actually fairly windy yesterday. It was stormy and rainy across the state, and I know that they were much more worried about the rain than the wind.

That engine can thrust and vector a lot, and Dallas/Plano (their lab) and west Oklahoma (a common test site) aren't exactly known for their stellar weather, so they've always had to deal with wind.

Sadly I have no concrete numbers, but 10 mph seems like a pretty reasonable limit based on the environment.

Re:Woohooo (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406385)

While I realize it would never have to on the moon, I wonder how well it would deal with a slight breeze.

Watch the video again, noting how quickly the somewhat threatening clouds are moving overhead in shots where you can see the rocket itself isn't moving. Also, look at the the way the fire at the end, and the exhaust from the fire extinguishers moves. There was more than "a slight breeze" going during the attempt -- there was a pretty decent wind blowing. Nothing extreme, but more than what I'd call "a slight breeze"...

Re:Woohooo (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406407)

Actually, I just watched the second video, and if you watch the way the dust moves that gets kicked up when they first ignite the engine at takeoff, it's pretty obvious there's a pretty decent wind blowing.

Re:Woohooo (1)

filekutter (617285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405827)

I'm so happy for AA I am going to fly onto my roof and dance nekkid till I get arrested. OH, and for those who may need a chuckle, I present this forum @ Space Fellowship. Arrogance, conceit, mis-understood genius, and more ! Troll heaven abounds ! http://spacefellowship.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=10511 [spacefellowship.com]

I'm going to build my own lunar lander (-1, Offtopic)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404415)

...with blackjack! And hookers. In fact, forget the lunar lander.

Re:I'm going to build my own lunar lander (1)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404441)

and the blackjack. D'oh.

Re:I'm going to build my own lunar lander (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29404493)

Well, unless you're well off, you'll need the blackjack to pay for the hookers...

Google x-prize? (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404429)

Perhaps, just perhaps, this will land on the moon within 2 years. That would be a spectacle to see. I think that if I were Apple or Ellison, I might consider funding it. ANother one might be Paul Allen. Allen has always been on the cutting edge of tech (and unlike his previous partner, not stealing it). Hopefully, he considers talking to carmack and getting this going there. Something like would be likely to spark the kids a bit more.

Re:Google x-prize? (2, Informative)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404597)

I think the Google Lunar x-prize is pointless. Its now more or less 5 years to it expire, but the full sum is only paid out if someone makes the trip before the end of 2012.

The orginal x-prize took 8 years for someone to win, and that prize had a strong commercial (space tourism) appeal, while the Google prize have not.

Re:Google x-prize? (3, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405409)

Then maybe the time limit should be extended. And perhaps it should be geared more towards research teams from academia rather than commercial industries.

First off, this is a much loftier goal (far more difficult than suborbital space flight), so naturally it will take longer to achieve. That's to be expected.

Secondly, these type of high-risk, low (immediate) commercial return ventures are inherently unappealing to private commercial industries. Things like space exploration and basic research are long-term investments in the future of humanity. Private industries prefer short-term investments with immediate returns. That's why government agencies like NASA and publicly-funded research organizations like CERN are needed. Otherwise these tasks would never be undertaken.

Lastly, it would probably speed up the process (of returning to the moon) if NASA hadn't decided to take all that publicly-funded space research/technology and auction it off to the highest bidder, basically turning it into private research (to be guarded as trade secrets) and proprietary technologies that are inaccessible to public researchers. I mean, we went from having no space program to landing on the moon in just under 11 years. Returning to the moon 4 decades later in 5 to 7 years really isn't that unreasonable—given that we're able to build on previously acquired knowledge and experience and actually have the motivation as a society to return to the moon.

too much military slop over (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405595)

Advanced rocket designs and navigation, etc just have too much military dual use potential to them to just wing it out public domain..unfortunately. Otherwise I agree with you, proly quite a bit of wheel reinventing going on now that really doesn't have to be. I think *most* government funded research should be open sourced, especially anything pertaining to medicine, but not that.

Re:Google x-prize? (1)

eyeverve (1398151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406621)

I understand your argument about the timeline, but I think what must be considered is our current level of engineering tolerance...decreased with rapidly developing technology. Let's say they designed the first Moon mission to have a 99% success chance. Now, with our technological ability test the hell out of our designs, we won't be satisfied unless the success chance is 99.9999%. The more we know the more it slows us down. Current examples include almost every military aircraft designed in the last 25 years. (I think military aircraft are a better example than civilian because of the high workloads they are involved with similar to what a space vehicle would have.) What do you think?

Re:Google x-prize? (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405293)

The Google X-Prize is silly. The hard part of that prize is not the lander. The hard parts are getting your lander there in the first place, and the requisite high-bandwidth communications link back to Earth. Guidance when you can't use GPS is tricky, but easier than those two. (Detail work can be done inertially, but you also need a star tracker or similar baseline reference to work from.)

Any serious contender for the GXP needs to be planning to do a couple test flights if they want a serious hope of winning the prize. Right now there is no way to put a significant payload in Low Earth Orbit on a budget that would make that feasible, let alone on a Lunar transfer orbit. Therefore, if you want to make back any reasonable fraction of your budget with the prize, you *also* have the distinctly nontrivial task of building your own launcher capable of getting to a Lunar transfer orbit.

Now, that said, I fully expect to see Carmack and company build an orbital launcher one day. I expect that, after some development test flights, they'll get it working. But they won't do it on a schedule and budget that makes the GXP look anything other than laughably short-term.

Re:Google x-prize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405481)

"Now, that said, I fully expect to see Carmack and company build an orbital launcher one day. I expect that, after some development test flights, they'll get it working."

I'll bet it will be the same color as the Shuttle's external tank [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Google x-prize? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405933)

Perhaps, just perhaps, this will land on the moon within 2 years.

They'd have to figure out how to get it on a rocket and to work on the Moon first. Doesn't sound like a two year project to me even if you have someone with deep pockets backing it.

Re:Google x-prize? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406231)

Apple will not fund a thing that doesn't directly improve their bottom line.

good... so far (4, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404467)

They seemed to be attempting to land on the X, but gave up in the end. Having to put the thing out with a fire extinguisher is a bit worrying too. Otherwise, looks good.

However, the article really shouldn't say "claims prize" when they just didn't fail. The comp isn't even over yet!

Re:good... so far (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404509)

Actually... The rules are a bit interesting...

It's the first one to accomplish the ground rules correctly that wins the purse in question. This means there's a second prize shot at Level 1 and the two Level 1 ones were up for grabs. Now only the Level 1 and Level 2 second prizes are free. They did, in fact, win first place, being first at the Level 2 pass of things. It's only not over in the sense of all the purses not being won.

Re:good... so far (4, Informative)

Narishma (822073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405241)

That's not correct. First, they already won Level 1 last year, so there's only 2nd place of Level 1 available for grabs. This year the rules were changed a bit so that each team can try for the challenge at their home bases, and only Armadillo has so far. There are 2 other competitors that have yet to fly. If they succeed at the Level 2 then they will determine who gets first place by looking at who landed the closest to the center of the pad. So even though Armadillo succeeded, the other teams can still do better in theory and claim first place.

Re:good... so far (5, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404525)

It may be standard practise to put it out with an extinguisher. I was reading about a recent test of a much larger rocket (I forget the details), and it was suggested that it was doused with CO2 at the end not because it wouldn't burn out on its own, but to preserve the engine in whatever state it was at the end of the burn to allow more information to be extracted from it.

Re:good... so far (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29404869)

I was reading about a recent test of a much larger rocket (I forget the details), and it was suggested that it was doused with CO2 at the end not because it wouldn't burn out on its own, but to preserve the engine in whatever state it was at the end of the burn to allow more information to be extracted from it.

You may be thinking of the Ares rocket test a few days ago. YouTube has a video that includes CO2 at the end. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ixQigIsob3tfbvoJ86LbHGi1MSswD9AKOBOG0 [google.com]

Re:good... so far (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406723)

That's the one, thanks.

Re:good... so far (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404547)

As for the flames needing a fire extinguisher... Heh... I strongly suspect you'd have needed something along those lines for the primary thrusters on the Moon mission or the Space Shuttle rockets. Just because you cut off fuel flow, doesn't mean you don't have fuel still burning in the combustion chamber- you're just not supplying it any more when you do that. It's not like a jet engine or a car engine in several ways. And, I suspect that they put the fire out because of safety concerns rather than needing to. It'd burned for probably about another minute or so and then ran out of fuel in the chamber.

Re:good... so far (5, Informative)

gclef (96311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404549)

Wow...so many things wrong in so few sentences.

1) They landed on the X (well, with the X within the space defined by the legs of the craft). In fact, the craft didn't move much horizontally in the last 30 seconds or so...it pretty much hovered over the X for long enough to meet the 180 sec limit.

2) The flames were from the simulated lunar surface that it lit on fire, not the craft itself. If I were them, I wouldn't be too concerned with lighting the surface of the moon on fire...it seems unlikely.

3) The contest is run in stages, and there are prizes for being the first (and second) team to finish each stage, so they did in fact claim a prize for being the first to finish stage 2 of the contest. Yes, there is still a stage 3, and there is a separate prize for being the first to finish stage 3.

Re:good... so far (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404965)

I wouldn't be too concerned with lighting the surface of the moon on fire...it seems unlikely.

That's a bit of an understatement, considering that the moon has no athmosphere, let alone one out of oxygen. ;)

Re:good... so far (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405393)

Depending on the composition of a material it can burn in space but I doubt a moon/planet that has a massive quantity of oxidizer and fuel sources on the surface would stay that way very long. (All it would take would be heat generated by an impact, etc. to potentially set it off)

Re:good... so far (2, Informative)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405165)

The flames were from the simulated lunar surface that it lit on fire, not the craft itself.

OK, but the simulated lunar surface looks a lot like concrete. Also, they seem to have some inside their engine, as that's where the flames are coming from ;)

Re:good... so far (2, Informative)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405537)

Are you sure the flames were from the simulated lunar surface? It seemed to be coming out of the bottom of the rocket booster and then shooting towards the ground (3:15 in the first video). I think someone mentioned this was done intentionally to freeze the engine's state for further data collection purposes.

Though it does look like the safety personnel sprays the extinguisher at both the lunar pad and the booster.

not launch pad on fire Re:good... so far (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406151)

The launch pad is a form of concrete, and is not flammable.

The flames are coming from inside the engine, the engine uses the fuel (alcohol) to flow through cooling channels to cool the injectors in the combustion chamber.

When the main valves shut off, there's still some fuel remaining in the cooling channels and this tends to vapourise and burn off even after shutoff- but burning unevenly with the air, rather than the LOX. That's why it's a much cooler reddish flame rather than the much hotter blue flame exhaust in-flight.

Re:good... so far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29404857)

I don't think that 'X' was meant to be there at all.

If you look at the start of the video, you see some concrete fracturing from the heat and then being blown away by the engine exhaust.

The 'X' is a bit of metal rebar that was exposed when the concrete above it shattered.

Re:good... so far (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405501)

First off, the starting pad and the lunar pad are 2 different locations. The first is a normal flat concrete launch pad. The second is supposed to be a "simulated" lunar surface with rocks and craters. And if you look from the top-down view (around 2:39 in the first video), you can clearly see the "X"—that don't look like no rebar I ever seen. In fact, it looks suspiciously like the highly stylized, and quite distinct, "X" in the X-Prize logo.

Re:good... so far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405253)

Why would it matter that a fire extinguisher is necessary during testing? They are testing within an atmosphere that has oxygen...isn't that what is allowing the continuous burn after shutdown? On the moon I would think there would be far less residual burning due to lack of atmosphere.

Re:good... so far (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405557)

It's true; I hadn't thought of whether it was a problem on the moon. It just jumped out at me, as an inelegance in the design, which usually suggests that the whole thing could be done better. I mean, seriously... flames from the engine, lapping around the rest of the craft? It might still work, but it's far from pretty.

Re:good... so far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29406171)

"Pretty" is the last thing in consideration with spacecraft.

They aren`t making this rocket stuff to please your eye lol.

Re:good... so far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405471)

Having to put the thing out with a fire extinguisher is a bit worrying too.

I don't see this being a problem on the moon.

Re:good... so far (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406459)

Having to put the thing out with a fire extinguisher is a bit worrying too.

You got the part about this being designed for landing on the Moon, right? Perhaps you're unaware, but there's no atmosphere there.

Not impressed (3, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404543)

If they want a shot at faking another moonlanding they really need to hire a better set designer, that didn't look anything like the moon!

Re:Not impressed (3, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404689)

If they want a shot at faking another moonlanding they really need to hire a better set designer, that didn't look anything like the moon!

I had a great set for my faked Moon landing. It looked perfect as the rocket came down on its parachute! For some reason folks said it didn't look like a real Moon landing - go figure!

Re:Not impressed (2, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406301)

I had a great set for my faked Moon landing. It looked perfect as the rocket came down on its parachute! For some reason folks said it didn't look like a real Moon landing - go figure!

You silly, the parachute was too big! Everything is lighter on Moon, you need a smaller parachute.

There is no Moon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405729)

If they want a shot at faking another moonlanding they really need to hire a better set designer, that didn't look anything like the moon!

NO, YOU ARE WRONG! This was not a landing on Moon, but on Mars! Didn't you realize those Martians rushing up with their fire extinguishers?

Re:Not impressed (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406063)

If they want a shot at faking another moonlanding they really need to hire a better set designer, that didn't look anything like the moon!

How would anyone know?

Re:Not impressed (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406475)

How would anyone know?

From the previous movie, of course. You need to maintain continuity... unless this is supposed to be a "reboot"...

Rainy day ..... simulated moon landing? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404681)

on a rainy day at Caddo Mills, Texas ...

Surely that alone invalidates a simulated moon landing? (as would any cross winds)

Re:Rainy day ..... simulated moon landing? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404693)

Cross winds would surely be vastly more significant, but rain would be pretty much irrelevant when you consider the mass of the craft and the amount of thrust involved.

Re:Rainy day ..... simulated moon landing? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404767)

Surely that alone invalidates a simulated moon landing? (as would any cross winds)

That and the 6x stronger gravity...

I'd think doing the same thing on the Moon would be a lot easier - getting it there, and ensuring it works 100% of the time without the intervention of a man with a screwdriver... not so much.

Re:Rainy day ..... simulated moon landing? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29404937)

This is why this contest was for 3 minutes of hovering - with moon gravity, it translates to about 18 minutes of hovering, which is enough energy to softly land on or take of from the moon.

There are many things in this challenge that do not try to fully simulate the moon - they are not required to operate in heat or cold of the moon, hard vacuum, their vehicle even uses GPS for navigation.

The challenge simulates the most important part of lunar lander - vertical takeoff and landing, and prolonged hovering time.

Re:Rainy day ..... simulated moon landing? (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405419)

If manned/unmanned missions to the moon become more common there is always the possibility of a limited GPS system being put in place. Might make navigating unmanned missions easier as well as locating the lander after a longer trip. (Although the later could be taken care of by a tracking beacon as long as line of sight doesn't become a significant issue)

Re:Rainy day ..... simulated moon landing? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405667)

Definitely. And it did it quite well, actually. What makes it more impressive is the nature of the design- they're not using the same class of tech as NASA and other space agencies have used in the past. It's capable of the same, but it's cheaper and intrinsically more robust- dual systems, etc.

Re:Rainy day ..... simulated moon landing? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405641)

Actually, the winds are minimal today in this area. I wouldn't know whether they're up over in Caddo Mills, but it's been a slow, steady, soaking rain for the last two days in the area with no appreciable winds (Caddo Mills is roughly 20 or so minutes to the North and East of Dallas along I-30 in-between Rockwall and Greenville.).

Low or no winds would be close enough to the conditions for a test for the purposes of the prizes.

9tubgirL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29404705)

congratulations (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404711)

Nice thrust vectoring! Congratulations to all at Armadillo Aerospace!

My first thought was it was nice to see some money we spent years ago on Doom and the games built from that engine being put to good use.

I wish I had the math programming skills the he so fluidly can poor out. Truly impressive.

Second thought was John played to much lunar lander (ascii version) back in the day too. (chuckle)

Re:congratulations (1)

cyberthanasis12 (926691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405489)

Congrats to Carmack and Diamandis. We need more people like you.

Good Jorb! (1)

Froze (398171) | more than 4 years ago | (#29404743)

This is really good nerd news. Does anyone know of a more detailed account of the event? I used to follow their weekly news updates on all their internal progress and that was really enjoyable. However, it seems that lately they quit posting almost entirely, the last update was for May (http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home). I really wish there other technologically oriented blogs that detail development and results the way they do (did?).

twitter? (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405033)

posted videos and images using social networking tools such as Twitter

I didn't know you could fit videos or pictures in 140 characters. Did they use ascii art?

Re:twitter? (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405285)

But you can fit links to pictures and youtube videos in 140 characters.

Re:twitter? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406515)

I didn't know you could fit videos or pictures in 140 characters. Did they use ascii art?

It's a brand new technology called a "hyperlink".

Back away from the gopher...

budget (1)

bmorency (1221186) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405133)

Does anyone know how much money is needed to do a project like this? Is the $1 million more than enough to cover the cost?

Girlfriend's reaction (4, Funny)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405149)

My girlfriend* just walked in the room and saw me watching the video of the successful flight. All she said was "No, you can't have one."

To be fair, she was joking... I think.

* Don't even think about it.

Re:Girlfriend's reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407031)

Why is this funny? Whats the joke?

Re:Girlfriend's reaction (1)

whatajoke (1625715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407215)

My girlfriend* just walked in the room and saw me watching the video of the successful flight. All she said was "No, you can't have one." To be fair, she was joking... I think. * Don't even think about it.

Dude, you really think the nickname YourExperiment and the words My girlfriend are going to stop people from thinking what they are thinking?

It's not over yet; They didn't actually win (2, Informative)

chroma (33185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405239)

The summary is misleading. They didn't actually win the $1 million yet. Masten Space and Unreasonable Rocket are both going to have a crack at the prize and have until October 31 to best Armadillo's performance.

Re:It's not over yet; They didn't actually win (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405447)

So is the title. More appropriate would have been "Moved Into First Place for" instead of "Claims" but that doesn't fit on the screen as well.

Re:It's not over yet; They didn't actually win (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 4 years ago | (#29405947)

Claim is not the same as takes. Several people can claim first prize, but only one can take it. I can claim I didn't go to the pub last night, does that make it true ?

Other flying object (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405355)

There is another flying object in the second video at 2:16 - 2:20. I'm not saying it's a UFO, but I wonder what it is.

Re:Other flying object (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406555)

There is another flying object in the second video at 2:16 - 2:20. I'm not saying it's a UFO, but I wonder what it is.

Damn, good catch -- I had to watch several times to see it. Based on size (incredibly small) and relative speed (quite quick, indicating it's likely much closer to the camera than the rocket, further indicating small size to appear so small while that close), I'm gonna go with "insect".

Erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29405499)

Since when did the lunar surface have crates and boulders?

Re:Erm (2, Funny)

mobets (101759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406131)

Maybe the setup crew got confused when they saw Carmack and set up a simulated Mars surface instead.

Um... didn't we do this 40 years ago? (1)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406003)

Like, with slide rules?

Next there'll be a prize to build some kind of circuit that allows us to add binary numbers together. After that we can try to find a way to use steam to pump water out of mines.

Sheesh. At least they might have tried it with Martian conditions instead of lunar ones.

John Carmack is my autodidactical hero (1)

Money for Nothin' (754763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406017)

Not bad for a guy with no college degree!

(Disclaimer: I do have a BSCS. But there is no way I could accomplish the things Carmack has. By the time he was my age, Carmack was working on Quake 3. *sigh*)

Re:John Carmack is my autodidactical hero (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29406647)

So, go ahead and accomplish something? Surely there must be something that you're good at that overlaps with something you'd find desirable to achieve?

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