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Draft Rules for X Prize Lunar Lander Challenge

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the little-tougher-this-time dept.

175

IZ Reloaded writes "X Prize Foundation is asking the public to comment on the draft rules set for its lunar lander challenge. From Space.com: According to draft rules for the lunar lander contest, competitors will be challenged to build a vehicle capable of launching vertically, travel a distance of 328 to 656 feet (100 to 200 meters) horizontally, and then land at a designated site. A return trip would then occur between 5 minutes and 30 minutes later...Comments are sought by March 1 with initial sign-ups slated for May 15, according to draft rules, though Murphy added that the comment period could be extended to 30 days."

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175 comments

Commercial Moonlandings? (1)

AdolChristin (694990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788115)

Could this prize be an attempt to stimulate commercial moon landings alongside commercial spaceflight?

Re:Commercial Moonlandings? (3, Insightful)

Gherald (682277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788261)

> Could this prize be an attempt to stimulate commercial moon landings alongside commercial spaceflight?

Could such an obvious question be an attempt to stimulate a half-hearted chuckle or is the source more close linked with stupidity?

Re:Commercial Moonlandings? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788906)

Landing on the moon by travelling 300m requires having a bit of a head start...

WILDCAT IS ON TEH WINDOWS VISTA!!!`1 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788116)


Lunar masters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788119)

I for one welcome our lunar masters

Mythbusters (3, Funny)

iCharles (242580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788125)

Somehow, I think the Mythbusters will crank out an entry with the stuff around the shop...

Re:Mythbusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788286)

I would imagine that they are more then busy doing the TV show.

Re:Mythbusters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788414)

They could build one while attempting to debunk the myth that the moon landings were a hoax.
Buster won't need the Niel Armstrong ejection seat.

Re:Mythbusters (2, Informative)

natedubbya (645990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788497)

They had an episode where they tried to make a single-person jetpack, not too dissimilar from this, only on a smaller scale. It didn't go over too well, but they got close!

Episode 32: Jet Pack
In this "twin-taled" episode, Adam and Jamie embark on the longest and most ambitious build they've ever undertaken: creating their own personal flying machine from scratch. Are these machines as magnificent as their designers claim? To make the project more realistic, the two limit themselves to a build period of one month and a budget of $10,000. Then, the MythBuilders tackle the myth that preserving the pharaohs involved much more than mummification, that it was the shape of the pyramids themselves -- in particular, their cosmically inspired geometry -- that kept the bodies of Egyptian kings intact. Is it all a load of rot, or can the build team's homemade pyramids keep fruit fresh and razors sharp, as new-age gurus claim?

OUTGOING (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788135)

HELLO WORLD
88398 88398
HELLO WORLD
23601 23601 61081 61081 74087 74087 28478 28478 34364 34364
04455 04455 47752 47752 49303 49303 69581 69581 35298 35298
15348 15348 29607 29607 85316 85316 41450 41450 68892 68892
57580 57580 64020 64020 43627 43627 92822 92822 63320 63320
25645 25645 26254 26254 47199 47199
K-BYE

Time to go (1)

satcomdaddy1 (938185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788136)

Dig the X-wing fighter model rocket out of the closet!
Seriously, how does such a short flight establish anything? launch/land/relaunch has been around for quite a bit, no?

Re:Time to go (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788333)

Exactly. But cue the "This will lead to cheap spaceflight!" nuts anyway. Just because they call it a lunar lander doesn't mean it is anything at all like one by completing this task, just like the X-Prize vehicles weren't anything at all like orbital rockets (and no, they were not "stepping stones", either).

Re:Time to go (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788435)

That depends on your sense of scale. A raft designed to carry a hunter and his catch down a river without getting his feet wet isn't going to ever carry commercially significant quantities of commodity products through Pacific storms, but it got the ideas going for larger craft which eventually could. Space Ship One, similarly, won't ever see orbit, but it may have triggered the imagination for something that will at a better cost-per-mass ratio than we traditionally have seen.

Re:Time to go (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788532)

A hunter building a raft will have no impact on sailing through pacific storms if he builds it *after* real ships already sail through Pacific storms. SpaceShipOne's engine isn't going to inspire anything, because it's ISP is bad and is captive carry limited. Its skin won't inspire anything because it can't withstand real reentry heat. The cockpit won't inspire anything because it wouldn't withstand reentry either. Its tanks won't inspire anything because carbon fiber is already used in rocketry. Its captive carry flight won't inspire anything because it's as old as the space program, and currently launches rockets actually to *orbit* with the Pegasus.

SpaceShipOne was designed around the goal of completing the task at hand, nothing more. They chose an excellent strategy to complete the task at hand. The task at hand was nothing like orbital rocketry, but was instead much more comparable to high performance jet craft.

Wouldn't a fairer comparison be a pleasure yacht! (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14789061)

In a world where the only ocean going supertankers are government owned and nearing retirement. The X-Prise inspired an industry focused on making river boats into producing a sea going yacht.

Granted they may not be ready to cross the ocean or carry cargo, and the technology may never be adaptable to these tasks, but at least the industry has new horizons!

Re:Time to go (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14789016)

Just to further the comparison, I offer this: Lets compare this to the real LEM.

DM+LM Mass: 14,696 kg (these won't be even close).
LM mass: 4,547 kg.

Why was it so large? Because it had to handle a lunar descent and ascent, of course, with all the delta-V that implies, with several hundred kilograms of human payload, plus one-way scientific gear on the way down and sample returns on the way up.. Yet, its engines were small:

DM thrust: 4491 kgf (3.3 mass/thrust ratio)
LM thrust: 1588 kgf (2.9 mass/thrust ratio)

That's very low, because they don't need that much for liftoff/descent. For comparison, Saturn V's liftoff thrust was 3,440,310 kgf compared to a mass of 3,038,500 kg (0.9 mass/thrust ratio). These contest craft will have mass/thrust ratios somewhere at just over 1.

Given the huge delta-V requirements (nothing like getting off Earth, but still very significant; between descent and ascent, they need 4,700 m/s compared to the usual 10 or so to get to LEO), how did they manage? With good engines:

DM ISP: 311 sec
LM ISP: 311 sec

They're not great, but they're quite good. Most engines in this X-prize contest will probably be around 200 sec, which isn't even remotely close. Even 250 sec would require something to the effect of doubling the size of the Saturn V.

In short, what they're proposing isn't even slightly like a lunar lander. They're calling it a lunar lander just to make it sound more interesting. It is not.

You have the comparison wrong... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788623)

its not about the travel, its about the controls. It is strictly a controls problem. And on that level, it *is* a challenge.

Re:Time to go (1)

BiggerBoat (690886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788442)

Can your X-Wing fighter model rocket do the following:

- Take off from point A and land within 10 meters of point B which is 100 to 200 meters away from point A?

- Can it stay in the air 90 to 180 seconds between points?

- After landing at point B can it then repeat the above back to point A within 30 minutes?

- And in doing all of that, can it carry a 25kg payload?

If it can then, yeah, you better get it out and dust it off because it's worth a lot of money!

Re:Time to go (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788480)

Heck, with only 25kg payload , the Bell Rocket Belt [wikipedia.org] could almost do that (cut its payload mass by 60%, it should at least double it's flight time and range, probably more). This is a nothing task in terms of a real moon landing. It bothers the heck out of me when people take trivial tasks and act like they're just "One Step Away!" (TM) from a major task.

Re:Time to go (1)

BiggerBoat (690886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788600)

Heck, with only 25kg payload , the Bell Rocket Belt could almost do that

Too bad it's disqualified for having been developed with government money. And although the rules don't specify it yet, I suspect their definition of vehicle will end up clarifying that a rocket belt won't qualify as one.

It bothers the heck out of me when people take trivial tasks and act like they're just "One Step Away!" (TM) from a major task.

Well clearly, then, you are not the type of person these competitions are meant to inspire.

Re:Time to go (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788661)

Alas, the Bell rocket belt only had a flight duration time of about 20-25 seconds. It would need to extend that quite a bit.

(I had the fortune to see somebody fly one of these, live. At the noise level it operates, 20 seconds is plenty. Videos don't do it justice.)

Re:Time to go (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788739)

Wikipedia cites 30 seconds. "at least double" that due to the major payload reduction is "at least" 60 seconds out of the required 90.

Of course you'd need automated control of the nozzles, and that would add weight and complexity, and it still wouldn't reach the 90 second time requirement. However, this was just an example of how simple, how poor performing of a device we're talking about is needed to win such a challenge.

Does this count? (3, Funny)

FrontalLobe (897758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788152)

Practice/simulations here [thepcmanwebsite.com]

Re:Does this count? (1)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788395)

225. :( Skipped the 10 and ran into the big wall after the 60.

I wonder what score gets me $10,000.

Re:Does this count? (1)

aywwts4 (610966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788552)

So much easier than the original version I played on my 386, If you want to play it on the hard difficulty setting, find a copy and play it on a P4 :D

Got this one wired... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788154)

Hail the nearest Kangaroo...

Since the moon is 100 meters away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788157)

I'm amazed, they consider a launch for 100 to 200 meters will get them to the moon? Who'd a thunk?

(Is this run by a Quantum Computer?)

My Comment: (2)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788176)

Just friggin get on with it! The time has passed to sit around talking about it. It's been what? 30 years since we last landed on the moon? We need action!

Sorry, I'm bordering on rant status here...

Re:My Comment: (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788243)

It's been what? 30 years since we last landed on the moon?

Don't you mean it's been 30 years since NASA's moon landing hoax [nasa.gov] ? ;-)

Re:My Comment: (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788351)

Well, if all we need to do is FAKE it... Who needs X prizes? Just render the whole thing with CGI. I'm sure some geek could pull that off in his basement.

Re:My Comment: (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788619)

Strangely, even today our CGI technology is not up to the task of producing footage of the extent and nature of the Apollo footage, with high enough quality to fool both the human visual senses and the most advanced forensic analysis, and certainly not for less than it would cost to just conduct the damn project for real.

Re:My Comment: (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788830)

Who needs to fool forensic analysis? As is proved by the moon landing consiracy theorists, all you need to do is spread a rumor that the footage is fake/real and include some lies about how this or that doesn't (or does) make sense. The public is so dumb that they will submit to your power of suggestion regardless of if the assertions really do make sense.

Re:My Comment: (1)

TekPolitik (147802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788669)

Who needs X prizes? Just render the whole thing with CGI. I'm sure some geek could pull that off in his basement.

His name is Stephen Spielberg. His basement is just so bloody big it won't fit under his house.

Re:My Comment: (1)

satcomdaddy1 (938185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788306)

And what is the point of another moon shot? the first one netted jack/shit.
Sure, the RACE to the moon was full of innovation, but other than really proving it wasn't made of cheese, it was a more colossal waste of cash than both Gulf Wars put together!

Re:My Comment: (2, Funny)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788409)

I for one look forward to mining the moon for all it's available natural resources. I'm sure there has to be some useful minerals in it's composition and if there is ice on it, that will be helpful to keep my drink cold.

Re:My Comment: (4, Informative)

yeremein (678037) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788641)

Sure, the RACE to the moon was full of innovation, but other than really proving it wasn't made of cheese, it was a more colossal waste of cash than both Gulf Wars put together!

The cost of the Apollo program was $135 billion [wikipedia.org] in 2005 dollars.

George Sr.'s Gulf war cost $61 billion [wikipedia.org] . The cost of the current Iraq war is in excess of $240 billion [nationalpriorities.org] and rising. Apollo didn't even come close.

Re:My Comment: (2, Insightful)

jheath314 (916607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788715)

Not sure if you're being sarcastic, but I for one would argue that taking the first steps towards human interplanetary and interstellar travel were worth a lot more than fighting some stupid wars. Developing the technology to go to the moon is one thing, but there is no substitute for proving you can by actually doing it.

Here's a Solution (4, Funny)

sbowles (602816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788197)

By the summary, it sounds like a Helicopter could win this.

Re:Here's a Solution (3, Informative)

Michael Duggan (124223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788259)

: By the summary, it sounds like a Helicopter could win this.

3.2.18.1 Take-off vertically under only rocket power from Point A. No aerodynamic or air-breathing methods of hovering, propulsion, or landing are permitted except in the case of abort.

Re:Here's a Solution (1)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788284)

3.2.18.1 Take-off vertically under only rocket power from Point A. No aerodynamic or air-breathing methods of hovering, propulsion, or landing are permitted except in the case of abort.

I don'tsee how this would work in space. In a vacuum what would the blades of the chopper push against to provide lift? No atmosphere :D

Re:Here's a Solution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788314)

No aerodynamic or air-breathing methods of hovering, propulsion, or landing are permitted except in the case of abort.

WHEW! scared me for a sec, 'cause my girlfriend totally used an air-breathing method of hovering when she got her abortion... Glad they put that exception in there.

Re:Here's a Solution (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788621)

Yes, takeoff. Strap some rockets to a small helicopter, just enough to get it 100 meters up and hold it there while you start up the engines, and you're set. Or, use rockets to propel a small airplane vertically over 100 meters (although you'd need to land vertically). Or a blimp. Heck, even a glider plus parachute for the vertical landing - you only need to stay up for 90 seconds and you don't have to stay over the 100 meter initial requirement, plus you have at least five minutes to re-pack your parachute. You'd have to have an extra "engine" to start up and shut down near the end in such a case, however (rule 3.2.18.5)

This looks like a hole in the rules to me. Only takeoff specifies rocket power only and no aerodynamic influences. I suppose you could read the second sentence as applying to all sections, but that would be a strange way to read it since this section is presented sequentially as a series of tasks. Especially since the second takeoff re-mentions the powering limitations, which would seem to indicate that it *doesn't* apply to all tasks.

Re:Here's a Solution (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788784)

One really big thing they're overlooking in their challenge is the fact that lunar gravity is only 1/16 of Earth's. Doing this on Earth is ridiculously difficult by comparison.

Re:Here's a Solution (1)

johno.ie (102073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788883)

So do it on the moon then. I'm sure the X-Prize Foundation would be happy to give the prize to you. :)

Re:Here's a Solution (1)

BiggerBoat (690886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788966)

One really big thing they're overlooking in their challenge is the fact that lunar gravity is only 1/16 of Earth's.

They're overlooking no such thing. Here is their goal:

The (TITLE) Lunar Lander Challenge is designed to accelerate technology developments supporting the commercial creation of a vehicle capable of ferrying cargo or humans between lunar orbit and the lunar surface.

A vehicle cabable of doing the tasks necessary to win this prize on the Earth should be in the performance ballpark necessary to take off from the moon's surface and get to Lunar orbit, then return, or vice-versa. That is the goal.

Oh, and I assume you meant the Moon's gravity is 1/6th that of Earth's.

Re:Here's a Solution (1)

Matimus (598096) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788970)

I will admit that I'm ignorant on the subject. The 100 meters isn't very far by comparison to how far you would have to go to get into lunar orbit (assuming you would use the lander to get into lunar orbit from the moon's surface).

Open source rules (1)

jsherman256 (921052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788212)

Sounds like they are trying to improve the contest rules the open source way :)

Manned or unmanned? (3, Interesting)

kclittle (625128) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788219)

TFA doesnt' specify...

Re:Manned or unmanned? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788842)

The rules seem to suggest unmanned but don't prohibit manned. Of course if the person aboard is piloting the thing, then he counts as part of the weight of the control system and not the 25kg (minimum) payload.

Re:Manned or unmanned? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788843)

Well, that brings up the next question: can we use cyborgs if manned, or can women be pilots?

And is it ok to use cybernetically enhanced space monkeys? They have a lot less mass, and were in space long before humans were.

figures (5, Funny)

SgtXaos (157101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788220)

"Comments are sought by March 1 with initial sign-ups slated for May 15, according to draft rules, though Murphy added that the comment period could be extended to 30 days."

Murphy always makes things take longer than you planned...

Re:figures - (Hofstadter's Law) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788453)

Hofstadter's Law:

It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

Uhm... (1)

connah0047 (850585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788230)

Someone ought to tell them 200 meters won't quite get you on the moon...

Real Simulation? (2, Interesting)

Araxen (561411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788237)

I think instead of 5 or 30 minutes after landing it should be 24 hours or so to win. Why would anyone go to the moon and only spend 30 minutes there?

Very cool, but.... (3, Funny)

smaerd (954708) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788238)

...these rules make me think of one thing: NASCAR.

Now all we need is guys driving 4x4s with gun racks, Confederate Flags, Calvin pissing on a [automotive brand] logo, and an X-Prize stencil on or around the back window.

(seriously, the I think the X-Prize is an incredibly awesome thing... this idea just made me chuckle.)

Re:Very cool, but.... (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788296)

(seriously, the I think the X-Prize is an incredibly awesome thing... this idea just made me chuckle.)

Made me chuckle too, I read the title as "Daft Rules for X Prize Lunar Lander Challenge"

Re:Very cool, but.... (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788303)

Now all we need is guys driving 4x4s with gun racks, Confederate Flags, Calvin pissing on a [automotive brand] logo, and an X-Prize stencil on or around the back window.

Well if it gets the general public interested in space then I'm all for it.

Re:Very cool, but.... (2, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788336)

> Now all we need is guys driving 4x4s with gun racks, Confederate Flags, Calvin pissing on a [automotive brand] logo, and an X-Prize stencil on or around the back window.

Close, no cigar. Back on Earth, would break out the Photoshop, make cut-paste thing.

- Lunar buggy.
- Way too much air in right-hand-side tires.
- Mass driver.
- "Free Luna!" flag.
- Cartoon Burt Rutan pissing on a NASA logo.
- Drive clockwise around crater rim.

> (seriously, the I think the X-Prize is an incredibly awesome thing... this idea just made me chuckle.)

Mycroft wonders if chuckle is funny-once or funny-all-the-time. Crazy thing. (Luna ain't only harsh mistress around here. Should see Moondot moderators someday.)

1st contestant (1)

Greger47 (516305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788297)

Well, it looks like Carmack and company [armadilloaerospace.com] have this one pretty much nailed. Liftoff! [armadilloaerospace.com]

/greger

Rope and missile. (3, Funny)

xanderwilson (662093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788305)

So you attach a rope to a missile, fire the missile at the moon, and then pull it back when you're done. What's the problem here?

Re:Rope and missile. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788562)

C'mon - use your head dude. Do you want to be the guy who's pulling on the rope that brings down a missle from how many thousands of Kilometers in the sky? you'll be crushed ... you're just not thinking.

What gravitational field? (1)

miniver (1839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788312)

I just read the rules, and it talks about the contest being held in a "simulated lunar surface". Where are they planning on simulating 1/6G on Earth? Or are they intending that a craft designed for operating on the lunar surface should also be capable of operating on the Earth's surface too?

Re:What gravitational field? (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788649)

Probably they mean "simulated with regard to terrain".

Unless the people putting in all of this intense thought and effort into the prospect of moon landings are so completely stupid that they seriously thought they were going to invent anti-gravity just to simulate the moon's mass for their contest.

Although I have to admit that it would be a pretty big ego boost for you, if they did happen to overlook that particularly obvious problem, while you were able to pick up on it right away without giving the matter much thought at all. You should look into it.

Is this a joke? (2, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788315)

Because launching from the earth is the same? Clearly I'm not a rocket scientist, but with 1/6th the gravity, wouldn't it take far less propulsion to get off the ground on the moon?

Also: traveling horizontally for 100-200m? I'm guessing there are more crosswinds on earth than on the moon. Also, once again, the same thrust that might move you 100m on the moon wouldn't move you 10m on earth. This seems like a ridiculous standard to meet, and it's going to require far more engineering to accomplish than is necessary for lunar travel.

Or am I missing some large part of the puzzle here, like their .15Gee test field?

Re:Is this a joke? (2, Insightful)

twostar (675002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788456)

The idea is that if it can do 100-200m on earth it can do much more on the Moon. The whole system is suppose to show capability of a Lunar transit system.

From the Draft:
The (TITLE) Lunar Lander Challenge is designed to accelerate technology developments supporting the commercial creation of a vehicle capable of ferrying cargo or humans between lunar orbit and the lunar surface.
Since the moon does not have an appreciable atmosphere, if the system can meet the goals on earth it shouldn't have any problems on the moon. The big problems are developing the propulsion systems cheap and light enough. Turning them on and off at different times doesn't change much in the scheme of things if they can provide enough thrust at the right times.

Re:Is this a joke? (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788466)

Well, for one thing, it's a heck of a lot easier to get your lander and all it's fuel to the earth than the moon.

Re:Is this a joke? (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788487)

Easy. They just fly everybody to the moon to test their landers under those rules.

Re:Is this a joke? (1)

Xeirxes (908329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788614)

Think about this logically.

1. If they create a ship with this power on earth, then they can easily streamline it if it ever needs to be used in a lunar environment. It's better to start off making a craft with excess power than it is to start off making one with a lack of power.

2. It may prove to be a more important thing to see a craft that can navigate the TERRAIN on the moon, not just the different gravity environment.

3. Holding a contest like this will further the development of future crafts, and so is beneficial to the overall goal of getting to the moon, whether or not the craft that is created here is used there. It also adds a competitive edge which can spur the makers on.

Re:Is this a joke? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14789036)

I understand the "if it will work on earth, it will definately work on the moon" concept, but it seems like requiring it to work on earth first constrains the possibile solutions. Again, I'm no rocket scientist, and perhaps any solution which would perform the necessary actions on the moon would, by definition, be able to complete the test on earth. It just seems like flight is a lot more difficult on earth because of its atmosphere where you have to worry about things like aerodynamics. (I imagine that anything that reaches 600ft would achieve a velocity high enough that drag is a factor.)

I mean, would the lunar lander from the Apollo program work on earth at all? It seems like the tin-can shape alone and lack of any aerodynamic controls would cause it to tumble and crash.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788328)

Linux is STILL for fags.

Comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788330)

..shouldn't we be designing a Martian Lander instead?

Why are we even going back to the Moon anyways? By the time we get there China will have claimed it as part of their 'Democracy' anyways...

Armadillo tailored contest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788341)

Sounds like this is the competition armadillo aerospace is supposed to win.

Nitro Burning Funny Lander (1)

radiumhahn (631215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788348)

competitors will be challenged to build a vehicle capable of launching vertically, travel a distance of 328 to 656 feet (100 to 200 meters) horizontally, and then land at a designated site. A return trip would then occur between 5 minutes and 30 minutes later...

Mine is going to have a spoiler and spinner hub caps too! And wicked flames!

Realistic moon conditions.. (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788354)

The draft of the rules mention that you need to use rocket power, and not some kind of aerodynamic lift, but that's it. I think they should specify a more realistic conditions of the moon. Obviously you can't have it fly in a vacuum, but you could expose the craft to a vacuum before the flight to make sure it can survive a vacuum. You could do the same thing with the temperature extremes. At the very least a craft shouldn't be able to rely upon earth based navigation aids, like GPS, the suns position in the sky, or even the earths magnetic field.

Re:Realistic moon conditions.. (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788639)

Is GPS really unusable near the moon?

One fellow I spoke with once who, well, was a rocket scientist, said that GPS can be used in earth orbit, but you typically need to use specialized code that, for example, doesn't assume that the receiver will be under (that is, nearer to the center of the earth) the satellites.

So GPS can be used in space, but there is probably a limit to how far away it could be used. The satellite antennas are optimized to send signals towards the surface, and at some point the delta between the distances to the satellites probably get too small to be useful (as you get further away, the angles between the satellites get small).

Alas, I don't know how to do the math to find out how far away from the Earth you need to be to make GPS useless.

Re:Realistic moon conditions.. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788804)


Is GPS really unusable near the moon?


There are two problems, both of which I think makes GPS unseable on the moon.

1. Signal strength. The moon is about 240,000 miles from the earth. The GPS satelites are at about 12,000 miles. Maybe you can have a very high gain antenna to boost the signal, but signal strength is going to be a problem.

2. Lack of triangulation. As you pointed out because of the extreme distance, you're not going to get very good triangulation from any of the satelites. Assuming you could get a signal, your degree of innacuracy is going to be rather large because of the poor triangulation. I'm not sure exactly how to do the math here, but my gut feeling is that this is going to make GPS pretty useless on the moon. You might be able to determine you're on the moon, or even in the Sea of Tranquility, but that's not exactly terribly usefull to the competition

Triangualtion? what triangulation? (1)

astro-g (548659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788930)

its all based on timing differences between the satalites,
the reciever has no idea at all which way its pointing, and it doesnt care.
It cannot measure angle between the satalites, only relative distance

Re:Realistic moon conditions.. (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14789012)

3. Wouldn't work quite so well on the "dark side" of the moon!

Wow, controlled hover with a rocket. (1)

nkntr (583297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788361)

Very tricky, indeed. This is harder than it appears at first glance. Anyone can set off a time release bomb that blows it's wad, propelling a ballistic projectile into the air, but it is a bit harder to either: [ (1) stage a series of rockets to create equilibrium with gravity or (2) use a single rocket with a controllable thrust. ] But then you have the problem of attitude adjustment (keeping the rocket's business end pointed at the ground without wind resistance/fins keeping the mechanism pointing straight) and horizontal movement, also while keeping attitude adjustment in check. On top of that, add 25Kg of mass. Not an easy trick at all.

Re:Wow, controlled hover with a rocket. (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788625)

It's a piece of cake (well, relatively) with rockets if you're not using solids.

The old Bell rocketpack (as seen in the opening sequence of "Thunderball", among many others) is one such, using a hydrogen peroxide monopropellant and two nozzles. All guidance and control provided by the pilot.

The more recent DC-X, using LH2/LOX in four modified RL-10 engines (modified mostly to operate at sea level by cutting back the engine bells) did this just fine. As of course did the Apollo LM descent module, using hypergolic propellants and a deeply throttlable engine.

The SDI project tested some interceptors (Brilliant Pebbles) not much bigger than a breadbox -- I've seen video footage of one such hovering (indoors!) on its attitude jets while pivoting to track a target.

But yeah, solids suck.

Re:Wow, controlled hover with a rocket. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788709)

Years ago it may have been complicated to do something like that. In the age of solid state accelerometers setting up a fairly cheap computer controlled stability system isn't really that hard at all. The problem isn't so different from keeping a quad-rotor craft stable in flight, and I've seen one of them designed and flown by my fellow aerospace students. If students can cheaply put together a system to keep an inherently unstable craft stable, I doubt that's going to be the major concern of the people working on this problem. I'd actually like to take a crack at this myself. This sounds a bit more accessable than flying a plane to the edge of space.

Did they say Moon or Dune? (1)

dbamazing (923759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788376)

Wonder if they have to include a module to avoid the worms when they approach, so the spice will be safe...
Moon dust expands conciousnes

Armadillo Aerospace (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788402)

This sounds like it was written to the give funding and publicity to Armadillo Aerospace. If they would have remembered to keep their rocket fueled, they would been doing this a year and a half ago.

http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Ho me/News?news_id=272 [armadilloaerospace.com]

If they put their mind to it they should be able to fullful this challenge in a number of weeks.

Excellent! (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788429)

Now all that time I wasted playing Lunar Lander in high school might just pay off!

Tough. (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788640)

To make the specifications specific enough that you get something useful but not so specific you don't allow for unique thought.

Go to the moon, eh? (1)

PatTheGreat (956344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788654)

Why don't they just make the prize for actually getting to the moon? The original X-Prize wasn't won for years, so why make the next one easy? If they really wanted to incorporate their signature do it twice in a row method, they could maybe have the people launch into space, come back, and then go to the moon. That would be cool.

why take off vertically, inefficient anyone? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788666)

Vertical takeoff is highly inefficient, why does it "have" to be vertical takeoff, why not horizontal like a plane? make use of air's capacity to lift, and the fact that it's easier to move forward than straight up against gravity.

Re:why take off vertically, inefficient anyone? (1)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788710)

No air on the moon, hence to aerodynamic "lift"

Re:why take off vertically, inefficient anyone? (2, Insightful)

BiggerBoat (690886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788764)

why does it "have" to be vertical takeoff, why not horizontal like a plane? make use of air's capacity to lift

Because this is meant to simulate a Lunar Lander.

Sounds like like a Hawker Harrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788682)

Isnt that what they do?

First Rule for a Lunar Lander contest (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788700)

You have to make it back.

Otherwise, it's kind of pointless, don't you think?

Second rule is, nobody talks about Lunar Landing Contests! ...

Dang, guess I can't compete. Good thing Paul Allen can take my place with his super secret company on the Seattle waterfront that noone knows is designing and building spacecraft and that you can see with Google Earth ...

Feet (1)

msbsod (574856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788723)

It just amazes me to see that they still deal with these stupid imperial units. Remember when Lockheed Martin's engineers caused the loss of a NASA Mars probe because Lockheed Martin still has not adapted the metric system, which 95% of the world use, including NASA? Or take the Spaceshipone mission. At first nobody knew whether they reached the goal of 100km altitude, because the Spaceshipone team used another imperial unit, the mile? The problem was that people use a ratio of 1.6 km/mile. The actual factor is 1.61. The whole world is laughing about this. One unit per physical quantity, only factors of 10 - that's it. Please, adapt. My grandmother mastered this little step for mankind.

Re:Feet (1)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788831)

It's 1.609344 kilometers per mile. If you're going to be pedantic, do it right.

Re:Feet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14788917)

Is that a wet foot or a dry foot? How about the ounces, solid or liquid? Do you still use stones?

Can we use the space elevator for liftoff? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788732)

That would solve a lot of problems, and make it really easy to beat out all the other competition, IMHO.

And, also, is it ok if my Lunar Lander mates with another Lunar Lander and forms a vastly improved Lunar Lander, like in those anime shows like Vandread? And, if that's ok, can they make sure the other pilots are like the pilots on that show? Well, except for the being a prisoner part ....

Me, I'm waiting for the teleporter to be built.

Daft Rules ... (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788880)

"Daft Rules for X Prize Lunar Lander Challenge"

I'll say.. oh wait..

Atari (1)

scolen2 (956819) | more than 8 years ago | (#14788881)

How about each entry has to make a flight sim that runs on a Atari 2600. Luner Lander - X-prize edition!

Original Lunar Lander ... (1)

ta ma de (851887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14789021)

Seemed to work just fine. Why not copy that?
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