A rocket powered vehicle successfully completed the first step toward qualifying to win a $1 million prize for NASA's Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Armadillo Aerospace's "Scorpius" lander set world records for vertical landings and takeoff flights by flying up 50 meters (164 feet) into the air, maneuvering over to land on a simulated rocky lunar surface 50 meters (164 feet) away, and then rising and flying back to land where it started. The flight included a requirement of at least 180 seconds of flying time. Watch the video from the second qualifying flight here. Armadillo is the first team of three teams looking to nab the prize this year.
"It's a great day here, it was a beautiful flight," said Peter Diamandis, CEO of the XPrize Foundation. "The vehicle from team Armadillo has made its second successful flight . Over the next few months if another team is able to make this level two flight as well, it will be the difference between the landing position and how far off the center of the pad that determines the winner."
Scorpius, weighs about 1900 pounds fully fueled. The vehicle made its flight at the Caddo Mills Airport in Texas, where Armadillo Aerospace's facilities are based.
NASA will award the $1 million prize for Level 2 this year after all the teams entered in the Challenge have a chance to compete. Other teams are Masten Space Systems and Unreasonable Rocket, who hope to make attempts soon, and the deadline for making the flight is October 31, 2009.
Armadillo won Level 1 of last year in October, garnering the $350,000 prize for a flight of 90 seconds.
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