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Moon Space NASA

Lunar Lander Challenge Ends in Fire, Disappoinment 123

mikesd81 writes "The rocketeers at Armadillo Aerospace, thwarted by engine problems and other mechanical failures, left this year's X Prize Cup empty-handed after their spacecraft burst into flames on liftoff Sunday. An attempt on Sunday to hop from launch and landing pads ended with the MOD craft bursting in flames shortly after engine ignition. This is the team's second attempt at the challenge in New Mexico, they were the only entrant in last year's event, which they also lost. Brett Alexander, Executive Director of Space Prizes and the X Prize Cup relayed a comment from John Carmack, leader of the Armadillo team: "Today is officially a bad day when it comes to our vehicle." The last attempt to win the $350,000 Level 1 prize on Sunday ended when the MOD vehicle had an engine fire, with pieces coming off, including disconnected cabling. Clearly, there was a fire on the pad that burned for a while — but then went out. The Armadillo team called a safety emergency, requesting fire truck assistance, Alexander said."
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Lunar Lander Challenge Ends in Fire, Disappoinment

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  • by ZonkerWilliam (953437) * on Monday October 29, 2007 @10:33AM (#21157461) Journal
    Shows just how tough it really is. Should get bonus money just for launching.
  • Sad story. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JK_the_Slacker (1175625) on Monday October 29, 2007 @10:35AM (#21157487) Homepage

    I for one welcome our new flaming deathtrap overlords.

    But in all seriousness, I'm glad we found this out BEFORE trying it on the moon. I wish them better luck, and better engineering, in the next go-round.

  • by StressGuy (472374) on Monday October 29, 2007 @10:36AM (#21157491)
    It's a difficult challenge...initial failures are to be expected. Often times, breaking this kind of ground is more about tenacity than anything else.

    They'll get it eventually, and when they do (given that they are ID), I hope the headline reads "EXCELLENT!....IMPRESSIVE!"

  • "robust"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday October 29, 2007 @10:51AM (#21157663)

    Pete Worden, a Lunar Lander Challenge judge - and director of NASA's Ames Research Center, told that the engine blew up, with the rocket's engine chamber tossing out pieces onto the pad. "It's over for them for this X Prize Cup," Worden said. But he added: "I do think they are getting's a robust design.

    That's one exciting definition of robust :-)

  • by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Monday October 29, 2007 @11:19AM (#21157959)
    except NASCAR is pointless, trivial, and intellectually vapid. I might consider NASCAR worthy of something other than scorn if the course was something other than an oval, the automobiles were technologically sophisticated (who wants to drive a Monte Carlo?), and the drivers didn't all talk like Cletus Spuckler.

    Brandine: "Dang, Cletus! Why'd you have to park so close to my parents?"
    Cletus: "Now honey, they's mah parents too!"
  • by Jim Morash (20750) on Monday October 29, 2007 @01:15PM (#21159419)
    "Once again, it proves that rocket science is hard."

    Gaaah! Rocket science is not hard, you can pretty much sum it up with Newton's Laws.

    Rocket engineering is hard. But engineers get no respect.
  • by Quadraginta (902985) on Monday October 29, 2007 @01:20PM (#21159471)
    I mean, now that we know it's difficult to work with high-energy equipment, can we stop thinking NASA is a bunch of dunderheads for having the three very bad days (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia) across half a century of otherwise amazing success?
  • Re:Points to make (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Monday October 29, 2007 @01:57PM (#21160051)
    Their problem is that they are (mostly) a bunch of software guys that think they can cobble some hardware together and make it work with a complete lack of engineering rigor. You can't deny their persistence and the amount of success they have earned over the years. If you take a look through their weblog, though, you will see tons of shoddy workmanship, even on elementary, low-tech stuff like wiring. They've got the engines themselves to a reasonably advanced stage of development but everything else is crap save for the software.

"Though a program be but three lines long, someday it will have to be maintained." -- The Tao of Programming