Lunar Lander Challenge: interview with William Pomerantz

I missed this Oct, 2007 Pomerantz interview…

The big event at X Prize Cup 2007 is the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, in which DIY engineers try and fly their homemade rockets from one concrete pad to another, 100 meters away. NASA put up the $2 million in prize money, hoping they’ll get a sense of how a new generation of mooncraft might look. Instead of paying hundreds of millions to a giant corporation for paper plans, NASA, along with Northrop Grumman, is checking out the crowd-sourcing approach to space exploration. I spoke to William Pomerantz, the director of Space Projects for The X Prize Foundation and the man overseeing the competition.

Wired News: Give me a walk-through of the challenge.

William Pomerantz: It’s an annual competition for teams that can build a rocket that has the power required to go from lunar orbit to lunar surface and back. As you know, NASA said they’ll be going back to the moon, for human missions, and other governments have said they’ll do the same.

The Apollo LM (lunar module), which was built by the Grumman corporation and that did the job every time and did it perfectly, has been retired. They are all in museums. No one has tried to do that job again in the last 35 years. Right now there is not a spacecraft that can do the job.

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