Members only

Your unique access to CSF latest content and events.

CSF Congratulates Winners of NASA’s $2 Million Lunar Lander Challenge

Washington, D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation congratulates Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California, and Armadillo Aerospace, of Rockwall, Texas, for their success in NASA’s $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. The prize money was awarded by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in ceremony yesterday in Washington, DC. The two winning companies qualified for the prize, which is managed by the X PRIZE Foundation, by building and flying vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles that hovered for up to 180 seconds, translated horizontally, landed under rocket power, and repeated the feat in two hours.

“We commend Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace for their tremendous success in NASA’s Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge,” said Bretton Alexander, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “High flight rates and quick turnaround are exciting features of this new era of commercial spaceflight, and we look forward to seeing these vehicles climb to higher and higher altitudes in the months ahead.”

Distinguished speakers in yesterday’s Capitol Hill prize ceremony in Washington, DC, included:
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator;
Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP);
Dr. Peter Diamandis, X PRIZE Foundation Chairman;
Dr. George Nield, Associate Administrator of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation;
Representative Ralph Hall (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the House Science Committee;
Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), Member of the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee;
Mitch Waldman, Vice President for Business Development at Northrop Grumman;
Doug Comstock, NASA Innovative Partnerships Program Director.

Additional guests at the event included Representative Parker Griffith (D-Alabama), Member of the House Space Subcommittee; Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator; and George Whitesides, NASA Chief of Staff.

David Masten, CEO of Masten Space Systems, stated, “We’d been building our vehicles before the prize started, but the NASA prize was a great incentive along the path towards the market for flying low-cost science and educational payloads. Now we are going beyond the prize and will be flying higher and faster in the coming months. High-altitude flights of aerospace R&D payloads, science experiments, and educational payloads are planned for 2010.”

Phil Eaton, VP of Operations at Armadillo Aerospace, stated, “We see more than a prize – we see the growth of the commercial space industry.”

Bretton Alexander added, “The diverse range of speakers at the prize ceremony, from NASA and FAA to Congress, signals the level of support and encouragement that the commercial spaceflight industry is receiving from policymakers in Washington DC. This week’s ceremony represents another exciting milestone for an industry that has made tremendous strides in the last few years.”

In order to meet the requirements of the Lunar Lander Challenge, the Masten and Armadillo vehicles had to ascend to a height of 50 meters, translate horizontally to a landing pad 50 meters away, land safely on another pad after 90 seconds of flight time (for Level 1), or 180 seconds of flight time (for Level 2), and then repeat the flight. $350,000 was awarded last year to Armadillo Aerospace, and at this year’s prize ceremony a total of $1,650,000 was awarded to Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace for successfully completed flights.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. CSF member organizations include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, and spaceports. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is governed by a board of directors, composed of the member companies’ CEO-level officers and entrepreneurs. For more information please visit or contact Executive Director John Gedmark at or at 202.349.1121.