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Armadillo falls short in first bid to win lander prize
Posted: Sun, Oct 28, 2007, 8:35 AM ET (1235 GMT)
Armadillo Aerospace Mod vehicle in flight at 2007 XP Cup (J. Foust) Armadillo Aerospace came within ten seconds of winning level one of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge competition Saturday at the X Prize Cup before an engine failure caused the vehicle to fall and tip over. Armadillo flew its "Mod" vehicle Saturday afternoon at Holloman AFB in New Mexico to try and claim the $350,000 prize offered by NASA's Centennial Challenge program for a vehicle that can fly to 50 meters altitude, translate 100 meters, and land after remaining in the air for at least 90 seconds, then make a return trip. Mod flew the first leg of the mission without problems, but suffered a hard start of its engine at the beginning of the return flight, a problem believed to be linked to a clogged injector. The engine continue to run, but failed about 83 seconds after launch, with Mod hovering over its landing pad; the vehicle fell and tipped over. Armadillo plans to replace the vehicle's engine chamber and another component and fly again Sunday morning in the second and final day of the event. Armadillo, the only team flying in this year's competition, also has another vehicle that can fly the more challenging Level 2 flight if they first win Level 1.
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