Posted: Tue, Nov 3, 2009, 7:47 AM ET (1247 GMT)
NASA confirmed late Monday that it will award $1.65 million in prizes to two teams who carried out flights as part of the Lunar Lander Challenge competition. Masten Space Systems of California will receive the $1 million first prize for the competition's Level Two, having carried out a qualifying flight last week. Masten wil also get $150,000 for taking second place in Level One with a flight early last month. Armadillo Aerospace will get $500,000 for second place in Level Two; it carried out its qualifying flight in September but Masten had a better landing accuracy, which serves as the tiebreaker. The money comes from NASA's Centennial Challenges prize program, which provided $2 million to have teams demonstrate technologies that could be used for future lunar landers as well as terrestrial suborbital vehicles, which both companies are actively developing. The competition was administered by the X PRIZE Foundation and sponsored by Northrop Grumman.