Sunday, April 20, 2008

Multi-Team Lunar Lander Challenge Update

RLV News has been keeping up with the X PRIZE Cup and Lunar Lander Challenge. Here are a number of posts, some with news on multiple teams:

Briefs: Speedup testing; BonNova engine test; Unreasonable stainless steel - This one includes a BonNova hot-fire test video (here's the BonNova YouTube Channel and BonNova News), a Wyoming Tribune-Eagle Online article on a SpeedUp test at the local Frontier Astronautics test site, and a pretty detailed Unreasonable Rocket engineer design drawing and machine shop post with some helpful-sounding (to my non-engineer ears) comments.

Briefs: Unreasonably close to flight tests; X P Cup; Space Elevator Challenge - I've covered the SE Challenge part, but this one also has another recent Unreasonable Rocket post and an assessment of the overall 2008 X PRIZE Cup.

An October rocket party - This one recounts Yuri's Night, and suggests a night program for the X PRIZE Cup:

This got me to thinking that it would be great if a future X PRIZE Cup included an evening program with space-themed music and arts. Instead of a Burning Man, the highlight, so to speak, could be an after dark exhibition flight by a VTOL vehicle like Mod or Pixel.

I haven't been to any of the X PRIZE Cups, so I don't have a good sense of how much of this kind of thing they have. I thought (but I could be wrong) that at one point one was supposed to have a kid-oriented night program with outdoor movies and astronauts speaking. My impression is that the actual Cups have closed down at evening.

A lot of outdoor festival of course have multiple types of art. A music festival might have an art/craft area, and an art festival might have a music area. An air show might also have various vendors including airplane art. It seems to make sense to include something like this in the day program, especially if there are "down times" between rocket flights or there are families where not every family member is a rocket fan, but might enjoy a moderate amount of rocketry mixed with related music/art.

As for a night program, that also makes a lot of sense to me. An onsite program would be cool, perhaps allowing some night-time rocket flames (on the ground if safety doesn't allow it in the air). If it can't happen onsite, maybe some kind of off-site space party, movie, performance, or other activity would be fun.

It would also be cool for spectators and teams to have some kind of pre-LLC competition, perhaps with cash prizes, for teams that haven't reached the point where they have FAA approval to fly, but where they can competitively demonstrate their progress on the ground.