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First 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Attempts Announced! August 28, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Google Lunar X Prize, lander, Lunar Lander Challenge 2009, Youtube , add a comment

Over at the  X PRIZE Foundation‘s official blog The Launch Pad, they announced the official attempt dates for this year’s Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge!

This year’s format is different than last year‘s—instead of the teams all gathering at one location and one time and competing there, teams can make an attempt on their home turf and on their schedule (before a certain date).

There are three teams announced in this first group:

Keep an eye here for coverage, and check out this great X PRIZE recap video from last year:

LCROSS Performs First Swing-By of the Moon, With Video June 24, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : LCROSS, NASA, Youtube , add a comment

NASA’s LCROSS lunar satellite made its first swing-by of the Moon on Tuesday, complete with streaming video. The LCROSS will be swinging around both Earth and the Moon multiple times, as it eases into a trajectory from which it will create an impact with the Moon, analyzing the resulting plume for signs of water ice.

Below is a video from NASA Television of the flyby:

Google Lunar X PRIZE: Two New Team Euroluna Videos April 9, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Google Lunar X Prize, Youtube , add a comment

Team Euroluna of the Google Lunar X PRIZE has posted two new videos to their team blog. The first video talks about the current technical designs for their competing craft, while the second is a new installment in a series on building the craft:

The Google Lunar X PRIZE folks and all the competing teams have really started putting up tons of video and other content, so expect more coverage here going forward of all the goodies that come along :)

New English Narration on Japan's Spectacular HDTV Kaguya Footage February 8, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : Google Lunar X Prize, Japan, Youtube , 2comments

Japan’s space agency, JAXA, has posted on one of their Youtube channels two HD videos from their Kaguya lunar orbiter’s mission, with new English narration.

The videos are not embeddable, but can be found linked below:

The Kaguya lunar orbiter (also known as SELENE) took the footage in 2007, with these new narrations posted just last week.

These videos were a significant first drop in the pond for lunar HD video—a key element of the Google Lunar X PRIZE‘s $20 million payout is successful broadcast of HD video from the surface (a “mooncast”), and HD streams and other video could become both common and in-demand within 3-6 years. JAXA’s videos are an opening act for what should be an avalanche of astounding imagery over the next decade that’ll have each of us feeling that much closer to standing on the Moon, just as everyone from Armstrong and Aldrin to Schmitt and beyond has done :)

Youtube Video up of Lunar Electric Rover in Obama Inaugural Parade January 21, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : NASA, Obama, Youtube , 4comments

There’s the first Youtubed video of the Lunar Electric Rover (a.k.a. Small Pressurized Rover Concept) posing and crabwalking for Obama at the inaugural parade today, video by way of collectspace.

Not sure what to make of Michelle Obama’s expression there around 1:00, haha.

Google Lunar X PRIZE Video: Meet the Team–Omega Envoy December 9, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Google Lunar X Prize, Omega Envoy, Youtube , add a comment

Last week, the Google Lunar X PRIZE Youtube channel posted the first in a series of video features meeting the teams of the competition, with the same questions to be asked of each group in an entertaining format. The first team up is the newest, Omega Envoy:

The X PRIZE Foundation has done an excellent job with their media on the prize so far, and they’re getting better all the time; keep an eye on that channel and their blog.

Personally, between a teleport and a jetpack, if that teleporter’s safe, it’s teleporter all the way for me :)

One-Year Anniversary of the first Google Lunar X Prize Team Announcement (Odyssey Moon) December 6, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Google Lunar X Prize, Odyssey Moon, Youtube , add a comment

Today is the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the first Google Lunar X PRIZE team, Odyssey Moon (with the Google Lunar X PRIZE itself having been announced in August of last year).

It’s also the 25th anniversary of my birth (haha), possibly a large part of why I remember the date ;)

Check out the Google Lunar X PRIZE’s excellent and increasingly active Youtube channel here, as well as their excellent Launch Pad blog.

New Orion Craft Test: Abort Motor November 21, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Ares I, Ares V, Constellation, NASA, Orion (craft), Youtube , add a comment

You know a test went well when it shot flames 100 feet into the air.

Especially when there was video of it:

That is the second (the first being back in April) test of the Orion craft‘s abort motor; the Orion being the successor to the Space Shuttle, and the craft that will get NASA astronauts back to the Moon (with the Altair serving as the lander).

Despite the spectacularly dangerous-looking results, the abort motor is actually a safety feature: it would direct the Orion craft away from the Ares rockets in the event of a launch malfunction.

India's Chandrayaan Flags the Moon November 16, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Chandrayaan-1, Current News, Helium-3, Indian Space Research Organization, lander, Peak of Eternal Light, Shackleton, Youtube , 1 comment so far

I’ve been flagging “Chandrayaan” on a lot of my moon posts as of late, but now the Chandrayaan-1 has done me one better, flagging something itself: the Moon.

The craft’s Moon Impact Probe, carrying the Indian Tricolour (pictured above) on its side, landed on the Moon on Friday, making India the fifth (or fourth; videos seems to state fourth, but that linked article from the India Times states fifth) world entity (after the U.S., Russia, Japan, and the 17-nation ESA) to reach the surface of the Moon.

That is a picture the Moon Impact Probe took before impact (from the India Times); the prode landed just 32km from the all-important Shackleton Crater near the South Pole, a very likely location for a future full-fledged colony or colonies (due to its rim being a Peak of Eternal Light, a.k.a. eternal solar power and other benefits). So its likely that future colonists (robotic or otherwise) will come across, or at least take field trips to, this Indian tricolor in the future :)

Below is a great video from CCTV on the Probe’s landing, which rather interestingly, also confirms the active Indian interest in helium-3 (something not mentioned in the official ISRO Moon Impact Probe page):

Picture of the Week: Hail CESAR November 10, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : European Space Agency, Picture of the Week, rover, Youtube , add a comment

That is a picture of the CESAR rover, which won last week’s ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge. Built by a student team from the Bremen University, the rover completed the task of descending down the steep slopes of a 15-meter deep crater, grab a soil sample, and return it (all in darkness).

Check out the CESAR site for details from the team on their rover (and their experience), and below is a Youtube clip of the victorious little guy conquering a hill in practice:

The lunar surface is a challenging environment, and it’ll be a lot of fun to see the variety of designs for rovers that come along, and to see them in action there within the next few years :)