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NASA sets up $2 million contest for rocket design

The competition is aimed at spurring aerospace designers to build and demonstrate versatile rockets that may one day support a lunar mission.

india Updated: May 06, 2006 15:06 IST

NASA said it is sponsoring a $2 million contest to spur aerospace designers to build and demonstrate versatile rockets that may one day support a lunar mission.

The competition is part of the space agency's Centennial Challenges programme, which aims to foster innovation by offering prizes to teams that can solve a range of problems.

Competing teams have to build a rocket that can launch vertically, climb to a certain altitude and suspend in the air, land at a target 90 metres away and then return to its original launch pad, NASA said on Friday.

The competition has two levels of difficulties and several prizes will be awarded. The largest prize is $1.2 million.

NASA is working with the Santa Monica; California based X Prize Foundation to conduct the Lunar Lander Analog Challenge. NASA hopes the technology developed would be capable of carrying humans and cargo back and forth between the lunar surface and orbit.

The lunar contest will be held during the X Prize Cup in New Mexico in October, an annual event featuring rocket competitions and space related activities. It will be run by the X Prize Foundation at no cost to NASA.

Last year, NASA sponsored a Centennial Challenge that required contestants to build a tough but lightweight tether that could be used on a future space elevator.

First Published: May 06, 2006 14:19 IST