spaceshipone

It's nice to see that even chronic peddlers of government waste like NASA can still learn some new tricks. Perhaps it was the success of this year's DARPA Grand Challenge that's led them to team up with the X-Prize foundation (SpaceShipOne, dig) to fund two new private sector competitions — the Payload Challenge and Lunar Lander Challenge. The first winner must demonstrate a reusable, sub-orbital rocket capable of reaching altitude or speeds "of use to scientists," while the second would demostrate a vehicle that can land and take off (vertically) from the moon's surface for lunar exploration (yes!). Subject to budget approval, NASA is ready to hand over $250,000 to the winner of each competition. John Galt would be proud.

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NASA to fund two new X-Prize Cups