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X Prize contestThe X Prize Foundation and NASA have launched the $2.5 million Lunar Lander Challenge to build a better spacecraft and boost plans for a manned return trip to the moon.
There will actually be two competitions that will simulate takeoff and landing on the moon. In the easier one, vehicles will lift off to 150 feet above the ground and hover for 90 seconds before landing on an smooth surface 100 meters away. In the second competition, the vehicles are required to lift off 150 feet above the ground, hover for 180 seconds and land 100 meters away in an area that is similar to the rocky lunar surface.
Lunar Landing Research VehicleThe Lunar Lander Challenge is part of NASA's Centennial Challenges, a program designed to promote technology innovation supporting the U.S. space program.
For the original Apollo program, NASA researchers first built and tested the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (left), which was called the "flying bedstead," in 1964.
Here is the "Eagle," as photographed by Neil Armstrong as it rested on the moon in 1969. After overshooting its landing area, Eagle hovered over rocky lunar terrain until Armstrong found a safe place to land.