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Rocket City Space Pioneers Enter $30 Million Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition

Rocket City Space Pioneers Enter $30 Million Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition

Huntsville, AL (September 07, 2010) — Today, the Rocket City Space Pioneers - a group of Huntsville businesses, educational institutions and non-profit organizations - announced their official entry into the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million competition that challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the Moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. Headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, Team Rocket City Space Pioneers is comprised of seven organizations and is among twenty-three teams from a dozen countries that are registered in the competition.

The Rocket City Space Pioneers, led by Huntsville-based company Dynetics and comprised of Huntsville partners Teledyne Brown Engineering, Andrews Space, Spaceflight Services, Draper Laboratory, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation, will compete for the Google Lunar XPRIZE with their lunar lander. Leading the team is Tim Pickens, Dynetics’ chief propulsion engineer. No stranger to space competition, Pickens was also the lead propulsion engineer for the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE winning SpaceShipOne team.

“We have hand-selected a Huntsville-centric, winning team for the Google Lunar XPRIZE that has the excitement, experience and capability to produce a successful technical solution and, more importantly, a business case to make this endeavor a viable solution,” Pickens said. “Having participated on a winning XPRIZE team, I appreciate the gravity and benefits of such a technically challenging endeavor. The Ansari XPRIZE jump-started commercial space and an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the country and created opportunities for further innovation and commercialization.”

The Rocket City Space Pioneers are developing a low-cost lunar lander/rover system for conducting commercial and scientific missions on the Moon and potentially other planetary bodies. The lander/rover system is capable of making a soft landing on a planetary body and deploying a rover measuring approximately 30x30x15 centimeters and weighing less than 10 kilograms.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said, “We’re fortunate to have some of the best and brightest minds in the country here in the Rocket City. With this community’s technical aptitude and strong impact on space exploration, it is imperative that we take advantage of opportunities such as the Google Lunar XPRIZE. I have confidence this team will make our city proud.”

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby said, “Huntsville has a proud history as the rocket capital of the world and remains on the cutting edge of new space technology.  I am confident this contingent will represent Huntsville’s tradition and prominence in space exploration well, and I wish the team the best of luck in the competition.”

Dr. Marc Bendickson, Dynetics CEO, said, “We are excited to bring together such a qualified team. Dynetics’ experience and capabilities plus our partners’ outstanding past performance histories equals an unbeatable combination for producing an outstanding product.”

“We are extremely excited to welcome the Rocket City Space Pioneers in to the Google Lunar XPRIZE,” said William Pomerantz, Senior Director for Space Prizes at the XPRIZE Foundation. “This team can draw on decades of impressive aerospace achievements, and their team leader is a proven winner. They are entering the competition with a great deal of momentum.”

For more information about the Rocket City Space Pioneers, go to


Dynetics Inc., with headquarters in Huntsville, Ala., and offices throughout the United States, has delivered high-quality, high-value engineering, scientific and information technology solutions to customers within the U.S. government and a range of other market segments since 1974. The company’s mission is to deliver superior quality, high-technology products and services ethically, responsively and cost effectively to meet customer needs in the areas of intelligence, missiles, aviation, cyber and space. Visit for more details.


Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated. The company is an industry leader in engineered systems, providing full spectrum systems engineering, integration, manufacturing and lifecycle sustainment solutions to the Department of Defense, NASA, Missile Defense Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, commercial nuclear plants and large prime contractors. Teledyne Brown’s one-stop engineering and fabrication capabilities include expertise in systems engineering, system integration, technology development, hardware design, prototype development, system test and evaluation, advanced manufacturing, logistics services, operations and maintenance. More information about Teledyne Brown Engineering may be found at


Andrews Space, Inc. was founded in 1999 to be a catalyst in the commercialization and development of space. The company is an affordable integrator of aerospace systems and developer of advanced space technologies. To learn more, please visit:


Spaceflight Services was established in 2009 by Jason Andrews, President and CEO of Andrews Space, to revolutionize secondary payload flight services for fixed and deployable cargo and transport. More information about Spaceflight Services and specific flight opportunities can be found on the company’s website:


Draper ( is a not-for-profit applied research and development laboratory that has been involved with nationally critical space systems development for 50 years. Draper’s space systems heritage began with designing the guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) system for Apollo and continues with critical NASA programs including the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS) and the Constellation program. Draper is part of the team that recently received the Collier Trophy, the highest U.S. aerospace honor, for its contributions to the ISS program, and continues to work with NASA and commercial customers on new launchers, spacecraft and exploration vehicles.


The University of Alabama in Huntsville has a long history of developing space flight hardware projects. The University has flown over 18 space shuttle flight payloads as well as three payloads for the International Space Station, and consistently ranks among the top universities in the nation for NASA-sponsored research. For more information, please visit


The Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation (VCSI) is a not for profit research for development (R for D) organization that promotes collaborative research in support of key federal requirements. VCSI integrates government, industry and university researchers to provide science applications and engineering solutions. In addition to its focus on R for D, VCSI is highly committed to hands on learning. VCSI is controlled by a board of directors consisting of key industry and university leaders. VCSI also has key member participants. In the last two years, VCSI has been involved with the development of a microsat for the Space Test Program, hurricane forecasting instrument for NOAA, IED detecting robots for the Army and lunar lander test beds for NASA. For more information, please visit


The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters (1/3 of a mile) and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth. The first team to do so will claim a $20 million Grand Prize, while the second team will earn a $5 million Prize. Teams are also eligible to win a $1 million award for stimulating diversity in the field of space exploration and as much as $4 million in bonus prizes for accomplishing additional technical tasks such as moving ten times as far, surviving the frigid lunar night, or visiting the site of a previous lunar mission. To date, more than 20 teams from a dozen countries around the world have registered to compete for the prize. The Google Lunar XPRIZE is available to be claimed until the end of the year 2015.


Founded in 1995, the XPRIZE Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The XPRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration (Ocean and Deep Space). Prizes won include the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private, suborbital space flight; the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe); and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE for advanced rocket development. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics XPRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE. For more information, visit

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