Texas rocket leaves Oklahoma soil, returns 

The Texas space firm, Armadillo Aerospace -- backed by a game software designer -- successfully launched, landed, and launched again a prototype lunar lander at the Oklahoma Spaceport in Burns Flat June 2.

The craft, dubbed "Pixel" by the Armadillo design team, took off from a launch pad, hovered for about 90 seconds, then landed at another short distance away. The vehicle then did it again after a short refueling.

"It was an absolutely perfect trajectory. We were hoping to accomplish exactly what the vehicle did," said one of the firm's designers.

The vehicle was powered by ethanol held in bulbous tanks surrounding the engine. Five cameras captured the vehicle's flight, including two on-board.

Pixel's flight was a test for an upcoming competition, the X-Prize Lunar Lander Challenge, the designer said.

The June 13 Oklahoma Gazette will have more information on Oklahoma's space programs. -Ben Fenwick

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