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Rocket City Space Pioneers to Use SolidWorks for Google Lunar X Prize Entry

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 17, 2010
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SolidWorks Press Release
Dec. 16, 2010

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. (DS SolidWorks), a world leader in 3D solutions, today announced that the Rocket City Space Pioneers (RCSP) will use SolidWorks® software to “boost” its entry in the Google Lunar X PRIZE. The X PRIZE competition challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods for robotic space exploration.

A Huntsville, Ala. team featuring leaders in the spaceflight and educational fields is currently developing a low-cost lunar lander/rover system to send to the moon by 2014, which will be able to travel 500 meters and transmit video images and data back to the Earth. Led by Dynetics, the team comprising Teledyne Brown Engineering, Andrews Space, Spaceflight Services, Draper Laboratory, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation (VCSI) plans to be the first privately funded team to get to the moon.

Using SolidWorks® CAD and SolidWorks Simulation software, RCSP will be able to quickly and easily validate its designs for the lunar lander system, which will be capable of making a soft landing on a planetary body and deploying the rover. SolidWorks will allow RCSP to test its designs to ensure that the lander and rover stay within the specified dimensions and weight, while minimizing costs. With SolidWorks Simulation, RCSP can subject its designs to the same airflow, stress, and thermal conditions the system will experience while in orbit. RCSP is also using SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software for configuration management to ensure complete control over all design information across its diverse team.

“Choosing SolidWorks software for the X PRIZE competition was a natural extension of the work we do every day. SolidWorks has been Dynetics’ primary CAD software for automotive, space vehicle, and propulsion design since 2001,” said Ricky Jordan, lead mechanical engineer, Space Vehicles Department at Dynetics.

“We are excited to be part of this important mission to return to the moon. RCSP’s experience in the various aspects of space travel, as well as in the commercial market, makes them uniquely qualified to succeed,” said Christine Washburn, vice president of marketing, DS SolidWorks. “Our design software solutions will provide RCSP with the necessary tools to test their ideas, share design information across seven partners, and ultimately deliver proven designs for their mission.”

RCSP was one of six teams competing for the X PRIZE to be awarded the Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data (ILDD) contract by NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The data from this contract will be used to develop future lander vehicles and exploration systems. RCSP recently delivered the System Definition Review (SDR) package to NASA, which contains the mission concept of operations, integrated vehicle design, engineering analysis, and technical data package on the subsystems. It provides the details of the RCSP’s system-level design as it relates to the overall mission. The system-level design ensures the readiness of the project to move to the implementation phase.

“ModernTech Mechanical is thrilled to have the opportunity to deepen our relationship with our Huntsville, Ala. area customers and the SolidWorks community at large through our support of SolidWorks design, simulation and data management tools,” says Jon Carlton, ModernTech Mechanical vice president.

More information about the X PRIZE is available at:

About The Rocket City Space Pioneers

The Rocket City Space Pioneers is 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. The team will compete for the Google Lunar X PRIZE with its lunar lander and rover.

About Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., a Dassault Systèmes S.A. subsidiary, is a world leader in 3D solutions that help millions of engineers and designers succeed through innovation. Our products deliver an intuitive experience in product design, simulation, publishing, data management, and environmental impact assessment. For the latest news, information, or an online demonstration, visit our Web site ( or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).