Saturday, April 28, 2007

Astronaut Glove Challenge in a few days

Spaceref has the first reminder I've seen that the Centennial Challenges Astronaut Glove Challenge will be held on May 2-3, which is next Wednesday and Thursday. (Update: The Spaceports blog has the 2nd such reminder, and RLV News also has information about the competition). The total prize purse for this year's glove challenge is $250,000. The update has some additional information I hadn't run across before, so I'll give these details. In addition to noting that the Challenge will be held at Windsor Locks, Connecticut, at the New England Air Museum located by the Bradley International Airport, it gives the times of the event. The first day the challenge runs from 3:00 to 6:00, and the second day is a full-day event from 8:00 to 6:00. As noted earlier, there are 2 Challenges, $200,000 for the best overall astronaut glove improvements, and $50,000 for the best Mechanical Counter Pressure gloves. Here is the original NASA press release.

Here are some more links that should be of interest if you're following the astronaut glove competition.

Here's an older, slightly out of date, but still good introduction to the glove prize at Cosmic Log.

Rand Simberg's original suggestion to have an Astronaut Glove Centennial Challenge is an interesting read. It shows some of the reasons this Challenge is so important. The article is even more striking given more recent developments in NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. Rand wishes the contestants good luck.

Update: New Scientist posted an article on April 30 on the Glove Challenge. It has some information I haven't seen from other sources. There are no contestants for the mechanical counterpressure challenge this time around. (Typically with these challenges you have to pay a reasonably significant registration fee, so even if you're working on the problem you're not likely to enter unless you think you have a good chance to win.) There are 6 teams competing for the bladder restraint challenge, which has a $200,000 prize.

Here's my post on Ken Davidian's Centennial Challenges talk at Space Access '07 that gives some context on where the glove challenge fits into the overall program, and how the total $1 million for the challenge is spread out over the next few years. Ken manages NASA's Centennial Challenges.

Here are the Centennial Challenges links for the glove challenge.

Volanz Aerospace is running the challenge. Their site has more information about the competition. A lot of the information is here. Some of it is a bit out of date (part of it says the challenge is in April, but the current dates are displayed prominently). I'd also like to see more information about the competing teams and the sponsors. A Centennial Challenges update from October 2006 noted that as of that time there were 2 teams registered for the challenge.

Update: The folks at Spaceflight America kindly sent me an "Announcement of Dates" document that gives some more information on the contest. This goes into more details than I knew before about the corporate sponsors. Since I can't find some of this information on the web, I'll post it instead of linking to it. The 2 main sponsors, which have provided "major financial and technical support" to the glove challenge, are Hamilton Sundstrand and ILC Dover, 2 companies with expertise in the space suit glove area. “We would not have been able to hold this type of technical challenge without the incredible support of Hamilton Sundstrand and ILC Dover”, said Dr. Alan Hayes, Chairman and CEO of Volanz Aerospace Inc. Their expertise and on-going commitment to our efforts have been instrumental in our ability to hold this competition”, said Sigmund Gorski, President and CIO of Volanz Aerospace. In addition, 2 other corporate sponsors are recognized for their support: OST Global and EDS.

In addition, the document gives some information about the judges for the contest: "The three judges are Mr. Sigmund Gorski, President/CIO of Volanz Aerospace Inc., Mr. Carlos Rivera, Director of Airspace Services, Dimensions International, and Mr. Vijay Narula, President of Optimal Solutions and Technologies Inc. Dr. Alan Hayes, Chairman/CEO of Volanz Aerospace Inc. will act as the appeals judge."

I also don't see anything on the NEAM events page for the challenge.

A blog keeps track of the glove challenge.

Here's a slightly out of date presentation that gives the status as of that date (in 2006) of Centennial Challenges, including the Astronaut Glove Challenge (which is described on page 13).

Best of luck to the competitors next week, and thanks to Spaceflight America/Volanz Aerospace, NASA Centennial Challenges, and the corporate sponsors for organizing the challenge!