Saturday, June 02, 2007

June 2007 Centennial Challenges Listserv Message

Yesterday I got the following message from NASA Centennial Challenge's Ken Davidian to the CC Listserv. I have this listserv directed to my school email account, and since I'm not at school this summer, I didn't see it right away. However, RLV News did, so if you want to post any comments about it, check it out over there. Update: Ken has posted a comment at the RLV News post that may be of interest to you if you have any well thought out prize ideas or if you have any Centennial Challenges questions you'd like to see answered in the next listserv message.

The message has a lot of similar material to Ken's recent ISDC interview, so if you like listening instead of reading, go there. For everyone else, here's the full message:

June 2007 Message to the Centennial Challenges Listserv Community

Hello Everybody!

Below is a quick note of what's been going on in the world of Centennial Challenges this past month. Ever since I did the radio interview withDr. David Livingston of The Space Show on Feb 11, 2007, I've been directing people to his web page (the interview URL is I've been encouraging people to listen to that because it gives all the background information you could want on the program. Lastly, and just in case you don't have the 90-minutes required to listen to my entire interview, you can always check out the Centennial Challenges website,, for more information.

Ken Davidian
Program Manager, Centennial Challenges

P.S. I'll try to do better at getting messages out to this list...Thanks for your patience!


May 2007 was quite a month for Centennial Challenges and there are no signs of things slowing down! Here's a quick overview of what's been going on:

1. The 2007 Astronaut Glove Challenge was held on May 2-3 at the NewEngland Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. Volanz Aerospace was the Allied Organization administering and executing the event, with special sponsorship assistance from Hamilton-Sundstrand and ILC Dover. Three teams participated in the competition and one of them, led by PeterHomer, took home the $200,000 purse for the bladder-restraint portion of the competition! (A $50,000 purse was offered for a Mechanical Counter Pressure glove category, but nobody showed up with that type of glove.) The final report of the competition has been written and i tshould show up on the competition web page ( soon. Details for the 2008 Astronaut Glove Challenge will be made available as the revised rules and competition time and place are finalized in the coming months. Check the competition web page,, from periodically for the latest information.

2. The 2007 Regolith Excavation Challenge was held on May 11-12 at the Santa Maria Fairpark Convention Center in Santa Maria, CA. The California Space Education and Workforce Institute (CSEWI, a sister organization to the California Space Authority, CSA) was the Allied Organization administering and executing the event, with special sponsorship assistance from Diaini Building Corporation and Empirical Systems Aerospace. Four teams participated in the competition but none were able to excavate the required amount of JSC-1a to win any of the purses. By searching for the words "regolith excavation"you should be able to find compilation videos from a couple of different sources, including the 640x480 videos taken with my little Nikon digital camera. Despite the fact that no money was won, this competition score a number of "firsts" in the regolith excavation community which are still proving that value is achieved even if nobody wins, including the first large-scale "sandbox" of JSC-1a *ever*, and also the first time full-scale equipment was used to excavate JSC-1a (which took place*after* the event was over and Diani had to get the simulant out of the box and back into the bags by using a bobcat "Earth"-mover!). As withthe Astronaut Challenge, details for the 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge will be made available as the revised rules and competition time and place are finalized in the coming months. Check the competition web page,, from periodicallyfor the latest information.

3. I've been giving presentations about these competitions and about CC in general, both inside and outside NASA. The Monday following the two competitions, I presented the results to the management of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, including Associate Administrator Scott Horowitz. It's amazing to see how much excitement these events generate within NASA and it's a great tribute to the high quality of work being done by all the teams that participate in the competitions. I'm just the messenger between the great accomplishments and the decision-makers, and I would be lying if I said this wasn't the greatest satisfaction of the job! NASA management loves what is being accomplished with this program!

4. I presented the results of the two competitions at the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference in Dallas, Texas onMay 27. This was basically a compilation of the presentations I gave to the ESMD management and it was the first public forum to which I presented this information.

That's pretty much what's been going on with Centennial Challenges in May 2007. In addition, I had a new set of cards printed up to reflect the reallocation of purse money amongst the seven competitions that are currently active. I hope to get a new (not update, not different, just new) set of History cards printed soon and then I'll have them all collated and shrink-wrapped so I don't have to collate and rubber-band all the cards myself!


When I speak with people who follow CC, the question of prize budget always comes up. Here's the scoop on this subject: the President's budget requests $4M per year starting with 2008, the current budget under consideration. As funding is appropriated to CC, new competitions will be initiated. What those competitions will be and how they will be administered (presumably, using the same Allied Organization model as all the rest) will be decided at that time. We've been collecting ideas from multiple sources, and we are continuing to collect new ideas for future prize competitions. As always, if you have a prize idea, please don't hesitate to send it to us (me) at


The following are the competitions that are planned for the rest of the calendar year:

Aug 4-12: Personal Air Vehicle Challenge, run by the CAFE Foundation. Go to for more details.

Sept-Oct: Beam Power and Tether Challenges, run by the Spaceward Foundation. Exact date and place are TBD. Go to or for more details.

Oct 26-28: Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, run by the X PRIZE Foundation, at the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, NM. Go to for more details.