Tuesday, October 30, 2007

X PRIZE Cup Results - Lunar Lander Challenge and Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award

Well, after being away for a few days, I'm back at the computer, catching up on what happened at the X PRIZE Cup.

For the Lunar Lander Challenge, unfortunately, Armadillo wasn't able to win any prize money this year. On the bright side, that just gives all of the teams more shots next year. From the point of view of prize sponsors (in this case NASA), it gives even more benefit as more teams work on the problem over the next year, and the sponsor gets to observe the competitors try different approaches.

In fact, so many teams are already trying that I wonder if a 3rd, easier (with correspondingly smaller cash rewards) category of Lunar Lander Challenge prize might make sense? Such an easier prize could involve a shorter flight, no translation, or even tethered operations. Maybe a winner of the more difficult levels wouldn't be eligible to also win the easier level. This might get more competitors in the real competitions to make an even better spectator event.

I'm so far behind in covering the X PRIZE Cup events that I'm not even going to try to catch up. You can find the information you want, in many cases from people who were there, from the sites I recently mentioned at the beginning of this post. Another site that covered the events in detail is Cosmic Log. You can also see a photo gallery including vehicle pictures from several of the Lunar Lander Challenge competitors at CNet News.

Another Space Prize competition that was held at the X PRIZE Cup was the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award. You can learn about the innovative space business ideas that won the competition awards in this press release from the X PRIZE Foundation. You can also read an interview with one of the finalists in Smart Girls Rock. I didn't realize this prize is also sponsored by NASA, and specifically the Innovative Partnerships Program that includes Centennial Challenges. You can see the prize mentioned on the IPP events page:

Our newest competition, the "Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award" combines our unique Wirefly X PRIZE Cup event, the excitement of manned space exploration, and the unbounded ideas of youth to produce an educational experience like none before it. The award creates a new level of excitement and dynamic participation in all fields of science and technology. It also provides an unparalleled opportunity to connect the most innovative students directly with the cutting edge of space exploration.