Tuesday, September 30, 2008
NG-LLC update... - RLV News - In addition to the LLC location and schedule information, Unreasonable Rocket notes the following: Now that the vehicle is flying my son is in the process of taking all the spare parts and building a duplicate. As the Armadilo guys told me don’t get too attached to your vehicle ... we did not build a mueum peice, we built a flight vehicle and when it is eventually lost thats part of the game.
Academic news in brief - Rocketry Association holds training class - Huntsville Times on TARC
Coincidence - Communion Blog - Of the Heinlein Centennial, XCOR, TGV Rockets, Falcon 1, and the Google Lunar X PRIZE. (Sorry for the odd style; I'm reading a Fritz Leiber fantasy book).
Anderson Airport to Host Rocket Test - CityOfAnderson.com - The Anderson Municipal Airport will be the site of a live, static rocket engine test on Saturday, October 11, as the University of Dayton Advanced Rocket Team (UDART) completes static testing of its kerosene-liquid oxygen systems. ... Testing will be fueled by a new fuel mix, a partial bio-fuel, which will also be tested for consistency. The engine for the UDART rocket is a donated Vernier engine from an Atlas rocket. ... the two are team members of Team LunaTrex, now competing for the Google Lunar X Prize ...
International Workshop-Lunar Surface Wireless Comm - Oct 13 - posted on the GLXP Forums - Since the posted link is a bit messed up, I'll note that it's referencing this (PDF): The goal of the workshop is to initiate an exploratory dialog among the various stake-holders of the CCSDS member agencies, in the space mission community, interested commercial communications companies, and CCSDS technical standardization working groups. Topics include the advantages, disadvantages and potential application of COTS-derived wireless standards in support of planetary surface communications.
ARCA update - RLV News
TrueZer0 flight video - RLV News
Monday, September 29, 2008
The X PRIZE Lab @ MIT has been invited to participate in the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. During the week of November 17 - 23, 2008, organizations will conduct a range of activities - from simple speeches to comprehensive competitions - designed to inspire, connect, inform, mentor and engage the next generation of entrepreneurs. The Lab will be spearheading this effort on the MIT campus.
CNBC 5 Part Series on Collaboration
As part of our partnership with BT, CNBC will be airing a 5-part series on collaboration, which will feature the X PRIZE Foundation in several of the episodes. The show, hosted by Donny Deutsch of The Big Idea, is scheduled to air on October 12. A new episode will air the following four Sundays. Check your local listings for show times.
Board Member Update
Dr. Ray Kurzweil will be a headlining speaker at the 2008 Singularity Summit on October 25 in San Jose, CA. The Summit attracts a unique audience to the Bay Area, with visionaries from business, science, technology, philanthropy, the arts, and more. Participants learn where humanity is headed, meet the people leading the way, and leave inspired to create a better future.
For those who are looking for a low-cost way to get beyond low Earth orbit, SpaceX will be rolling out the Falcon 1e, a special version of the Falcon 1 they are building with the $20-million Google Lunar X Prize in mind. The $7.9 million Falcon 1 can launch 420 kg to low Earth orbit which is not enough to get a spacecraft to the moon. The Falcon 1e, however, will be able to lift 1010 kg and will still only cost $9.1 million (a Falcon 9 lunar launch would cost $46.75 million — more than the prize itself). SpaceX expects to roll out the Falcon 1e by 2010, well before the prize expires on December 31, 2012.
In the near future there will be age-specific lesson plans for TEMPO^3, as well as a multiple-school, multiple-age contest and a send-your-name-into-space project.
You can follow the progress on the TEMPO^3 blog. There are also a lot more resources on the project on the Mars Society site.
This prompts me to check the SpaceWard site. You can find 2 documents here with the Helicopter Lift Plan for the Beam Power Competition (a document I haven't run across before) and the latest on the Beam Power rules (which I think I saw an earlier version of). There's also a Tether rule book that hasn't changed.
Noone has signed up yet for the 2008 Tether competition in spite of the bigger cash prize, so I wonder if they'll need to relax the difficulty level later. It's gotten steadily harder over the years, but there were competitors in past years, so perhaps some threshold has been crossed this time. Difficulty levels are sometimes tough to judge with these competitions.
HMS Beagle Science Blog also has the KC Space Pirates post. You might think that the H.M.S. Beagle would be suspicious of encountering Pirates on the high seas, but here's an earlier post where they seem to be friends: I encountered one of the Beagle's customers this morning at the Conoco in Parkville. He said that the KC Space Pirates have completed their trip to Detroit where they tried out their new LASERs and other equipment in an effort to get a working space elevator. The Beagle blog has a KC Space Pirates tag that may be helpful in catching any future Space Pirate encounters covered on that blog. Here's the science store, which like the blog features space activities like rocketry and star parties in addition to other science content.
The McGill Space Elevator Team has had a number of posts the last 3 weeks:
Angling the array
Successful tests = Climber tests coming soon
Taking a look a the smarts
Mechanical updates form the summer - This one features some graphics of the climber.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Falcon I in orbit!!
Falcon I launch thoughts...
Falcon 1 flight roundup
If SpaceX can follow this success with a consistent, low cost line of future successes, we've seen a profound advance in space.
Even if the low cost Falcon 1 was the main goal of the effort, making a reliable institution of that alone would be a big victory. It would put commercial space in orbit, and lend future orbital commercial space efforts that happen to have the right ingredients a new level of credibility. It would be one more enabler for new smallsat business, which I see as a really big deal, as I consider smallsats to have the same type and magnitude of entrepreneurial and innovative potential as the suborbital and orbital space access efforts. It would also raise the bar for small launchers worldwide. Finally, it gives one realistic avenue for Google Lunar X PRIZE teams to reach the Moon for the prize and for post-prize commercial and government support efforts.
However, Falcon 1 is just one part of the SpaceX plan. A successful Falcon 1 line is a big step towards a successful Falcon 9 line, with all that means in that class of launcher in the commercial and government realms. In addition to lower-cost satellite launch, with all that means in terms of creating a "virtuous circle" of shorter development times, less need to squeeze the last bit of performance out of every kilogram of satellite hardware, and lower satellite costs, it's also a big step towards solving NASA's post-Shuttle ISS cargo supply problems. Not only that, but it makes a NASA COTS D ISS crew transportation effort more attractive. This is one more step towards directing Ares 1 away from LEO and towards the Moon and beyond. If one success follows another, it may allow NASA to consider COTS-like efforts in other areas in the future. It's also a step that has to be noticed by Bigelow Aerospace, considering their transportation needs. Such successes, if they come, are bound to be observed by other launch providers and launch customers, which hopefully will encourage a bigger launch market and lower launch costs worldwide.
In itself one Falcon 1 flight doesn't achieve all of this by any means. Let's not get carried away. The rest of it may not happen, or maybe some of it will, and some won't. If it does happen, it's almost a given that it will seem to happen too slowly. However, the door is now wide open for these future advances.
SEC. 703. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON EARTHKAM AND ROBOTICS COMPETITIONS.
It is the sense of Congress that NASA's educational programs are important sources of inspiration and hands-on learning for the next generation of engineers and scientists and should be supported. In that regard, programs such as EarthKAM, which brings NASA directly into American classrooms by enabling students to talk directly with astronauts aboard the International Space Station and to take photographs of Earth from space, and NASA involvement in robotics competitions for students of all levels, are particularly worthy undertakings and NASA should support them and look for additional opportunities to engage students through NASA's space and aeronautics activities.
SEC. 1105. INNOVATION PRIZES.
(a) In General- Prizes can play a useful role in encouraging innovation in the development of technologies and products that can assist NASA in its aeronautics and space activities, and the use of such prizes by NASA should be encouraged.
(b) Amendments- Section 314 of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 is amended--
(1) by amending subsection (b) to read as follows:
`(b) Topics- In selecting topics for prize competitions, the Administrator shall consult widely both within and outside the Federal Government, and may empanel advisory committees. The Administrator shall give consideration to prize goals such as the demonstration of the ability to provide energy to the lunar surface from space-based solar power systems, demonstration of innovative near-Earth object survey and deflection strategies, and innovative approaches to improving the safety and efficiency of aviation systems.'; and
(2) in subsection (i)(4) by striking `$10,000,000' and inserting `$50,000,000'.
More Unreasonable progress - Unreasonable Rockets gets a number of tests in. Look for the following: Some of the Masten folks came out to watch and Ben got some really cool slow motion footage of the flights. (Look for him to post it soon) I’ll review data and post a video or two on Sunday.
It's now Sunday, and yes, there's a new hover video up at Unreasonable Rocket: Video from the ground.
Briefs: TrueZero update; Space taxis - TrueZero shows their tether setup.
Briefs: Unreasonable plans; NewSpace notes
I wouldn't actually try to eliminate cost plus contracts altogether, as they make sense in many cases, as do traditional research grants.
However, other mechanisms, like public/private partnerships, fixed price contracts, buying commercial services outright in the grocery store/ticket purchase sense, COTS-like incentives, and, yes, innovation prizes, are used far less often than they should be in the government aerospace procurement world.
Update: The discussion continues.
Crazy Green Idea Contest BT Today (link from X PRIZE Foundation news scroller)
Automotive X Prize News: Sept 21st, 2008 - X PRIZE Cars Blog
Miastrada - X PRIZE Cars Blog (close-up on one of the competitors)
Gale Banks Engineering pushes to make vehicles more powerful, fuel efficient - LA Times (link from X PRIZE Foundation)
Friday, September 26, 2008
KML Contest - Google is conducting a KML in Research contest to "spur innovation and creativity in science and engineering". I think this is a great idea. This is part of an educational outreach for science and engineering that also includes a Google Earth Conference to be held in Michigan on October 22nd and 23rd.
Here's an excerpt from the KML in Research Competition site:
Google is constantly looking for new ways to spur innovation and creativity in science and engineering. We are looking for the best examples of showing your work in Google Earth using KML. And we'll reward the brightest scientists, researchers, and students from all over the world. In addition to prizes, winning entries will be showcased on the Google Earth website and at our booth at the 2008 American Geophysical Union convention.
By the way, that link in the excerpt from Google actually goes to the main AGU site. I suspect that they're talking about the big AGU Fall meeting, which is full of interesting topics in space and Earth science fields.
Anyway, back to the contest. From the rules:
Prizes: The top five (5) entries in each category will receive a prize package that includes: an iPod Touch, a Garmin handheld GPS, and one Google messenger bag. Approximate retail value of each Grand Prize package is US $700. Up to ten (10) prizes will be awarded. Total prize value is US $7000. ... The names of the prize winners will be available at http://earth.google.com/kml_contest.html on or about December 15, 2008 for a period up to 30 days.
Got an idea that could change the world, or at least help a lot of people? Google wants to hear from you -- and it will pay as much as $10 million to make your idea a reality.
To help celebrate its 10th birthday, the ambitious Internet giant is launching an initiative to solicit, and bankroll, fresh ideas that it believes could have broad and beneficial impact on people's lives.
Called Project 10^100 (pronounced "10 to the 100th"), Google's initiative will seek input from the public and a panel of judges in choosing up to five winning ideas, to be announced in February.
Google announced the project live on CNN on Wednesday morning. ...
People are encouraged to submit their ideas, in any of 25 languages, at www.project10tothe100.com through October 20. ...
A Google spokeswoman was reluctant to set parameters for the submissions, although the project's Web site suggests that successful ideas should address such issues as providing food and shelter, building communities, improving health, granting more access to education, sustaining the global ecosystem and promoting clean energy.
To be clear, the $10M is for implementing the winning ideas, not for the people that submit the ideas (unless, I suppose, they're the ones that would implement them).
Will contests ever get old? Not if Google’s in charge - Venture Beat: It’s interesting that Google has chosen yet another contest to plow its philanthropy efforts into. Google, you may recall, was also the sponsor of the Lunar X Prize, and also ran Android Developers Challenge for its mobile platform, children’s drawing competition Doodle 4 Google, the Google Programming Contest and Desktop Gadget Contest, and others.
10:30 am - 11:30 am: Business Plan Presentations and Investor O & A: XCOR Aerospace, iShoe, Celestis Inc - As I recall, at one point XCOR offered a Steam Engine Prize for a rocket engine component (which was won). iShoe won the Lunar Ventures prize for space business/technology applications with Earth angles. Celestis is working with Google Lunar X PRIZE competitor Odyssey Moon.
11:30 am - 12:30 pm: Business Plan Presentations and Investor O & A: One of the presentations is by Google Lunar X PRIZE competitor Astrobotic, Inc.
Since Wayne left, the two fall interns, Derek Jensen and Aditya Madhavan (aka “Deech”) have been making the last few repairs to the sensor and engine wiring so we can start doing hot fire testing in the next few days.
It looks like Deech has started a blog of his own, RocketDeech. I'll pick out some excerpts from several posts:
So I decided to start a blog. Since I am going to Masten Space Systems to intern for the fall, I thought that this would be a good way for me to keep in touch with people. ... Well I made it to California ... Today we pulled the rocket motors off of XA 0.1B to do some tests on the transducers and fix a solenoid issue. ... As far as the internship goes, things are going well. I've done a lot of electrical wiring and testing on XA-0.1B so far. ... Mojave is a very small town, only about 3836 people or so. As such, there is little to do here, which vexes me. We (me and Derek, the other fall intern) have found some things to do, such as going to Tehachapi or Lancaster and eating there or seeing a movie. However, there is very little to do in Mojave itself. The airport is about the same size as the town itself, if not slightly larger. ... All right, well I guess that's enough for now, before I end up like Jon here at MSS and start writing 5000+ word posts.
There are companies like Virgin Galactic now trying to open up commercial space travel right now; did you ever think to yourself, maybe I'll just wait until these are viable and save myself $30 million?
I've been in this a lot longer than there's been a Virgin Galactic. Those of us who founded Space Adventures are, generally speaking, the same people who founded the X-Prize. And the X-Prize is what created the opportunity for Burt Rutan to go build SpaceShipOne, and Virgin Galactic came in and paid to have “Virgin Galactic” painted its tail. They're a latecomer to the party, but an extremely valuable participant; they'll probably fly the first commercial suborbital flights.
A lesser known detail is that many years went by before we were actually able to fund the $10 million prize for the X-Prize. When we envisioned Space Adventures and the X-Prize, we thought basically the X-Prize would get the ships built, and then Space Adventures would fly them. But without the prize being funded, and therefore no ships being built, we said look, even though NASA won't take private citizens, maybe we'll be able to convince the Russians. So we went and we talked to the Russians and they said Yeah, well, we might consider it, but even just to figure out if it were possible and how much it would cost, would cost a lot of money. And I actually personally paid for the study to determine if and how private citizens could fly, with the full intention of actually being the first private citizen to fly. However, that's also when the Internet stock bubble burst, and unfortunately for me that meant my ability to pay for that first space flight disappeared, and so we sold my seat to Dennis Tito.
Reston, Va.: Is NASA going to make more of an effort to get independent inventors and amateur scientists involved in the space program? Programs such as the NASA Radio JOVE program of radio astronomy for the schools can be applied to get outside participation, ideas, and inventions. The National Association of Rocketry (model rocketry) and the American Radio Relay League (amateur radio) can organize and integrate individual inventors' contributions to NASA.
Wayne Hale: NASA has already established several programs to get inventors and amateur scientists involved. Some of our best ideas have come from outside the normal ranks of aerospace workers. I expect we will continue to do so. Look at the Centennial challenges, they are a great way to get involved.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
At the recent NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge, one of the other teams used a LASER rangefinder on their robot to map the sandbox and obstacles. ... I thought that there might be a cheap way to make some sort of crude rangefinder using some Sharp IR distance sensors and a hobby servo… If anyone cares, I will post more details about the project. I might end up making some PC boards, and I could potentially sell bare boards and/or kits if there is enough interest…
Here's a collection of photos from the 2008 winner.
Seems like it is feasible now for advanced rocketry programs at colleges to consider building reusable vehicles like those in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Many of the teams such as Armadillo and Unreasonable Rocket have been quite open about technical details of their systems and would probably be willing to provide further info to help a project get off the ground. Maybe Northrop Grumman could be talked into sponsoring a college lunar lander challenge competition.
North Dakota Student Rocket Initiative Project - ND Stripe - They had a flight with onboard video on June 1. Well, it's not a Lunar Lander style rocket, but it has some of the other attributes. I imagine they'd be interested in the kind of competition described, and so would a lot of other student groups. As with ND STRIPE's payload competition, it would also be good to see some kind of student competition for payloads to put on the LLC type of rockets.
Briefs: Unreasonable thanks; Other NG-LLC teams; - RLV News
Delay...Delay...Delay - Team Phoenicia
True Zer0 - "The finest website in the world" - They have an update today on a meeting with the FAA. As for testing: The next flight test should be this weekend (Friday at the earliest). We're renting a 40+ft telescopic forklift that should give us the height needed to perform the next set of tests.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Oct. 3, 2008: Kids’ Day
Area schools have been invited to bring classes for a day of learning about the WPP objectives and the science and technology behind them. In addition, the students will tour the competition site and exhibits from competitors, major DoD laboratories, and the military service branches.
Oct. 4, 2008: Prize Day
0700: Opening Ceremony featuring the U.S. Marine Corps Band
0800 – 1500: Technology Showcase opens
0900 – 1300: WPP Field Test / Power Wear-Off
1500: Prize ceremony
1500: Technology Showcase closes
Meanwhile, Singapore's TechX Challenge final event was September 21 (yesterday). I didn't see information about the winners yet.
The British MOD's Grand Challenge winners were announced on August 19. The winner was Team Stellar (not the GLXP team) and their SATURN.
More Unreasonable tethered test flights - RLV News
India announces New Moon Mission - Googlokhod (not yet registered GLXP Team) - After all those years of a roverless Moon, there is now government competition for the private GLXP Teams ...
SAGAS OF SCIENCE AND SOCIETY - Cosmic Log - The topic is this year's crop of award-winning science sagas, as selected by the National Association of Science Writers. ... The winners, who were chosen by a panel of their peers, will be honored on Oct. 26 during the association's annual meeting in Palo Alto, Calif. This year's awards carry a cash prize of $2,500.
The power of wireless - neXt PRIZE (X PRIZE Foundation future prizes) - They explain: One of the many areas that the Global Development team is looking to build a Global Development X PRIZE in is the wireless space. ...
Update (September 22 2008 evening):
The GLXP Teams page has a lot of interesting posts today. I'm not generally covering it here because of volume and time considerations (since you can just go there!), but today I'll make an exception.
Team Retreat - LunaTrex
Astrobotic has several commented pictures; in my haste I won't link each one (see the GLXP Teams page). However, I will pass this along: 20 yrs of undergraduate research - Students work on Lunar X prize project - The Tartan, Carnegie Mellon University's student newspaper
Google Lunar X PRIZE at IAC (International Astronautical Congress) - Becky Ramsey at the XPF's Launch Pad - She mentions recruiting for new GLXP teams, but it could also be a good way to get professionals interested in signing up with existing teams.
Space 2.0 in-depth part IV - Space 2.0 Blog, Official Blog of the 8th Continent Project - This post features a runner-up in the Lunar Ventures competition, and their business with concurrent space and Earth applications:
ViraTag, comprised of Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University students, is able to solve an important health care demand with their space-derived technology. The company has developed in-vitro diagnostic virus detection kits for quick, efficient, cost-effective, and extremely accurate identification of viruses. ViraTag’s applications derived from the need to monitor the health of astronauts in space.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
More about the NG-LLC delay - RLV News
While we're on the topic of the LLC:
TrueZer0 update - RLV News
Testing again... - Unreasonable Rocket
I wonder if the secret LLC teams are still in the competition, and if so, who they are. As you can see from the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge site:
At the end, 9 teams have registered for the competition, 5 veteran teams from last year whom you already know, and 4 brand new teams who think they have what it takes! 3 of those teams have elected to remain confidential, which they can maintain until August 31, but the other 6 are ready to share their progress with the world.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
This year, the National Space Society has offered its support to the NSS Space Elevator Team, which will compete in NASA's power beam challenge. To win the challenge, the NSS Space Elevator Team must power a climber to rise up a 1000 meter cable at a speed of 5 meters per second. The climber cannot carry any onboard power or fuel sources - all power must be beamed to it directly.
The Team, which was featured in the Summer 2008 issue of Ad Astra magazine, hopes that the success of their climber will lead to great advances in space based solar power, a powerful part of the National Space Society's future vision of using the resources of space for the betterment of humanity.
As Team Leader of this project, I hope that you will take an interest in our work and consider donating to help us in this important endeavor. As we are dedicated to the cause of a spacefaring civilization and the mission of the National Space Society, the team has pledged that a portion of any prize money will be contributed to the society to establish a chapter project fund which would offer financial aid to chapters for worthy projects. ...
Friday, September 19, 2008
With all of the awful statistics I've just listed, the saddest part of this is that there is a cure for tuberculosis ready and waiting. The reason that so many people die from this disease is that diagnosing it in third world countries is extraordinarily difficult.
Currently, it takes 3 weeks to get results back for a TB diagnosis in the developing world. Patients have to come in several days in a row to give a saliva sample, and then wait. 10-15% of the patients never come back to receive the results of their test. Untreated, or if treated too late, tuberculosis is deadly.
So it is vital for a fast, easy diagnosis to be created that can be used in the field, and deliver results quickly. So that's why we're exploring ideas for tuberculosis diagnosis.
Update: Here's a relevant paper from KEI: The Role of Prizes in Developing Low-Cost, Point-of-Care Rapid Diagnostic Tests and Better Drugs for Tuberculosis
Today, 8th Continent Project announced our third annual business plan competition. As before, we are seeking college and university students to submit proposed business plans that either use or further develop space technologies for an Earth-bound commercial markets. This year, the winner will be awarded $50,000 in cash and in-kind professional services, plus a wild ride for two in the Zero Gravity Corporation aircraft.
The post also covers one of the competitors that didn't win, but that continues to work on applications that are useful in space and on Earth.
8C Business Plan Competition 2009
Briefs: Space Explorers in Seattle; Space tourism raffle - RLV News - The raffle prize is a ride on SpaceShipTwo.
Unreasonable tethered test flights - RLV News on one of the Lunar Lander Challengers
Unreasonable tethered test video - RLV News
Unreasonable tethered test results - RLV News
Briefs: TrueZer0 update; Starchaser grant - RLV News on another Lunar Lander Challenger. It looks like they've flipped the order on the site since the RLV News post to be the typical blog order rather than a traditional book order where the latest is on the bottom.
Masten Space update - RLV News - Masten isn't in the LLC this year, but it's good to keep track of them. This is quite a detailed update.
Black Hole Sun advances - Space for All - A space T-shirt design in a contest reaches the top 5.
Operation Immortality a hit; ESA contest for ISS T-shirt - Space for All
Briefs: Anousheh Ansari newsletter; Mars microphone - Space for All - This post covers the What If? contest. A couple months ago this contest was mentioned in an XPF newsletter, as I posted here: May 28 X PRIZE Foundation Newsletter & What If? Competition. The winners are listed in Ansari's newsletter.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Will is off on a bit of a world tour ... and then to a super secret surprise event which will not be super secret surprisey for very long. ... I'm also working on some interesting initiatives with Google Moon, hopefully allowing us to easily create content showing the potential landing locations of our teams. ... And as always, we've got plenty of potential teams out there wanting to enter competition ... I can't tell you about all of them, as I'm sworn to secrecy.
Here's a bit on one of those potential teams:
Sneak Preview: Our New Office - White Label Space:
... But be informed - White Label Space is coming....
Julian Bennett of Brandt Ronat + Company Wins Google Lunar X PRIZE T-Shirt Design Competition - Brandt Ronat + Company press release
To conclude the evening, Diamandis offered the audience a list of 35 potential Mega-X Prize goals. Circle your top three choices, he said, and we’ll tally the results. Rather than tell you what that particular audience chose, I’ll pass on the list to you. What are your top three choices? What would you add to the list?…
* First (private) Human on Mars
* Faster-than-light Communications
* Organ Replacement
* First Baby Born off Earth
* Babelfish - Instant universal translator
* Flying cars
* Artificial Intelligence: Build a machine that passes the Turing Test
* Self-replicating (non-biological) machines
* Longevity: Double the length of the healthy human lifespan
* Cancer: Be able to detect any cancer at the 100-cell stage and Zap-it
* Predict Earth Quakes with >1 hour / >1 day notice
* Cure for AIDS
* Identify extra-solar life-bearing planet: Any type of replicating life from, single cell or greater
* SETI - Proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence
* NY to Paris in 30 min
* Private, fully-reusable, Orbital Spaceship
* Human to orbit for <$100,000 * Apollo 8: Privately fly 1 person around the moon and safely back to Earth. * Robot Sports: (1) beat Tiger; (2) beat a championship soccer team; (3) beat a Formula-1 team * Humans in Deep Ocean : 3 people to ocean bottom twice in 3 days. * Image 100% of the Ocean Floor * Backup the Biosphere: Create a data backup of the internet and the top 10,000 species on Earth * Replicator: create out of energy and raw materials anything. * Energy Extraction - e.g. ZeroPoint ; Cold Fusion
* Hot Fusion -- Sustained, net-energy positive
* Vision Restoration: Wire up a false eye for a blind person to gain 20:20 vision
* First brain transplant: full functioning of memory and motorfunction and lives > 1 day
* Download brain to a computer with all memory intact
* Brain to brain communication that are more than 10x the speed of audio conversations
* Develop real-time collective consciousness for a group of over 100 people
* Eradicate Hunger for > 90% of the human population
* Eradicate poverty for > 90% of the human population
* Carbon Sequestration: Create an economic device to extract/sequester carbon from the atmosphere
* Create an AI that can engage and educate children to their highest potential
* Develop a teaching system that allows an increase learning rates by an order of magnitude.
Monday, September 15, 2008
MIT class project gets a gold star from Google - 'Locale' will let Android cell phones adjust to surroundings ... A team of MIT students walked away from their spring-semester course with a lot more than just an A and six credits: They just won a $275,000 top prize from Google for the application they developed for the company's new open-source Android cell-phone system.
Here's more information on it from the Google Android site: Locale. The GPS satellite constellation plays a role:
Locale allows users to manage and create locations using an intuitive interface based on the Maps API. ... Users specify locations, times, and other conditions to trigger on. Location conditions utilize Android's location API for high precision GPS positioning.
Here are more winners, some with space contributions or potential space contributions. As you might expect for a mobile device, there are too many location-based applications to list. These are likely to include GPS satellites as an input data source. Perhaps (I didn't check) some also include Google Maps/Google Earth style satellite map data.
There are also a few weather applications. I'm pretty sure the "weather layers" either involve satellite data (probably combined with ground-based radars, etc), or could be extended to include satellite data.
The Weather Channel for Android
The overall contest includes a total of $10M in prize money, awarded for different "phases" and "rounds" and prize levels. The Challenge II round happens after the handsets come out.
I actually have a little time now, but when I get back to work and family help settles down, posting will probably be light.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
First Tether Flight
Masten isn't competing this year, but they have in the past and who knows about the future? Here's a note on their new web look: Briefs: Mojave rocket town; MSS website - RLV News
Armadillo is competing, but this isn't about the LLC part of their work. It would give a distorted view of their efforts if I just included posts that are specifically on their LLC work, though. This one is a pretty comprehensive update from several team members: Armadillo update - RLV News
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The X PRIZE Foundation, an educational nonprofit prize institute widely recognized for fostering innovation through competition, is moving its headquarters from Santa Monica to Playa Vista, effective October 1.
The X PRIZE Foundation will lease nearly 18,000 square feet in the Water’s Edge office complex at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Lincoln Boulevards. The building where the X PRIZE Foundation will be based is anchored by the Southern California studio of Electronic Arts, the world's leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment and games software. ...
The X PRIZE Foundation's neXt PRIZE blog has been keeping a steady stream of posts going. Check it out. Here's an excerpt that shows what kinds of prizes they'd like to offer. Some of them are news to me:
We have several prizes in development at the moment and about once every few days, I (or someone else from Prize Development) intend to blog about what is going on within our pipeline. Currently we have prizes in smoking cessation, longevity, tuberculosis detection, vision restoration, health care informatics, a bionic prize, global development, energy, alternative aviation fuels, biofuels, and an exploration prize that will explore, conserve, heal and help map the ocean floor.
Blasting Off with an X PRIZE Book - Mike Fabio
Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge by X PRIZE Foundation has asked us to be the exclusive webcasters for the up coming Oct. 24-25 2008 event. Awesome! See what that’s all about and how you can help.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
X-Prize Goes Energy—With “Crazy Green Idea” Prize to Debut at MIT Today - Xconomy Boston
Crazy Green Idea - YouTube
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
From the Conrad Awards site:
Students may participate on 1 team in any of 3 challenge areas:
- Personal Spaceflight - assuming you can go to space, create an innovative concept and business plan for personal spaceflight.
- Lunar Exploration - assuming you can go to the Moon, create an entrepreneurial enterprise for lunar exploration.
- Renewable Energy - In response to Al Gore's challenge to America, create a new, clean, carbon-free way of using renewable energy to change everyday life.
Finalist Travel Expenses - finalist teams will receive a $2000 travel stipend.
Discretionary Educational Grants - the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams from each competition category will receive discretionary educational grants to be divided as follows: 50% to the team's school or sponsoring organization (club, group, etc.); 25% to the team's advisor; and 25% to the team members. Grants include a MINIMUM dollar value of:
- 1st place - $10,000
- 2nd place - $6,000
- 3rd place - $4,000
There are also a number of non-cash benefits that should be of particular interest to high school students that might be interested in careers in one of these areas.
During the 4th Mission, teams had already demonstrated all of the required aerial robotic behaviors mandated in the IARC Rules, except being able to demonstrate all of these behaviors seamlessly in under 15 minutes ... The 5th Mission requires a fully autonomous aerial subvehicle - launched from a "mother ship" - to penetrate a building and negotiate the more complex interior space containing hallways, small rooms, obstacles, and dead ends in order to search for a designated target without the aid of global-positioning navigational aids, and relay pictures back to a monitoring station some distance from the building.
The 5th Mission will continue to adhere to the Competition's 18-year practice of posing tasks that cannot be completed with current technology and skills. As with previous missions, nothing within the World military or industrial arsenal of robots will be able to complete the proposed mission at the time the guidelines are released.
From the competition site:
Your assignment is to:
- Design and prepare a Constellation Program Branding Strategy, and
- Illustrate that strategy in a 30-second video public service announcement (PSA) production.
If your team receives the Grand Prize, you will:
- Present your work to senior officials at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
- Choose between:
- Experiencing weightlessness - identical to what astronauts experience in space - aboard the Zero Gravity Corporation's specially modified aircraft, G-FORCE ONE®2 or
- A cash award of $10,000.
They hinted in the article, rightly so, that we would be announcing a new way to get the public involved in deciding what the next X PRIZE in Energy and the Environment.
Here's more about the hint from the article:
At present, anyone with a bright idea for an energy or environmental prize can submit it with an online form. But just to make sure that everyone with a great idea gets involved, the foundation will also announce on the September 10th a prize for proposing prizes. So, even if you can't save the world, you might be able to design a prize that can—and win something in the process.
Here are a few more fuel efficiency items:
The Zen of ZENN: Clean driving - The News Tribune.com (link from X PRIZE Foundation news scroller)
Automotive X Prize News: Sept 7, 2008 - There's 2 weeks worth of links this time. I've gone through about half of them, and it all seems to be unique, interesting content.
Monday, September 08, 2008
NG-LLC TrueZer0 team tests - RLV News
Briefs: Unreasonable debugging; SpacePartnerships; WK1 app - RLV News
Armadillo rocket racer videos - RLV News
A Very Belated Update - Team Phoenicia
If you're going to San Francisco (be sure to wear some rockets in your hair) - The Launch Pad - This post includes a lot of interesting points and hints - just hints! - about some things to expect from the X PRIZE folks in the future. Since this is an LLC post, I'll emphasize the LLC part, and you'll have to go the the post for the rest:
Later we went over to NASA Ames, where they showed me around their co-working space, and we discussed future initiatives to tie into the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.
The spring Battle of the Rockets will be held April 4, 2009 in Culpeper, VA. The competition is open to high school, university, and college teams.
The competition will be composed of multiple events. For high schools, the competition includes G Motor Altitude Event where teams design a rocket to reach the highest altitude possible, the Mars Lander event where teams must launch a rocket and deploy a lander module to land in its upright position. By popular demand, the competition is including a cansat event where high school teams design and build a "satellite" in a soda can and launch it on a rocket to perform a mission.
For universities and colleges, there is the Mars Lander event on a larger scale and an altitude event on an H motor.
Check out www.rocketbattle.org for the competition guides. Registration is due by September 30.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
From the Teach Engineering Award site: The winner receives a plaque or trophy; a $1,000 cash award; recognition at ASEE, NSTA or ITEA conferences; recognition on the TeachEngineering and Engineering Pathway digital library websites; and $1,500 towards registration, travel and accommodations to attend one annual U.S. STEM education conference (ASEE, NSTA, ITEA) within a year of receiving the award.
Get Good Grades, Win Cash and Prizes - Pajamas Media - Here are some related links:
Greenbacks for Grades: Schools Use Material Rewards as Incentive - Edutopia.com - This gives both sides of the discussion, and describes the type of changes that would need to be made at the same time such an award system is put in place.
Cash for Test Scores - The impact of the Texas Advanced Placement Incentive Program - The Hoover Institution - C. Kirabo Jackson - The AP program worked out well for me; I was able to graduate from college a semester early (even though I remember going to a lot of parties and playing basketball most afternoons after school in my AP high school years, not all *that* much homework). Early graduation allowed me to try a semester of grad school and led to my first graduate degree, which in turn led to much of the rest I've done since then. As a result, it's interesting to see what kinds of things are happening with AP now. From the paper:
According to my assessment, the incentives produce meaningful increases in participation in the AP program and improvements in other critical education outcomes. Establishment of APIP results in a 30 percent increase in the number of students scoring above 1100 on the SAT or above 24 on the ACT, and an 8 percent increase in the number of students at a high school who enroll in a college or university in Texas. My evidence suggests that these outcomes are likely the result of stronger encouragement from teachers and guidance counselors to enroll in AP courses, better information provided to students, and changes in teacher and peer norms. The program is not associated with improved high school graduation rates or increases in the number of students taking college entrance exams, suggesting that the APIP improves the outcomes of high-achieving students rather than those students who may not have graduated from high school or even applied to college. Nonetheless, APIP may be an exceptionally good investment. The average per-student cost of the program, between $100 and $300, is very small relative to reasonable estimates of the lifetime benefits of attending and succeeding in college.
Note that the program doesn't just give students rewards for good AP test results; it also gives incentives to AP teachers, and involves an AP class preparation effort before the AP grades (usually grades 11-12).
Advanced Placement Incentive Program Grants - U.S. Department of Education
Advanced Placement Strategies
Advanced Placement Strategies Incentive Programs
Ladies and Gentlemen...... The Winners of Our T-Shirt Design Competition! - Google Lunar X PRIZE
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
The challenge is to build an innovative scientific experiment that will be taken as a payload to the edge of space by a CU Spaceflight high-altitude helium balloon. ... winning five teams will have their experiments launched to roughly 25km altitude ...
The examples for experiments they give sound like good ideas for the suborbital rockets, once those go into service ...
As noted on The Launch Pad, the X PRIZE Foundation has started a new blog on the new X PRIZEs that are under development: neXt PRIZE. They've already had about 10 posts in a few days in prize areas like global development, energy, and the environment.
Up, up and away, Triangle - The News & Observer - Jeff Krukin - Jeff from GLXP team STELLAR speculates on how space commercialization might effect the Research Triangle.
Cash prizes that encourage innovation - Helium.com (link from X PRIZE Foundation news scroller)
RLV News has some Lunar Lander Challenge updates:
Pass to NG-Lunar Lander Challenge via ISPCS 2008 (I didn't expect this one, especially since a recent Space Show interview seemed to indicate the only people that would be able to see the LLC were teams and their supporters and families and other VIPs ...). It looks like there are lots more interesting things to see on the tour. There are a lot of events and talks related to or sponsored by the X PRIZE Foundation and other prize authorities on the ISPCS program, too.
Unreasonable static test (on Unreasonable Rocket of course)
X PRIZE to Test, Evaluate Robotics Co. RoboDynamics Platform - TMCnet Robotics
Space Disco compares a $13.5M KSC landscaping and pest control contract to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Centennial Challenges would have been an interesting comparison, too. KSC is pretty big, though, and 5 years is a lot of time. I might have gone after some other examples in my comparison (perhaps something else you can find at KSC, or - maybe - will find there in a few years?).
Potential GLXP team White Label Space continues with regular posts, as do (some of!) the registered GLXP teams and the XPF folks at The Launch Pad.
For TARC: This year's new task is transporting the one-egg payload lying on its side rather than positioned vertically, mimicking the position of an astronaut.
It isn't all about rocketry: Setting Up a TARC Team to Take Advantage of Tax Laws - Jeff Lane
This comment from the article is on TARC teams, but it probably has some truth in the professional business and engineering world, too:
They have a sense of ownership and pride when they raise the funds themselves and are much more accountable to contributors for their spending.Teams that get “free money” like grants tend to waste their dollars and achieve less-precise results.