Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Space Prizes and Awards Every Day at ISDC 2008

The National Space Society is going to hold the 2008 International Space Development Conference starting this Thursday (with a Space Investment Summit on Wednesday). There are lots of things going on there; here are a few that involve space prizes and awards (and I'm probably missing some):

Wednesday (Space Investment Summit):

9:00 Panel: Early Stage Funding: How to Raise Money to Start and Grow Your Space Company - One of the panelists is Adeo Ressi, board member of the X PRIZE Foundation
12:15 Luncheon - Peter Diamandis
2:45 Business Plan Presentations - One of the companies is GLXP competitor Odyssey Moon.


12:00 Luncheon - NSS Space Pioneer Award (as with most of these, jjust part of the luncheon)
4:00 The University of Luna: A Case for Google Sponsorships (perhaps not prize-related, but it could be from the title)
4:00 Community Support of NewSpace Business (Jeff Krukin of GLXP Team STELLAR)
7:00 Dinner - NSS Student Award


12:00 Luncheon: NSS Space Pioneer Award for Education
3:00 Yuri's Night: Overview, Summary of 2008 Events, and Workshop on Hosting Your Own Awesome Space Party - Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides of GLXP Team Odyssey Moon is one of the speakers
5:00 Low Cost Access to Space - Tim Pickens is on the panel, and is involved in the Google Lunar X PRIZE as well as earlier prizes
7:30 Dinner: NSS Heinlein Award - winner: Burt Rutan of SpaceShipOne/Ansari X PRIZE fame


11:00: Space Tourism Panel - Anousheh Ansari of the Ansari X PRIZE is on the panel
12:00 Luncheon: Anousheh Ansari speaks
2:00 Google Lunar X PRIZE - Bob Richards (Odyssey Moon), Paul Carliner, Quantum 3) and Will Pomerantz (X PRIZE Foundation)
3:30 NSS Space Elevator Team Status Update - Bert Murray
NSS Chapter Awards
4:00 Teachers in Space: Pathfinder Selection Competition - Edward Wright
5:20 NSS Space Settlement Contest Student Presentations
7:00 Dinner: NSS Space Pioneer Award
Chris Pancratz Activist of the Year
NSS Excellence Awards

Also, from the Space Elevator Blog, which covers the Space Elevator Games:

KC Space Pirates expected at ISDC

Ted from SE Blog expected at ISDC

Something undefined related to the Space Elevator expected (related to the Games?) at ISDC

The 2008 winners of the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest should be honored at some point at the ISDC, but I'm not sure when that is, or if it's still happening. I didn't notice it on the schedule. John Carmack of Lunar Lander Challenge team Armadillo Aerospace is listed on the main speakers page, but I didn't see him in the detailed schedule, so again I'm not sure what the deal is there. The same is true for America's Space Prize sponsor Robert Bigelow.

North Caroline GLXP Team in Local News

N.C. team is going for the moon - Bladen Journal - The short article mentions Team STELLAR's different "sub-teams" and sponsors.

How to Win the GLXP - Popular Mechanics

I mentioned the GLXP cover story in Popular Mechanics a while ago, but I think it wasn't available online (although other related PM GLXP content was). At any rate, here it is now:

How to Win the Google Lunar X Prize and Beat NASA to the Moon - Popular Mechanics

A Different Balloon Project Attempt

No, it's not the Fournier near-space skydive attempt that hit a snag, it's an attempt to remotely guide a balloon across the Atlantic Ocean. The project, invoking what's probably the most famous of all innovation prize competitions, is called The Spirit of Knoxville - or "SNOX" for short.

Amateur radio buffs devote three years to balloon project that reaches new heights

Here's a prize-related snippet:

His dream is to work in the aerospace industry. Bowen plans to trade his balloon flight notoriety for a job. He wants to work for one of the companies that is pioneering the space-tourism industry. Or join a team that is competing for the Google Lunar X Prize.

Aviation Safety Prize Rules

$50,000 Handling Qualities Prize Detailed - CAFE Foundation - This is part of the General Aviation Technology Challenge.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bad GLXP News Gets Worse

Earlier I posted on some second thoughts that SCSG is having after the Google Lunar X PRIZE Summit. Now they've described more problems and are exiting the competition:

I had a sudden moment of clarity when I realized that even if we could make it through our enormous hurdles of getting a suitable launch vehicle, and even if we could get a sponsor, for the reasons stated here and in my previous blog, I no longer even wanted to win this prize!!

I assume this will result in some soul-searching on the part of the X PRIZE Foundation GLXP group.

University of Washington - Senior Space Design (X PRIZE) - GLXP Forum - An Aeronautics and Astronautics Spacecraft and Space Systems Design I/II course based on the GLXP will be making its presentation soon.

FREDNET at Google Lunar X PRIZE Summit, Strassbourg 2008 - Heidi Nielson at the GLXP Teams site

Zero Science

Map reading secrets may yield $10m, innovations - Nashua Telegraph.com (link from X PRIZE Foundation news ticker) - covers Genomics X PRIZE Team ZS Genetics, which works with the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies at the University of New Hampshire. It explains the "reads" that ZS's system does during genome sequencing. It sounds like going for the prize is right for ZS Genetics because it aligns well with what they need to do to make their product, and it works well for UNH, too, because winning the prize would be good press and "cool", which is important if you want to attract good students and researchers.

Mixing Together Some Lunar Prizes

Here are some quick updates related to 3 lunar prizes:

Heading for the Moon - The Google Lunar Xprize - Mark Posen from RPC Telecommunications announces that RPC Telecommunications has joined up with "InterPlanetary Ventures", a multinational team being formed to enter the Lunar Xprize challenge. Personally, I'm taking on the task of looking after the regulatory and licencing aspects for the IPV team, and will also work with the communications team in designing the Earth-moon communications links.

Interplanetary Ventures hasn't officially registered, but they haven't kept their intentions secret.

Some serious thinking at the Southern California Selene Group - SCSG on GLXP Teams site (link and comments from RLV News) - they are having doubts about launch costs rising, getting a sponsor, and the manned spaceflight vision of the X PRIZE Foundation. On the last point, I'd say what's important is what the team wants to accomplish, not the XPF's spaceflight vision. If they're interested in making robotic missions to moons more feasible (a goal I'm quite sympathetic to, being mainly interested in robotic missions myself unless/until human spaceflight gets a major enabling overhaul such as what XPF hopes for), they should make sure that's what their effort does.

N.C. team shoots for moon in $30M contest - WRAL.com - an article about the new local GLXP team STELLAR

FLOOD! - This was on April 25, but I missed it then, and I don't know how it turned out. It affects unofficial Regolith Challenge team ACME Robotics.

May 2008 Update - Masten Space Systems (Jon Goff) - link from RLV News - This is a major MSS update that covers all sorts of hardware and software work, pictures, design changes, interactions with other LLC teams Paragon and Armadillo, revamping workspaces, igniter sales from Space Access, other potential MSS products and services, team members leaving and new ones arriving, internships available, and business we may hear about later. They're not sure if they'll be able to go for the Lunar Lander Challenge this year.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lunar X PRIZE Vids at YouTube

Here are some Google Lunar X PRIZE videos that I haven't noticed at the site (which doesn't mean they aren't there). They were recently uploaded to YouTube.

Peter Diamandis - GLXP Student Competition - He describes the quick results from the student teams, and the prizes (trips to the X PRIZE Cup and a Shuttle launch).

Peter Diamandis - ARCA's first test launch - From the summary: Peter Diamandis, X PRIZE Foundation's Chairman & CEO, comments on the announcement made by ARCA at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit in Strasbourg, France, on May 21, 2008, that they will test launch with hardware in August/September 2008.

Peter Diamandis - GLXP First Team Summit - He overviews the GLXP Team Summit.

Google Lunar X PRIZE First Team Summit Part1 (6 min 30 sec) - From the summary: Part1 contains an introduction from X PRIZE Vice Chairman, Robert Weiss and presentations from Peter Diamandis, Michael Simpson (President, Intl Space, Univ) and Google's Tiffany Montague, GLXP Program Manager.

Google Lunar X PRIZE First Team Summit Part2 (9 min 48 sec) - From the summary: Part 2 contains presentations from Odyssey Moon (Team Leader: Dr. Robert Richards), Astrobotic (Team Leader: William 'Red' Whittaker), Southern California Selene Group (Associate Team Leader: Deborah Castleman) and FREDNET (Team Leader: Fred Bourgeois III).

Google Lunar X PRIZE First Team Summit Part3 (8 min 35 sec) - From the summary: Contains team presentations by ARCA (Team Leader, Dumitru Popescu), LunaTrex (Technical Team Leader: Mary Cafasso), Quantum 3 (Team Leader: Paul Carliner) and Chandah (Team Leader: Adil Jafry).

Google Lunar X PRIZE First Team Summit Part4 (3 min 51 sec) - From the summary: Announcing 4 new contenders with a presentation from the US based JURBAN Team (Team Leader: Dr. Jayfus T. Doswell). The other 3 teams are Advaeros from Malaysia, STELLAR (from the US) and a Mystery Team that has chosen to stay anonymous for now. Stay tuned for more info later.

Also on the GLXP:

Phoenix Mars Mission lands this Sunday - Frednet blog

Thursday, May 22, 2008

UARC Wins NASA Award

UC Santa Cruz research team earns NASA award - Spaceref - This press release is on a NASA award, the NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award, for the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). It's for research that

focuses primarily on information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, computer science, aerospace operations, air-traffic management, and space and Earth sciences.

Astrobotic Videos

Here are some Astrobotic videos at the GLXP site showing off various pieces of Astrobotic hardware:

Lithium Ion Phosphate battery

Lander and Thermal Renderings

Camera Technology

Asteroid Contests

Animation of Foresight: A Radio Beacon Mission to Asteroid Apophis - Planetary Defense (A.C. Charania) - Spaceworks Engineering has a video depiction of their mission plan to Apophis that won the Planetary Society contest.

Move An Asteroid 2008 - technical paper competition - Space for All - posts a reminder from A.C. Charania about the "Move An Asteroid 2008": International Technical Paper Competition. Entries are due by June 9.

Mars Society University Rover Challenge Update

A while ago I posted on the Mars Project Challenge, an effort in contest form to have Mars Society members come up with ideas to take the Society to the next level. They are

looking for a bold and inspiring project in the $10M range.

As I mentioned in the earlier post, that's a good range for something Mars and prize-related ... if they can get the money (or a reasonable fraction of it). Anyway, the deadline is almost here; the deadline is May 25, which happens to be the day Phoenix arrives on Mars.

This isn't the only contest the Mars Society is holding. There's also the University Rover Challenge:

College Teams Prepare for Mars Face-Off at University Rover Challenge - 9 teams have signed up. The contest will happen soon - June 5-7. Raytheon is sponsoring the contest.

Florida RLV Prize Bill Signed

RLV News notes that the Governor signed the bill with, among other things, a provision for a $20M contribution from the State of Florida to an RLV Prize. Also see the comment from Gary Hudson.

Fla. pension to invest in high-tech, space - Forbes.com

From the bill site:

05/21/08 Approved by Governor; Chapter No. 2008-31 Wednesday, May 21, 2008 4:33 PM

05/16/08 Signed by Officers and presented to Governor Friday, May 16, 2008 4:28 PM

Masten Fast Pitch

Masten Space at a riot of startups - RLV News posts on an investment pitch event described on the Masten blog.

Updates on 2008 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award

I haven't posted much on the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award because I didn't know so many details were out. I assumed I'd have to wait until the X PRIZE Cup details were released, but I was wrong. There are a lot of details on the student competition that I haven't seen before. Check it out here. Some details from that page:

The 2008 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award includes two competition categories:

Personal spaceflight: Assume you can go to space. Create an innovative concept and business plan for use in personal spaceflight.
Lunar exploration: Assume you can go to the moon. Create an entrepreneurial venture for lunar exploration.

Students will compete for over $20,000 in prize money, trips to the 2008 X PRIZE Cup, and many more special benefits stemming from the competition’s unique position within the aerospace industry.

The site goes into details on the important benefits to the competitors, but you'll have to go to it to read them. Some more links:

Competition Details

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award 2008 Rules (PDF)

NASA Means Business 2008

NASA Means Business Competition Awards Top Honors for 2008 - Coalition for Space Exploration - From the article:

The team from the University of Wisconsin - Madison received grand prize honors, including a trip to Washington, D.C. to present its winning entry to top NASA officials and a cash prize. Other finalist teams participating in the final judging were from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Bentley College of Waltham, Mass.; and Miami International University of Art & Design – Miami, Fla.


The annual competition, sponsored by NASA and the Coalition for Space Exploration and directed by TSGC, meets NASA’s need for promotion by enlisting the innovative minds of today’s college students. This year, participating teams were challenged to develop a program to help NASA share the innovation and technologies it creates to spur developments in research and commerce. The goal was to increase awareness that the nation’s investment in spaceflight technologies can be used in a variety of fields beyond NASA.

There's more in the article on the winning team's efforts. It's not over, though - the winning team has more ahead of them (see the 2008 event timeline.

The NMB site is already posting an early bird call for 2009.

GLXP Team Summit Update

The news and information update opportunities continue at the GLXP Team Summit:

ARCA to test lunar lander with suborbital spaceflight - RLV News - links to several information sources on ARCA's announcement at the summit; there are pictures from the announcement with a good visual aid

Briefs: New GLXP teams; Summit webcast; Student Competition - RLV News - There are several items here, but the one I'll note is the Team Summit Webcast.

Embry-Riddle students test lunar ambitions - East Volusia News-Journal Online.com - 6 recent graduates competed in the GLXP student competition

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

14 Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams

The X PRIZE Foundation has a press release on the Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit that reveals 4 new teams: X PRIZE Foundation Holds Team Summit, Introduces Official Contenders in Private Moon Race

From the press release (which also describes the student team competition and other aspects of the meeting):

The four new teams are:

Advaeros: Team Advaeros is led by Hanidy Yusof, who founded the Malaysian company Advanced Aerospace Industries. Advanced Aerospace Industries is a small Research and Development company dealing with smart systems for navigation, robotic application, aeronautical and space related activities. They are a team of enthusiastic technical people who work together for the future dreams of flight, both for fun and for knowledge. They plan to design their own launch vehicle, focusing part of their team on craft design, and the rest on launch vehicle design.

JURBAN: Started in 2000, the Juxtopia® Group, Inc. is a not-for-profit research organization whose mission is to improve human learning performance with science and technology that adapts to individual learning needs, enhances cognitive performance, and augments human learning capabilities anytime, anywhere, at any pace, and for anyone. The Juxtopia® Urban Robotics Brilliant Application National (JURBAN) challenge is a Juxtopia® Group program. The JURBAN Challenge Program trains underserved and disadvantaged students to build autonomous service robotic systems that have significant impact in their community. Led by Dr. Jayfus T. Doswell, the JURBAN team will be made up of professional and student engineers.

STELLAR: Based in North Carolina and led by Dick Dell, Team STELLAR includes team members from Insight Technologies, the Advanced Vehicle Research Center, and North Carolina State University. The team plans to highlight educational outreach, and includes volunteers from two schools that participate in the FIRST Robotics competition, which is a national high school competition based in the United States.

Mystery Team: Google Lunar X PRIZE teams have the option of officially registering but remaining anonymous until July 20, 2009. One new team has chosen to keep their identity a secret for the moment, but they are still working hard on their mission plan.

RLV News posts a press release by one of the new teams, Team STELLAR. It gives more details on the team than you see in the paragraph above. The RLV News post also links to the STELLAR web site and the GLXP Teams site, which has a lot of information about the Stellar team.

In fact, all 4 new teams appear on the GLXP Teams site. Even the Mystery Team has an entry. In fact, the mystery team will be blogging like the others. There's a contest to see if you can guess facts about the mystery team. There are a lot of details on the Teams site about the other 2 teams as well. JURBAN has experience in the DARPA Challenges. I expect to be posting about all of them in the near future. Good luck to all of the teams! Hopefully we'll see more bonus prizes funded so more teams will be able to make it to the Moon.

GLXP Posts from Summit and a Team Member Profile

GLXP Teams at the Google Headquarters in February - Chandah - I'll guess that the teams have been checking each other out, and realizing that they can no longer count each other on their fingers. We'll see tomorrow.

Google Lunar X-Prize: More Teams To Join? - Colony Worlds - They have some thoughts on the Team Chandah post.

Getting media trained at GLXP Summit - Chandah

Team Member Profiles: Rick Wills - LunaTrex

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Florida RLV Bill at Governor's Desk

RLV News has the latest status on the Florida bill that includes an RLV prize.

Bill would light a fire under Florida's economy - advocates that Governor Crist sign the bill, which has a provision for a $20M/$20M public/private funded RLV prize. (Any comment I might make on who would step up on the private side would be pure speculation). As you can see in this post from May 2, I couldn't tell whether or not this version or the House version with a much smaller public contribution was being carried forward.

You can see the latest status here. The latest activity happened a few days ago:

Bill History:

05/16/08 Signed by Officers and presented to Governor Friday, May 16, 2008 4:28 PM
05/02/08 S Ordered engrossed, then enrolled -SJ 01563 Friday, May 02, 2008 11:34 AM
05/02/08 S CS passed as amended; YEAS 40 NAYS 0 -SJ 01563 Friday, May 02, 2008 11:34 AM

Diamandis Asks for Thoughts on Mega-Prizes

I posted recently about Mega-Prizes, a term that Peter Diamandis used in a recent talk on large prizes for advances that seem impossible or almost so today, and that is also used in some academic prize literature for advances that "trigger radical new directions in science".

Diamandis presents the concept in an XPF blog video.

I guess if I were allocating $100M in prize money (the lower end of what Diamandis is suggesting), I'd probably allocate it for 5-20 smaller prize competitions, since the method has been shown to work well compared to other alternatives in that range. It would be too bad if the $100M opportunity for progress were blown because the challenge was, in fact, as impossible as it seemed.

I guess I'm more inclined to go for several smaller goals that give incremental progress than going all-out on a big project:

Mars Observer, or several smaller Mars robotic missions?

For a more difficult choice, Cassini, or 6-8 Discovery missions?

ESAS/Constellation, or Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Rocketplane, Space Ship 2, Lynx, Spaceloft, Pixel, JP Aerospace, Taurus II, XA 2.0, and numerous other smaller space access projects that could happen with the same funding?

Of course I'd also be inclined to do the mega-prize if the concept generally made sense and that's what the prize funder wanted ... it could work!

GLXP Team Summit Student Competition Results

The Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit Student Competition - X PRIZE Foundation news post:

The competition, which required students to plan a mission based on the Google Lunar X PRIZE, resulted in a tie between the International Space University and the University of Stuttgart.

Picasa Photo Album for the Team Summit Student Competition 2008 (266 photos)

GLXP Team Summit Arrives - Student Competition

The Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit's Student Competition is under way ... you can see more photos, various videos of the students at work, and twitter updates.

I suspect this post will be out of date in a couple hours as more Team Summit updates keep coming.

The Mighty Tether

The Space Elevator Blog posts on The Mighty Tether, a movie about the Strong Tether NASA Centennial Challenge featuring team Astroaraneae. From the trailer, it looks like some of the scenes are from the year when the Space Elevator Games were at the X PRIZE Cup, so you'll see some of that in the film, too.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Queen's Space Engineers in the Paper

News from the Queen’s Space Engineering Team - The Space Elevator Blog picks up a post from QSET, and also points out a news article about the team:

Queen's team to build space elevator; Project to be part of international competition that offers $2M grand prize - The Kingston Whig-Standard

I did notice one mistake in the article - last year's competition was held in Utah, not Arizona - but generally the article gives a good overview of the team and competition.

More TARC Results

Rocketry Planet - You already know the main news about the winners, but the post also links to a number of other articles about teams at the event. See the links on the right of the Rocketry Planet page. Here's a few more:

For this Northwest High team, it is rocket science - Star-Telegram

Malfunction dooms Turner High School rocket team - Kansas City Star

Rocket teams place in top 50 in nation - rrstar.com

2008 TARC Contest Photos - AIA Aerospace Flickr page

GLXP Team Summit Approaches

From the YouTube Google Lunar X PRIZE Playlist:

ARCA loads in their surprise... but what is it? - A mystery delivery from ARCA ...

Team Summit Intro Video - Will Pomerantz's latest post in a series from the Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit at the International Space University features an ARCA mock-up in the background. Will expains the reasons for the summit - communicating with the teams about things like the competition rules, plus events like the Student Competition.

2008 GLXP Team Summit: Student Competition - Twitter updates, photos, and videos from the teams. One of them mentions Pete Worden joining in.

Pro-Space Video Contest

The Space Show has an interview with Greg Zsidisin, and part of the interview (80% or more of the way in) is about a space contest that Greg plans to sponsor. The goal is to make the best short pro (or even anti) space video, and the prize is $1,000. Greg is the judge of who wins.

Check SpaceContest.org for more information.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More From Will Pomerantz on GLXP Team Summit

Highlights from Strasbourg - Will is preparing for the GLXP Team Summit, but also checks to check the place out with other GLXP XPF members and partners.

Getting Here - help for teams going to the meeting

X PRIZE Foundation Jobs

One of numerous articles that X PRIZE Cars covered recently is one from AutoblogGreen about X PRIZE Foundation hiring for several positions for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, doubling the size of that group. If you check out the X PRIZE Foundation site's Join Our Team site, you'll see a bunch of AXP job postings, and several others as well.

Double the Paperwork

Paperwork and other projects.... - Unreasonable Rocket does FAA paperwork for 90-second and 180-second Lunar Lander Challenge vehicles. Flometrics is helping with the computational fluid dynamics analysis that's needed to complete the paperwork.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

TARC Today

Today is the Team America Rocketry Challenge held in The Plains, Virginia. Spaceref has a press release about the Jacksonville Florida Challenger Learning Center participation in the event with 1 of the 100 finalist teams. In addition, they will be

providing astronaut training activities for all event guests and participating students from across the United States. Students will be able to take a ride in the Barany chair, a spinning chair used to help pilots and astronauts adjust to disorientation, and to try their hand at tossing a ball using special glasses that simulates what it might be like to work on the space station.

Update (May 17 evening): Here are the 2008 contest final results. Currently on the main TARC page:

A team from Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, won the national Sixth Annual Team America Rocketry Challenge Saturday, beating out 99 rivals for the title. The 10-member team rose to the top of squads of middle and high school-aged students facing off in the final round of the world's largest rocket competition held today outside of Washington, D.C.

"We saw it go up and it looked perfect and it was ideal," Enloe team Captain Levon Keusseyan said.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Astrobotic Analysis; Getting Around at GLXP Summit

Astrobotic has posted 3 more GLXP Pictures. Each comes with a brief description:

Solar Analysis

Structural Analysis

Second Prototype Rover

They're all in the Astrobotic Public Gallery of photos, where you can run a slide show or download them for close-up views.

William Pomerantz has some Quick Summit Notes on things like transportation to the ISU site for those going to the GLXP Team Summit.

NASA Authorization Act of 2008 - Innovation Prizes

Space Politics covers HR 6063, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008. Let the dissection of the bill begin! In my first skim through it, I saw quite a bit that would be interest to commercial space, Earth science, space science, and aeronautic advocates. Innovative-sounding provisions were also added to the NASA lunar plan. It didn't strike me as a "NASA business as usual" bill. There might be some sticker shock along the way, though.

NASA authorization bill introduced in House

NASA authorization bill text available

Here's the prize section (and for your reference, here's Section 314 that's mentioned). Although it would increase the potential size of NASA prizes, I didn't see any request for actual funding for 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'.

X PRIZE Foundation Cancer X PRIZE Suite

In the Future X PRIZE content from the X PRIZE Foundation I just posted on is a link to a 15-page Cancer X PRIZE Suite Strategic Plan document. It describes initial prize definition work funded by the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Goldhirsh Foundation, and goes into details on why we're seemingly "stuck" in the goal of better patient outcomes even though much progress has been made in cancer science. As with space, many of the problems are economic, regulatory, and institutional. It also describes the approach that would be taken by the XPF - not duplicating cancer drug research which is already well-funded, but instead covering the whole range of prevention, diagnosis, and therapy, in areas where current incentives aren't sufficient. The emphasis will be on prevention and diagnosis.

They propose (realize they probably need to convince someone to fund the prizes) 3 prizes, and 3 backups:

1. Smoking Cessation X PRIZE - an X PRIZE to the team getting the largest number of people to quit smoking for at least 2 years. It seems like they'd like to launch this one in 2009. Note that Elon Musk produced Thak You for Smoking; I wonder if he'd be interested in this one.

2. Imaging X PRIZE - for a technology that allows for the detection and localization at a very early stage ... The resulting invention would allow physicians to non-invasively explore the body and detect and characterize disease as small as a few hundred cells. I suspect there would be some uses for it outside the cancer field, too.

3. The third proposed prize would be for the ability to selectively and specifically destroy tumors anywhere in the body.

The backup prize ideas are for making an expensive cancer fighting technology cheaper so more people have access to it, a smoking prevention vaccine, and the cancer center with the best patient outcomes.

Future X PRIZEs

I'm not sure if this is new or not, but the X PRIZE Foundation has a lot more information on their future X PRIZE plans than I've seen before on their web site. I've posted on some of this already based on XPF lectures and articles, but without nearly as much detail. I don't know how many of these will ultimately become actual competitions; some of them clearly at least have initial funding for prize development.

Exploration - No new space prizes are listed here, but they have

received a grant to explore an Ocean X PRIZE Suite. The suite will likely focus on any or all of four target areas:

oceanographic research, exploration, conservation, and healing. Some of these sound like they belong in the energy/environment suite as much as the exploration one, but there's nothing wrong with addressing 2 areas at the same time. In fact I'd like to see some space prizes that overlap with these other areas.

Life Sciences - This mentions a Human Longevity X PRIZE, but most of the section covers the Cancer X PRIZE Suite, which I'll discuss in a separate post.

Education - They are investigating education prizes that might involve learning technologies or city competitions. Their inspirations range from the FIRST Robotics Competition to Expeditionary Learning. One approach I might take, instead of something like an educational software tool prize, is an X PRIZE (or numerous smaller prizes) that students can try to win like FIRST, TARC, Cansat, and so on. The prizes of course would be designed to require the competitor students to learn a lot.

Global Entrepreneurship - From the site:

The X PRIZE Foundation has secured grants to explore a Village Utility X PRIZE. ... The global competition would leverage technology-based innovation to develop more effective ways to deliver power, water and connectivity to communities in need in the developing world.

Energy and Environment - Again from the site (I hope they find a synonym for "develop"):

The X PRIZE foundation received a grant to develop a prize to develop and promote widespread adoption of clean aviation fuel. We’re also developing a partnership for second generation small scale distributed biofuel production technologies.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Major Company Going for Automotive X PRIZE

One of the things I've been hoping to see with the Automotive X PRIZE is major companies with large-scale manufacturing capabilities entering the competition. I like to see the small teams and their innovative approaches, but I also like to see "dinosaurs" (as some NewSpace people refer to the large government-oriented companies in their industry) grow "fur". They can do things that small companies can't - each has its advantages.

Here's the news I've been waiting for, from X PRIZE Cars:

Tata Motors to Enter Two Vehicles in Automotive X Prize - Tata plans to enter in the alternative and mainstream class competitions. Tata is a multi-industry giant:

The Tata Group is one of India's largest and most respected business conglomerates, with revenues in 2006-07 of $28.8 billion or Rs129,994 crore (not including Corus financials), the equivalent of about 3.2 per cent of the country's GDP, and a market capitalisation of $66.26 billion as on April 30, 2008. Tata companies together employ some 289,500 people.

X PRIZE Cars notes that Tata Motors alone is pretty big. Now we'll have to see how the other major auto manufacturers react.

The accompanying press release mentions some other new contestants:

Other recent entrants to the Letter of Intent program include Motive Industries of Canada, Western Washington University, Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc. of Chicago, IL and TTW Turin Italy of Turin, Italy. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young also intends to enter his 1960 Lincoln Continental conversion into the competition, along with his partner Jonathan Goodwin.

There's a lot more news in this recent X PRIZE Cars post.

Pomerantz on Lunar X PRIZE Guidelines 2.0

Will Pomerantz has 2 blog posts today related to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. From the posts, you can expect a lot more in the next few days from an upcoming GLXP event and the ISDC.

Je suis arrivée! - Will arrives at the ISU, where the first Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit is going to take place May 20-21.

New Google Lunar X PRIZE Guidelines Released - I'm skimming through the guidelines now; I'm not sure if I ever had a look at the "official" first draft of the rules. Will shows you where you can get a copy, and also posts a cover letter that highlights changes in the rules. One major change deals with payload mass: payload can be split in a lander/rover scenario, and very lightweight systems don't need to carry as much payload. Another big change deals with media rights. The Foundation plans to hire a media agency of some sort to deal with TV and other media. Resulting income helps cover XPF expenses to run the competition. However,

The XPF will share and distribute the revenue from these media sales with the teams. The Grand Prize winner will be entitled to the largest single share of any net revenue. If there is a Second Place winner, that Team will also earn a significant share of the revenues. A portion of the remaining funds will be split between the other registered Teams, who, though they haven’t won, will have added to the overall value and quality of the competition. The media revenue share formula is still being developed and will be released soon.

Here are a couple snippets from the Guidelines themselves. It's 24 pages, so please download them and check them out if you want to know about them. This is just a tiny peek. Both snippets involve possible, do-not-count-on-it additional revenue for teams. First:

Purse values and Mooncast Requirements shall be assigned to each Bonus Prize no later than January 1, 2009, though new Bonuses may be subsequently offered.

Second (this could be cool if it involves milestones that are useful as products in and of themselves, and/or involve public demos at venues like the X PRIZE Cup):

XPF is seeking to develop an investment pool from which TEAMs could earn small cash payments by participating in or completing XPF-designated Demonstrations or Milestones.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

TARC Approaches

Here's more on TARC (Team America Rocketry Challenge). The finals are scheduled for this Saturday:

Future astronaut 'A-Ok' on ACT - Cincinnati.com

It is rocket science for this Oktoc homeschooler - Commercial Dispatch Online

One Thing At A Time ...

Micro-Space has a GLXP Teams update on a trip to India and a deal for Moon rocks. "Lunar Sample Return" capability is pretty ambitious on top of the already-tough (if I can be permitted an understatement) GLXP requirements ... but the post says that LSR could also be a follow-on effort.

Space Business Plan Competition

This one is from Space for All: The 8th Continent Project at the Colorado School of Mines is going to have a Space Business Plan competition in 2009. In past years this was called the "Lunar Ventures" competition.

8th Continent Project Announces Business Plan Competition - Space 2.0 Blog

As with Lunar Ventures:

the competition focuses on developing viable space-related business plans for technologies that have real-world potential. The 8th Continent Project Business Plan Competition challenges students in business, engineering and science to collaborate in creating business ventures related to space, but with immediate application on Earth. Teams should consist primarily of graduate students, although undergraduate participation is welcome. Prizes for the winner include up to $50,000 in cash and in-kind services.

2009 Business Plan Competition Video

Updated Space Elevator Game Rules

In what might (if you can go by those web address things) be its 1000th post, the Space Elevator Blog announces the latest Space Elevator Games rules.

The comments also have an announcement by (assuming as usual no impostors) Team Astroaraneae, one of the tether teams that has done well in the past. They don't expect to be able to compete this year because they need more sponsorship.

Satellite Navigation Challenges

From Jim Volp Blog comes news of the European Satellite Navigation Competition and UK SatNav Challenge. The competitions aim

to identify and stimulate new GNSS applications and technologies throughout Europe. It will also encourage a support network to nurture emerging ideas from concept to commercial reality.

There are a number of prize categories.

The European Space Agency’s Technology Transfer Programme is seeking innovative and creative business ideas, aiming at a quick market implementation and a high value capture The field of application is not relevant for this innovation prize as long as it is based on the utilisation of satellite navigation in a non-space business environment.

MIT Studies X PRIZEs

The X PRIZE Foundation posted a video by Peter Diamandis about a partnership with MIT called X PRIZE Lab. An MIT class that just concluded investigated a number of health care X PRIZE concepts. This is helpful to the X PRIZE Foundation as they try to come up with the next X PRIZEs. The video ends with this note that should motivate students to get into and succeed in those tough schools like MIT:

Classes will run again in the Autumn of 2008 with a focus on Sustainable Energy.

You can learn more details about this semester's class at MIT News.

MIT is no stranger to the concept of innovation prizes. They aren't exactly the same type of prizes targeted to very specific technical goals as X PRIZEs, but see the Lemelson-MIT Awards for Invention and Innovation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Rocket Engine for the Masses

PopSci.com covers The Viper, a rocket engine product at Frontier Astronautics. Lunar Lander Challenger Bob Steinke of SpeedUp makes an appearance in the article:

And whereas other space-tourism rockets are being built for one specific ship, the Viper’s design is so versatile, Bendel is building it on spec. “It’s up to the market whether people are going to buy it or not,” says Bob Steinke, president of SpeedUp, a start-up that’s using one of Bendel’s earlier engines to power its Lunar Lander Challenge entry.

There's also a video with Tim Bendel showing off the non-traditional Frontier Astronautics office and a heavy prototype version of the Viper.

FredNet and Odyssey Moon Team Updates

I've already posted about some of the information mentioned in the latest GLXP Teams updates (FredNet at Maker Faire, FredNet on YouTube, Odyssey Moon and more GLXP at CNN Just Imagine, and GLXP [especially FredNet] at Popular Mechanics), but it's cooler to hear about it from the real people, and there are some items that I missed in my web surfing:

Maker Faire - FredNet (Am I capitalizing it correctly?) starting to get us up to speed with a lot of activity recently ... expect the following soon:

Up Next Post: The Strasbourg Team Summit, Progress made, and an update on the FREDNET team.

Bob Richards Featured on CNN's "Just Imagine" Interstitials- Starting Today! - Loretta Whitesides from Odyssey Moon

Team FREDNET Leader Fred Bourgeois interviewed on the Popular Mechanics Show podcast - FredNet, which also has some comments on the GLXP Popular Mechanics cover story (I have fridge problems so I still haven't gotten to the bookstore ...).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tourists in Space: A Practical Guide

Yes, it's another book I haven't read, but that Amazon.com thinks I'd be interested in based on past purchases. Again, it was because of a textbook I bought for school. Having not read it, all I can say at this point is "sounds interesting".

Tourists in Space: A Practical Guide by Eric Seedhouse starts with a chapter that features SpaceShipOne and the Ansari X PRIZE. You can get a glimpse of this part using the "Search inside this book" feature. The book covers topics like company profiles, medical training requirements and various other aspects of humans in the space environment, survival training, vehicle orientation, and more.

If you do check it out, try getting to Amazon.com through one of the other space sites.

May 2008 Armadillo Update

RLV News links to the latest every-month-or-so update from Armadillo Aerospace. Clearly they have a lot going on besides the Lunar Lander Challenge, which is what I like to see.

Popular Mechanics on GLXP; Some LunaTrex

CNN recently had a multi-part series of articles featuring the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Now Popular Mechanics is getting into it, too.

Tne New Moon Race - June 2008 Popular Mechanics Cover Story - I can't say much about it since I haven't been in a book store lately. I'll have to pick up a copy next time I get a chance. The PM link I used says:

Google X Prize, Mythbusters & More! Want to take $20 million off Google's hands? Our DIY guide to building a lunar rover could make you the next X Prize winner—really.

Debating NASA vs. DIY Rocketeers, Lunar Real Estate and the Open-Source X Prize: My Own Private Space PODCAST - The 3rd part of this Popular Mechanics podcast, about 20 minutes in, is an interview of Fred Borgouis, leader of GLXP Open Source team FredNet. The first part features some space prize events as well (eg: Burt and Ansari X PRIZE, picture or Lunar Lander Challenge). The 2nd part, an interview of Glenn Reynolds, concerns space property rights.

At the GLXP teams site, LunaTrex has another team member profile, this time for Joseph (Joe) Gangestad, President, Orbit Frontiers, LLC.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pharmceutical Innovation Prizes

While the space community works with prizes in areas where traditional approaches haven't worked well, a bigger struggle is being waged worldwide in the area of health care and pharmaceuticals. Battles are waged over patents, price controls, and various alternatives to the regimes found in most countries. Some of the alternatives involve innovation prizes. You can get a glimpse at some of the competing ideas in the latest KEI Policy Blog prize post.

One of the alternative approaches that the U.S. government is actually trying is the priority review voucher. This is a "prize" where

the US Food and Drug Administration grant transferable "priority review vouchers" to companies that successfully obtain approval for a drug or vaccine against neglected diseases, which can then be used to jump the queue for a review of another of the company's FDA applications - shaving up to a year off the time to market for a potential blockbuster product. This accelerated approval could be worth over $300 million to major pharmaceutical companies; moreover, this also benefits smaller biotechnology companies (who could sell such a voucher to a larger company) and generic firms (who can also enter the market sooner given the earlier patent expiration).

BioWorld has more on neglected diseases and priority review vouchers.

For the space people reading this blog, that's like having the government choose some technical space goal it considers worthy (like the existing and proposed Centennial Challenges, or "get me detailed measurements of Shackleton Crater", or "demonstrate solving my Operationally Responsive Space problem by launching x y and z in w days"). Any company that solves one of the problems would, in addition to whatever business is inherent in the solution, get a transferable bump to the front of the ITAR review queue. It's an inexpensive way to offer innovation incentives.

Another proposal being discussed is the Health Impact Fund, which is a prize variant that's different from the space prizes we're familiar with in that it's a large, industry-spanning fund that tries to solve the guesswork of valuing an innovation before it's made. The HIF approach is to measure the social benefits of innovations after the fact (the advocates admit this is difficult and prone to political mischief, but contend that the existing systems that would be replaced are far from market-based anyway), and reward innovators that sell the resulting products at production cost (rather than patent monopoly rates) using the fund. The version described is optional (companies could choose to continue using patents), although other, more heavy-handed proposals exist. It tends to work better for neglected diseases (such as those that afflict poor countries) and orphan diseases (those that affect only a small population).

Here's more on the proposal: An Efficient Reward System for Pharmaceutical Innovation.

It's a good idea for the space community to keep an eye on these proposals and actual policies, since they may reveal good ideas and potential pitfalls that could also apply to space industry prizes.

LaserMotive Meet the Team is Back

The Space Elevator Blog tells us that LaserMotive has some new team members, and is getting back to its Meet the Team posts with one about someone who sounds like a hands-on hardware type of person.

Google Ocean?

The Google Earth blog mentions the possibility that Google Earth will get support for ocean mapping: Rumor-mill: Google Ocean in the Works.

Here's the CNet article that explains the possibility: Google diving into 3D mapping of oceans.

I wonder if the possible deep ocean X PRIZE will help in the collection of the types of data that would be useful in Google Ocean?

Team America Rocketry Challenge Finals Next Weekend

The Team America Rocketry Challenge finals are just a few days away - next Saturday at the Great Meadow Outdoor Events Center in The Plains, Virginia. If you're in the region (which many people interested in space are with a large concentration of NASA, NOAA, defense, and commercial sites nearby), it sounds like a fun (and free) way to spend a day while supporting the students from around the country in the event.

In addition to the rockets in the main competition, a National Association of Rocketry high power rocketry demo is planned, and

Throughout the day there will be interactive displays and simulators from NASA and the Department of Defense, as well as booths featuring representatives from several universities and other educational organizations.

See the linked TARC site for details on the schedule, how to get there, and so on.

Here are a few more articles from around the country on local teams. It sounds like a lot of the teams are looking for sponsors to help them with things like travel costs, so see if there's such a team in your area in the top 100.

High school rocket club to compete in national fly-off - Crossville Chronicle (Tennessee)

GHS rocket team taking knowledge to national competition - GoshenNews.com (Indiana)

Springfield students soar to new heights - Akron.com (Ohio)

Trip to NASA gives rocket team a big lift - Mlive.com (Michigan) - This is about a team from last year's TARC that participated in the Student Launch Initiative this year.

Update (May 12): Rocket testing always a blast - Ohio.com

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More About Electric Aircraft Symposium

Not long after posting about the Electric Aircraft Symposium, I ran across an interesting blog post about it: Flying with Pipistrel Taurus. The Pipistrel Viper won last year's Personal Air Vehicle Centennial Challenge. Here's an excerpt:

Hook that system up to a fuel cell or battery charged by wind or solar power, and the filthy personal airplane becomes the greenest form of transportation—maybe even beating any future winner of the $10-million dollar, 100-mile-per-gallon Automotive X-Prize.

Many of those planes have been homebuilt models, part of a phenomenon that took off in the 1970s, when hobbyists began buying kits designed by aviation engineers such as Burt Rutan. In 2004, Rutan’s team won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize for building the first civilian craft to take passengers into space twice within two weeks.

Seeley believes that a cash prize can drive development of clean aircraft just as it did for spacecraft and may soon do for super-efficient automobiles. The challenge is to get a trifecta: 100 miles, at 100 miles per hour and the energy equivalent of 100 miles per gallon of gasoline, in a plane that is not only efficient but also comfortable and easy to operate.

The search is now on for a funder. At the meeting, Seeley and other speakers mentioned Google as a possibility. More than wishful thinking, it was a not-so-subtle hint to the mega-corporation’s co-founder, Larry Page, who sat a few feet from the speaker’s podium. While Page hasn’t pledged any money yet, his interest is strong. “He’s been at every event we’ve had,” said Anne Seeley. (Google has already funded a $30-million Lunar X-Prize for the first team to send a robotic spacecraft to the moon.)

TechX Challenge Update

Here are a few updates from the Singapore Defense Science & Technology Agency's TechX Challenge site:

Photo gallery - includes April 28-29 photos from several teams

The Qualifying Round will be held on May 27 at the Singapore Expo. The Final Event will be held in August.

Qualifying Round Guidelines - updated April 1, includes several tests of the robot, including static inspections, E-stop tests, an obstacle avoidance test, a staircase climbing test, and an elevator operation test.

Beam Power Updates from Space Elevator Blog

The Space Elevator Blog has news from the Kansas City Space Pirates. It includes a look back at the Conan O'Brien show spot, a technical milestone, a visit to the ISDC for sponsors, and an offer of some prize money for sponsors. I'm not sure what kind of contract or legal work they'd need, if any, for such a prize arrangement; hopefully they'll take care of such details.

There's also more SE Blog news on how to get to the Conan interview now that the video has been taken down, correspondence with team E-T-C showing the success of a Japanese translation of a space elevator book, a date change for the 2008 Space Elevator Games, space elevator teams at the ISDC, and a Spaceward mockup of the beam power configuration at the games. From the Spaceward site:

The model includes an 8' x 8' foam board terrain box, a 3' balloon, fishing wire cables, a laser pointer, and a static match-box climber.

Unreasonable Rocket Lessons

RLV News links to the latest from Unreasonable Rocket, which this time features scary details about smoke comping out of the flight computer, and how the culprit was tracked down. There are also more scary details involving peroxide. I don't know enough chemistry or rocketry to say whether or not there was any danger or a step back is needed for safety assessment.

Electric Aircraft Symposium and the General Aviation Green Prize

A couple weeks ago, the CAFE Foundation, organizers of the Personal Air Vehicle/General Aviation Technology Centennial Challenges, held the The 2008 CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium. From the announcement:

The event was well-attended by members of the science and technology media. Updates on the Aviation's Green Prize will be posted soon on the CAFE website. In all, the 2008 EAS made the dream of a 100 MPG PAV look a lot closer than most thought.

Here's a presentation from the Symposium by Brain Seeley on the Green Prize, part of the General Aviation Challenge. They're looking for 100 MPGe for the winner - seems like a popular milestone. That would be quite an efficient transportation mode, especially since planes don't have to go around obstacles like mountains, water, or other roadless terrain.

KITPLANES Magazine has more on the symposium and the General Aviation Technology Challenge.

The Green Prize isn't the only, or even the biggest, part of the GAT Challenge. There are also challenges for low noise, safety, and speed in the context of fuel efficiency, and several smaller "showcase" prizes for things like "best angle of climb". See the rules for more.

Numerous Google Lunar X PRIZE Updates

Here's more from the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams:

Open source team FredNet has posted a couple of videos on YouTube. One is a promotional video, and the other is an orbital dynamics simulation. Hopefully they'll be posting things like this, or links to things like this, on the GLXP Team Announcements ... a good way to take care of the posting obligations.

Speaking of the GLXP Teams page, a couple other teams have updates there:

As they promised a couple days ago, LunaTrex is setting up team profile information. The first update is on Margaret (Margo) Ratcliff, who has a varied educational and professional Mechanical Engineering background.

Quantum 3 has a post on an article in the Bethesda Business Gazette on the team with Maryland ties. In addition to team members, Pat Bahn of TGV Rockets, which does not plan to enter the competition, is also interviewed in the article.

CNN has a feature Just Imagine that looks at what life might be like in 2020. Part of that feature focuses on the Google Lunar X PRIZE. It includes the following:

- a team-oriented photo feature on the Google Lunar X PRIZE (this part is linked at the X PRIZE Foundation news ticker)
- a video of Robert Richards of Odyssey Moon explaining the competition and featuring the team. You get to see some of the student and MDA work and labs
- a text interview and a bio of Robert Richards (for what's next after the GLXP, he says But if somebody was going to offer an X Prize for Mars, I'd be going for that ...)

Friday, May 09, 2008

FredNet Makes Maker Faire; LunaTrex Post

Apparently last weekend Google Lunar X PRIZE team FredNet was at the Bay Area Maker Faire in the hangar with some other space and aviation folks. Surveyor Corporation mentions them, and describes the event a bit:

We spent the day yesterday at Maker Faire, probably the largest DIY techno / craft / electronics gathering of its kind (60,000 projected attendees) anywhere. Lots of robots, a giant mousetrap, steam punk, an electric cupcake parade, r/c battleships battling with BB's, 800kV Van de Graff generator, flamethrowers, 20-ft homemade rockets, etc. Felt just like home ...

Main purpose of attending was to support demos given by Team FREDnet for their Google Lunar X-Prize entry - they had a small swarm of SRV-1 Blackfin robots available for test drives, including a couple of prototypes of a quad-motor version we're developing with Inertia Labs.

Also, the GLXP Teams site has a brief post from LunaTrex letting us know to expect team profiles soon.

Update (Saturday, May 10): There's more on FredNet and LunaTrex (as well as other Lunar X PRIZE teams) in today's GLXP post.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

National Space Society Promotes Centennial Challenges

Recently Space Politics noted that the National Space Society will be testifying before the U.S. Senate in a hearing on "Reauthorizing the Vision for Space Exploration". NASA Watch has more on it, including links to all of the statements by the witnesses, in VSE Hearing.

In his testimony, George Whitesides, representing the National Space Society, promoted NASA's Centennial Challenges space prize program:

  • Centennial Challenges – Congress should reinforce the important role Centennial Challenges can play in developing new technologies and capabilities critical to NASA’s mission, and in creating economic benefit for taxpayers. This is a relatively low-cost, low-risk way for the government to obtain the benefits of new technology, paying only for success.

The promotion continued as follows (this statement encompasses Centennial Challenges and several other approaches for NASA to encourage the private space sector):

All of these activities enable private citizens, especially our young people and students, to learn, develop, and be rewarded for new technologies.

A New Breed

Product Design and Development takes a close look at the Unreasonable Rocket LLC father/son team in A New Breed Headed To The Moon. Sometimes I don't click on the "next" because I think it's for the next article, but in this case do click on it - it's a 2-pager.

RLV News also has the latest Unreasonable Rocket post on "switching from aluminum to paper" for the required FAA experimental rocket permit.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lunar Lander Challenge Somewhere in New Mexico this Fall

RLV News reports some hints about this year's Lunar Lander Challenge, and shows how Unreasonably Strong people get when they eat their spinach.

Long Term Thinking

Peter Diamandis is scheduled for a talk at the Long Now Foundation on September 12. The subject is "Long-term X-Prizes".

Personalized Technology

The X PRIZE Foundation's Tom Vander Ark discusses making a difference to a graduating class, and personalized technology in important areas the Foundation is working on like energy, medicine, education, and exploration:

Over the next few months the X PRIZE team, board, and advisors will be fleshing out the vision and strategy in each of these areas as well as global development and exploration. We’d love to hear from you.

• What’s your vision of a different and better world?
• What kind of breakthroughs will most benefit humanity?
• What areas of research and development are under funded or stuck?

Monday, May 05, 2008


I've mentioned Innocentive a few times on this blog. It's a business that acts as a matchmaker for organizations that have problems, typically of a science or engineering nature, to solve, and people who solve the problems. Each problem comes with a cash prize that's awarded to the problem solver.

The TekScout Open Innovation Network seems to operate on similar principles. It has problem categories like "Life Science, Chemistry, Math and Computer Science, Physical Science, Engineering and Design, and Alternative Energy/Sustainable Products". That's an organization fairly similar to the Innocentive one. It does seem like the prize amounts tend to be relatively high on this one, with prizes over $100,000 being common. They allow a model that sounds a bit like COTS where payments can be made as milestones are reached. It looks like there's flexibility to make arrangements similar to the prize competitions of this blog or closer to more traditional models.

Lunar Concrete

Utah State Today presents the school's Lunar Ventures 2008 team. Their business plan involved

Lunar Concrete, a proposed product that would eliminate the infamous dust hazards on the lunar surface, while dually decreasing the amount of water required for concrete formation on Earth.

GLXP Respect for History

Cumbrian Sky wants to make sure the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams preserve the historical value of sites like Tranquility Base while going for bonus prizes.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Astrobotic Pictures and Unreasonable Jet Vanes

RLV News awaits an announcement on this year's X PRIZE Cup and Lunar Lander Challenge plans ... no word yet, but the wait is not in "vane", as you'll see in the video in this post from Unreasonable Rocket.

Also, the Google Lunar X PRIZE site has 3 more pictures posted from Astrobotic. I'm not going to send you there, but instead to where you'll find yourself if you keep clicking on the pictures: the latest Astrobotic Picasa Web Album. There you'll see the full collection of 14 photos, and be able to get closeups of the pictures more quickly (via photo downloads or slideshows).

Don't neglect the GLXP Teams site version, either - there are comments on those pictures.

See the Swashbuckler "Conan and the Space Pirates"

The Space Elevator Blog has the Conan O'Brien interview of Kansas City Space Pirate Brian Turner, which covered aspects of both power beaming and strong tethers.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Space Ship One book by Dan Linehan

Apparently based on a purchase I made for a space science class on outer planets, Amazon.com thinks I'd be interested in pre-ordering Space Ship One: An Illustrated History. I can't say much about it since I haven't read it, but if you're interested you might want to get to Amazon through one of the other space sites that happens to have an Amazon link.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Innocentive Pavilions

Innocentive has a "Pavilions" prize category that includes the following:

The Rockefeller Foundation:

$20,000: a plant oil stove that doesn't need to be cleaned every couple hours of use
$20,000: solar-powered wireless routers
$20,000: a dry-based biolatrines proposal
$20,000: "Safe and Economical Synthetic Route for PA-824, a candidate drug for tuberculosis"
$40,000: "Reducing Risk of Malaria with Solar Powered Device"

Clean Tech and Renewable Energy:

$30,000: Boston Energy Challenge for proposals for energy-efficient cooling and dehumidifying
$10,000: In Situ Analysis of NO3/NO2
$50,000: Rapid evaluation of nitrosamine content
... etc ... many more

Global Health:

... numerous prizes in the $10,000 - $50,000 range (plus the $1,000,000 ALS Biomarker prize)

In addition to the Pavilions, they also have several prizes for videos and other ideas to market and improve Innocentive itself.

Plus, there are the traditional categories (engineering/design, physical sciences, life sciences, chemistry, math and computer sciences).

I couldn't find a "space" or "aerospace" category, though ...

X PRIZE Cars May Update

Here's the latest from X PRIZE Cars:

Automotive X Prize News - April 21st, 2008 - These weekly news updates usually have a ton of articles; I can only mention a few. First, don't miss the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE site. There are also articles on the EPA possibly mandating car fleets averaging 75 mpg by the 2030's, another Tesla lawsuit (this time directed at the company), and bicycle power in AXP vehicles to give them that extra edge.

Podcast Interview of Jim Stansbury (more here on this letter of intent PAXP team) ... is Sammy Hagar listening?

Automotive X Prize News - April 28th, 2008 - news on CAFE standards, the Cornell team (sponsored by names like Lockheed Martin, Toyota, and GE), a prominent hire for Aptera, and much more

Motive Industries BEHEV - spotlight on this Canadian team

Florida RLV Prize Checkup

I'm not familiar with the process that Florida bills go through, but the Florida Economic Stimulus Bill CS/SB 2310 that includes a "Reusable Space Vehicle Industry Prize Program" seems to be moving along, but note the following in the House of Representatives Staff Analysis:

On Friday April 18, 2008, the Economic Expansion and Infrastructure Council passed a strike-all amendment that did the following:
Reduces the amount of state funds included in the cash prize for the reusable space vehicle industry prize program from $20 million to $2 million, and leaves open the amount of privately secured funds that may be included

I'm not sure if that version is being carried forward or not; there are several versions of the bill posted and I can't tell which is current. It seems like the Senate version may have replace the House one ...? As I said, I'm not sure.

Here's some of the bill history:

05/02/08 S Ordered engrossed, then enrolled
Friday, May 02, 2008 11:34 AM

05/02/08 S CS passed as amended; YEAS 40 NAYS 0
Friday, May 02, 2008 11:34 AM

05/02/08 S Concurred
Friday, May 02, 2008 11:34 AM

04/30/08 S In returning messages
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 7:30 PM

Message sent to senate
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 7:24 PM

Amendment(s) reconsidered, withdrawn
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 5:49 PM

CS passed as amended; YEAS 117, NAYS 1
Wednesday, April 30, 2008 5:49 PM


Thursday, May 01, 2008

DeltaX Tether Team Updates

This post is out of date, but in early March tether team DeltaX mentioned some new carbon nanotube equipment, new members, and a PhD for one of the teammates - in "2D multimode infrared spectroscopy".

TRUMPF Newsletter Article by Brad Edwards

The Space Elevator Blog points out a Brad Edwards article in a TRUMPF Laser newsletter (on page 24) with implications for both laser beam power and strong tethers. The main theme of the article is lasers helping make carbon nanotubes, but there's also a bit about carbon nanotubes returning the favor and making better lasers. Of course the Space Elevator games are featured in the article.

Quick Update on a Quick Update

Unreasonable Rocket gives a quick update.