Thursday, August 28, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

The posting here is getting more and more infrequent and compressed, and our ETA day is, somewhat appropriately, Labor Day, so it will go to ~0.0 at least temporarily some time around then (probably within a week or 2). We will see later, after the family visits settle down and we get used to a new lifestyle, how things go with this blog.

In the meantime, here's something I gathered together from different post comments I've made (especially on Space Politics), notes I've taken, and so on. It's not on space prizes or prizes in general (prizes are mentioned briefly here and there). It's a little bit like a rough draft of a paper or opinion piece, and a little bit like a blog (which I don't, however, intend to maintain as a blog -- it's done). For the paper point of view, you'll want to read bottom-post up (i.e. in chronological order), since I posted it in that order just like a blog, which is the form it's in. Unlike Space Prizes, I left comments on in case anyone wants to, er, comment.

Space Applications - replacing Constellation with a focus on Science, Economics, Security, and other applications

Introduction
Approach and Criteria
Application Areas
Budget Scenarios

NASA Areas
Assessment of Goals
Assessment of Principles
Conclusion

Prize Round-Up for August 28, 2008

RLV News has the latest on a Will Pomerantz interview, LLC team Armadillo and rocket racing, and a test video from LLC team BonNova.

In addition to the above link, the Launch Pad has a number of other recent interesting posts, including 9 Cool Facts About the X PRIZE Foundation and a Lunar Commercial Communications workshop. See the site for the rest; there's quite a bit there.

I've mentioned the idea of "Mega-Prizes" here (just use the "search blog" tool in the upper left with that term). The latest X PRIZE Foundation email newsletter update notes that

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, CEO and Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, will be talking about the idea of Mega X PRIZEs as part of the Long Now Foundation’s monthly series Seminars About Long Term Thinking. The seminar will take place on Friday, September 12 at 7:30pm, at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, with a $10 suggested donation. For more information, you can get in touch with Danielle Engelman at danielle@longnow.org.

The newsletter also covers the Lunar Lander Challenge Summit, 100+ Automotive X PRIZE Teams, a National Human Genome Research Grant for an Archon Genomics X PRIZE team, and the WhiteKnightTwo rollout.

June Panoramio Google Earth Winners

The Google Earth Blog links to the June Panoramio winners.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Over 120 AXP Letter of Intent Teams

The Ultimate Fuel Economy Challenge: 100 + Hopefuls Intend to Compete for $10 Million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE - X PRIZE Foundation press release:

To date, more than 120 teams, from 28 states and 17 countries, intend to compete for their share of a $10 million prize purse

...

Recent signers of a letter of intent to compete include India’s Tata Motors, Maxi-Eco of Brazil, Drexell University, 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.

Masten AST Regulations and Interns Update

RLV News catches the latest Masten Space Systems update. They note that they're not one of the "secret" Lunar Lander Challenge teams ... this year.

BarCamp Atlanta2 - PeachSeedz - BarCamp is an ad-hoc unconference born from the desire for people to learn and share in an open environment. ... This year Michael Mealing of Masten Space Systems (rockets not real estate) is leading the effort.

Live Underwater Video Streaming

TodoCast™ Brings Live Webcasting of Underwater Videography to 11th Annual Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition - ToDoCast press release:

TodoCast™, the innovator of the world's first affordable, portable, live satellite-to-web video streaming system, today announced the success of live underwater video streaming at this year's 11th Annual International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition held earlier this month. ...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Space X PRIZEs Roundup - August 25, 2008

Here's a Lunar Lander Challenge conference idea from Team Phoenicia.

RLV News gets an LLC update from a different team, Unreasonable Rocket: Static Test Today (a pretty good sounding post) and More Random Thoughts.

Google Earth Blog posts on the XPF GLXP KML files, as well as a number of other interesting Google Earth updates. I'm not sure if they noticed the LLC KML file.

NASA JSC Next 50 Years Speaker Series: Peter Diamandis - American Astronautical Society Note: the lecture is today, and is for "JSC-badged personnel" only.

The Launch Pad has several updates. One is a roundup (can you link to a roundup in a roundup post?).

Another is a question on Who Owns the Moon?. That post says The Outer Space Treaty decrees that the moon and other celestial bodies are the property of all mankind, but that doesn't allow for anything useful to happen. My understanding of the OST is different; I think you are allowed to do useful things on the Moon and other bodies. You're also allowed to own useful things you do on the Moon. For example, if you mine part of the Moon, the product is yours, and you can keep it, or sell it ... you don't have to share it with "all mankind". That's not to say the OST couldn't be improved in the area of property rights, but you can already do business there.

The last Launch Pad post covers the DC-X Reunion, including some discussions related to prizes. I have to say that if NASA Administrator Griffin likes prizes, he should make a much bigger point of talking up Centennial Challenges in Congressional hearings, lectures (and not just to the DC-X type of audience), documents, and so on.

Mars Society TEMPO3 Project

RLV News posts on a number of things in the linked post, including a Space Review article on the winner of the Mars Project Challenge. Here's an excerpt on the TEMPO3 CubeSat satellite project:

Best of all, the project is within budgetary reach: with an estimated total project cost of $250,000–500,000, raising the cash to do the mission will be challenging, but perfectly achievable.

...

gravity generation will be done by spinning the main satellite along with a tethered counterweight, a project that aligns nicely with what you’d expect on an actual Mars mission, where you could use a spent booster stage as the counterweight.

Information Week also has a brief article on the winning project.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

USST Pictures

News from USST - Space Elevator Blog - The team offers some photos.

GLXP and LLC Lunar Roundup - August 23, 2008

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Meeting a Success - Lunar Networks (a supporter of GLXP Team STELLAR) - From the linked X PRIZE Foundation press release:

“We’re looking for a major test program in New Mexico starting in 2010,” said Neil Milburn, Vice President of Armadillo Aerospace. “Probably as many as 100 flights, most of them sub-orbital space before that year is over.”

“Brandon and I went to Los Alamos High School together,” said William Baird, leader of Team Phoenicia. “Having lived here for so long, and coming back, it’s just the perfect time. And if the Spaceport opens up, and we have enough backers, maybe we’ll consider something back here!”


Will Pomerantz on Spacevidcast - The Launch Pad

And the Winner Is... - Space Disco (Dave Mosher - Discovery Space) - One of the competitors in the GLXP T-shirt contest speaks up, shows his entry, and links to an XPF slide show of all entries.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lunar Lander and Lunar X PRIZE Roundup - August 21, 2008

The FAA's Vision for Spaceflight - Cosmic Log - George Neild is interviewed, and the GLXP is the subject of one of the questions.

More on Regulation - The Launch Pad - Alan Boyle's interview is discussed (and the GLXP section is included). The NOAA regulations affecting the GLXP are also considered.

Stakeholder Survey - The Launch Pad - Will gives some background on the survey I recently posted about.

Team Stellar featured in Raleigh News & Observer - The Launch Pad - This mentions the STELLAR meeting.

Here's another local article on the meeting: Raleigh's Team Stellar works toward prize - Technician Online (NC State student paper). An excerpt:

There's only one snag in the project: funding. Team Stellar still needs to raise $200,000 -- counting money, sponsorship and in-kind donations -- to keep the project going, according to Dick Dell, a member of the team and executive director of the Advanced Vehicle Research Center.

A lot more is needed in the long run to finish. I think the article has a mistake about using the Shuttle, though ...

Armadillo Aerospace update - RLV News

You can hear more about Armadillo, as well as TrueZero and the LLC, at the recent multi-guest Space Show interview (kind of in reverse order of how I listed them here).

Long Prize List

Idea, Innovation and Invention Contests - Idea Connection - This is a big list of competitions in a variety of fields. Most of them are innovation contests in one way or another. Architecture and related fields are heavily represented. A lot of other areas are included, too.

A few sample subjects: web design, water use, United Nations goals, prison design, bathroom and kitchen innovation, "liquid landscapes", Intellivision programming, global warming, digital imaging, sustainable cities, various art fields, furniture, "mobile floating architecture", intelligent transportation, fire science, and designing planned museums and libraries.

Regolith Challenge Transportation Problem

Reliable transportation to the site seems to be a common problem with these competitions: Lunar Excavator - Carlitos' Contraptions

From other posts it looks like Carlitos has a lot of hands-on types of engineering fix-it-up projects going on ... and he's graduated and looking for a job ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Space Prize Roundup - August 20, 2008

Flight Safety Zones - Team Phoenicia continues the safety-related posts

ISU Student Survey Request: Google Lunar X-prize - Spaceref

Don’t miss the SEARS Sept 6th Launch - Southeast Alabama Rocketry Society - They have their own launch with a prize pool, and they also promote the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

Energy and Environment Prize Roundup - August 20, 2008

Cornell to Show Off its 100-mpg Car-in-progress at New York State Fair - YubaNet.com - link from X PRIZE Foundation news scroller

Automotive X Prize News: August 17th, 2008 - X PRIZE Cars blog - The news includes another EVCast (electric vehicles) podcast, the Chevy Volt, Superlattice Power planning to join the competition (they claim to have a space flight application, too), a potential Kentucky Zap electric car factory, Loremo being nominated for the Clean Tech Media Award, a possible Tesla manufacturing site for a 4-door sedan, and more.

Seven Win Goldman Environmental Prize - Voice of America

X PRIZE Foundation to Present Energy and Environment Thought Leaders at MIT - X PRIZE Foundation press release:

Forum will feature alternative energy ideas from biologist George Church, futurist Ray Kurzweil and inventor Saul Griffith ... a forum titled, “Seeking Radical Breakthroughs in Alternative Energy – What I Would Advise the Next President.” ... Video of the event will be packaged and distributed to both presidential campaigns and will be available on the X PRIZE YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/xprize). The X PRIZE Foundation will also announce a new partner in the energy and environment sector.

So, any guesses as to who the new XPF partner is?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quick Multi-Day Roundup

I don't have much time to post now, but I'll note that RLV News has been keeping up with numerous stories and updates on the Lunar Lander Challenge (Unreasonable Rocket, Phoenicia, TrueZer0, Armadillo, and the official opening of registration), Google Lunar X PRIZE (Quantum3 withdraws), and the Mars Society's Mars Project Challenge where 10 ideas from Mars Society members were voted on to determine the Mars Society's next big project. I'm not going to give you all of the links; you'll find them in the August 17-19 RLV News posts.

Phoenicia has continued a steady stream of updates. One of their recent posts is on safety analysis presented today and tomorrow at the LLC Team Summit for Holloman AFB and FAA. The Launch Pad says most of the X PRIZE Foundation space people are at the Summit.

Today's scheduled Space Show features the Lunar Lander Challenge: Guests will include Will Pomerantz of the X-Prize Organization, Scott Zeeb and Todd Squires from TrueZer0, and Neil Milburn from Armadillo

Friday's show will also be on a space prize: The Friday, August 22, 2008, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific program welcomes Jim Greenhaw to the show. Jim is the team captain of the Tech Ranch Lunar Regolith Challenge Team.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Updated Obama Space Policy (Including Space Prizes)

Presidential candidate Obama has updated his space policy proposals:

Obama Position Paper on Space Exploration - NASA Watch

Change! - Transterrestrial Musings

Obama commits to moon mission, additional shuttle flight - Orlando Sentinel.com

PDF of policy at Orlando Sentinel

This document is the first one I've seen (from any Presidential candidate) that specifically promotes space prizes. Here are the 2 excerpts:

Jumpstarting Consumer Technology: Obama will expand the use of prizes for revolutionary technical achievements that can benefit society, and funds for joint industry/government rapid-to-the-consumer technology advances.

Establishing Teacher/Researcher Fund for High Schools: Barack Obama will support nontraditional approaches, such as student design competitions and internet-based collaborations to engage students and develop the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

GLXP Space VidCast Coming Soon

William Pomerantz joining us Live on Episode #020 - Space Vidcast.com. See the link for times.

The Launch Pad also has a post on it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Open Source Student Geoinformatics Prize

Here's the 52°North Student Innovation Prize for Geoinformatics call for entries:

The aim of this innovation prize is to encourage students to make a contribution to the development and practical realization of innovative concepts in the field of geoinformatics. The competition is directed primarily at students of geoinformatics, computer science, business informatics and media informatics.

...

The innovation prize is being awarded by 52°North GmbH, con terra GmbH, ESRI Geoinformatik GmbH, the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC in Enschede) and the Institute for Geoinformatics at the University of M√ľnster.

ITC - International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation - The knowledge field of ITC is geo-information science and earth observation, which consists of a combination of tools and methods for the collection - through aerospace survey techniques -, storage and processing of geo-spatial data, for the dissemination and use of these data and of services based on these data.

ESRI - Environment Systems Research Institute - This is a major geographical information systems (GIS) company. Their mapping software often uses satellite data. It can also be used in planetary science applications.

Lori Garver on Obama and Space Prizes

Initial thoughts from the Mars Society debate - Space Politics - Prizes are briefly mentioned in the debate.

The Latest On The Space Debate - Transterrestrial Musings

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Regolith Challenge on Planetary Society Radio Show

Like last year, the Planetary Radio show from the Planetary Society covers the Regolith Excavation Challenge. That part of the show is in the middle of the broadcast, but the beginning is on another Lunar topic, so there's no need to skip ahead.

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup

As usual, posting continues at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site. My available posting time is decreasing (Lamaze class, setting up rooms, reading Dad-in-training books, going on daily walks, thinking of interesting and reachable places to take those daily walks like yesterday's zoo walk, etc), so while I still have time to post a bit for now, for the most part I'll count on Space Prize readers going to "every day" sites like that rather than being reminded here.

Oshkosh Photo Album - Rich from Frednet

Moon Launch Team Will Host Open House - The Raleigh Telegram - STELLAR looks for new recruits, especially on Tuesday, August 19 at NCSU (see the article for exact location and other details)

Volunteers needed for moon quest - The News Observer - more press on the STELLAR meeting

Freedom Prize

I learned about the Freedom Prize from Innovation Prize Central, which I just posted on. I thought I'd make a separate post for this prize. Here's a summary from the site:

The Freedom Prizes will address the challenge of oil dependence using American ingenuity and the spirit of competition. We will be awarding over $4 Million in Freedom Prizes to inspire Industry, Schools, Government, Military, and Communities to significantly reduce their use of oil, thereby promoting America’s national security, economic prosperity and health.

The prizes are still in development. The money is from Congress, but I'm not sure if it's authorized or actually appropriated. It at least seems like they have the funds. It will be interesting to see what the detailed rules are for this kind of "deployment" prize.

Breaking Free from Oil - Renewable Energy World.com - Jack D. Hidary - This article on the prizes mentions the Ansari X PRIZE with one of its results - Virgin Galactic:

Once Rutan won the space prize, the X Prize foundation and my foundation, the Hidary Foundation, provided the seed funding to kick off the work of the Automotive X Prize and over a 3-year period the X Prize team developed a comprehensive set of metrics and goals for the next inducement prize: a 100 mpg or equivalent vehicle.

...

While the Automotive X Prize addresses one part of the breakthroughs needed to reduce our dependence on oil and would change the auto industry in 5-7 years, there are now many off-the-shelf technologies that could be deployed in just one year to reduce our petro-dependence.
...

Freedom Prize disbursements are scheduled to begin in 2009 and candidates will be able to apply at www.freedomprize.org.

Freedom Prize Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy Announce Awards to Lessen America’s Oil Dependence - Business Wire - The Freedom Prize Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today unveiled the Freedom Prize, the first competition of its kind that will direct more than $4 million to reward and encourage efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and enhance the nation’s security, economic prosperity and health. ...

Freedom Prize takes off - CleanTech - "People are talking and talking about oil prices. This is money that's fully funded today. This is not just talk, it's now an actual program," said Becker.

Innovation Prize Central

Innovation Prize Central - Here's the beginning of their introduction:

IPC is a new destination that will serve as a clearinghouse for all info related to innovation prizes.

The Innovation Prize Central Blog has covered a number of prizes, including some that I haven't run across before.

It looks like the site and blog are associated with the Hidary Foundation. As an example of Hidary Foundation support, Philanthropy Roundtable has a slide presentation on the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE that lists the Foundation as one of the Donors.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

General Aviation Challenge Results

The 2008 General Aviation Challenge has completed, and here are the results:

Baby steps for NASA's small-plane challenge - Cnet News - This includes a slide show with detailed comments for each slide. From the overview:

NASA sponsored its second annual General Aviation Challenge (GAC) last weekend, when it awarded only about a third of its total $300,000 in prize money to contestants with advances in flight technology. ... NASA plans to retool its contest next year to focus primarily on fuel-efficient aviation, according to Andy Petro, head of NASA's Centennial Challenges, a series of government-sponsored competitions that support space exploration and aviation technologies in private industry.

Team Lambada - a UFM-13 Lambada motor glider sport plane, won $33,000 in NASA's challenge for quietest plane. ... Bob Johnson, the Carson, Nev.-based owner of Lambada, said he found out about the race early this summer, so he didn't have much time to prepare.

The Pipistrel Virus won $50,000 for aircraft safety with measures like a deployable rocket that would launch a parachute 100 feet above the plane in the event of an emergency.

Pipistrel also won some money for the Noise Prize, but noone won money for the fuel efficiency Green Prize. One contender with strength in that area withdrew because of mechanical problems.

Novel planes lift off in NASA tech challenge - Press Democrat - From the article:

Next year, Seeley is hoping for a jump in participants and public interest with a possible 100 mpg competition as part of the overall challenge.

NASA Spends $25M On Unmanned Planes, Awards Aviation Prizes - Slashdot

Update (August 12 evening): Space for All notes that there's also a NASA press release on the results.

Monday, August 11, 2008

August 11, 2008 Roundup

Spider Robinson and Ben Bova win the Heinlein Award - BoingBoing

Lunar Lander team Phoenicia has been blogging quite a bit:

The Wind at Dawn Flight Simulations
A Bit of Progress and Some Quick Thank You's
The Wind at Dawn Drawing
A Little More of The Wind at Dawn
Monday Update

Tohoku University Space Robotic Lab to Develop GLXP Rover - White Label Space

Gingrich’s billion-dollar space prizes - Space Politics - Newt Gingrich responds to the Wall Street Journal call for ideas on how to better the world with $10B: Prizes to Improve Life. His suggestions are all prizes, including some space ones. The details are different, but they're similar to the ones I linked to yesterday. Personally, I'd have to lean more towards smaller, but more numerous (or repeating with a raised bar), prizes similar to the ones the X PRIZE Foundation and others offer now.

McCain’s more detailed space policy - Space Politics - This covers an update to John McCain's formerly brief space policy statement. It's now somewhat more detailed (if still vague on certain specifics about what he'd do if elected). As Al Fansome mentions in the comments, it does mention commercial space and the Google Lunar X PRIZE:

Activity within the commercial sector continues to increase beyond the traditional role of launching satellites. In 2007, the X-Prize Foundation announced a prize of $30 million in a global competition to build the first robotic rover capable of landing on the Moon. Several companies are planning to develop and build spacecraft for space tourism.

It's a generally positive-sounding statement, but it doesn't say what he'd do with commercial space, except as it pertains to the International Space Station. Would he emphasize Centennial Challenge prizes? Space agency use of commercial space services like GLXP-inspired lunar missions, reusable suborbital rockets, crew space transportation services, or commercial space station modules? Would he try to streamline regulations that hamper commercial space? It's hard to tell.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Discworld Fan N-Prize Team

Briefs: Another N Prize team; Surrey Sat sets up in US - RLV News mentions the newest N-Prize team: Potent Voyager. I hope they don't lose all of their leisure reading time working on the prize.

What Would You Do With $10B?

There's a conservative innovation prize fan in Arizona with some ideas.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Diverse Autonomous Robot Student Competitions

I mentioned the AUVSI International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition at the bottom of this post a couple weeks ago. To follow up:

Scientific hopefuls dive headfirst into challenge - Gizmos duel in underwater robotics bout - Peninsula Beacon News - This covers the Underwater competition, and mentions the surface competition that should be being held now (Aug 7 - 9) at the same location this year.

Here's a press release on the winner of the competition, the University of Maryland. Now they're getting ready for the Autonomous Robot Speedway a bit closer to home (at the College Park campus). It sounds like they must have had a lot of fault tolerance with the various challenges they overcame.

They used the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility (NBRF) and the University Space Systems Lab during their testing.

Here's the Robotics at Maryland winning team site. It includes lots of posts (including some from the competition), pictures, and videos.

The press release also mentions another UMD win: Project TURTLE Wins NASA Competition - From the PR:

A team of aerospace engineering students won first place in the undergraduate division of NASA's Revolutionary Advanced Systems Concepts - Academic Liaison (RASC-AL) student design competition in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Project TURTLE (Terrapin Undergraduate Rover for Terrestrial Lunar Exploration).

Flying Cars, Electric Cars, and Electric Flying Cars

Why flying cars are better than electric ones - The Register - This covers personal air vehicles and the General Aviation Challenge.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Local Lunar Landers

Denver Team Aims For Lunar Landing - Tech Rockies on Paragon (Lunar Lander Challenge)

Texas Team To Compete In Lunar Landing Competition - Texas Tech Pulse on Armadillo (Lunar Lander Challenge)

Cash award still elusive for AG man - Times Press Recorder on Tech Ranch (Regolith Challenge)

Here's more on the LLC:

Guest post from Will Baird - James Nicoll Live Journal - featuring one of the new LLC teams

More Google Earth and Prizes: Lunar Lander Challenge and SketchUp Campus

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge in Google Earth - In keeping with the Google Earth theme, the Launch Pad is making a KMZ Google Earth file for the Lunar Lander Challenge. I assume it's similar to the one they did for the Google Lunar X PRIZE. I'm not sure because I get a link to an Unreasonable Rocket image, not a KMZ file.

Anyway, here's another Google Earth competition I found. The 2008 version is over, but maybe there will be one in 2009. It's a competition for the best SketchUp Google Earth campus model: 2008 International Model Your Campus Competition! It's fun to find a campus you've been to and fly around. Not satisfied with the satellite or aerial images, one team took their own balloon-based images.

Google Earth Prizes

Prompted by some of my last post, which dealt a bit with Google Earth, I was catching up on the Google Earth Blog. A lot of the space prizes I post on here deal with space access, smallsats and other small space systems, and brand new types of space infrastructure (power beaming, etc). These are all important trends that need to be pushed ahead to open up space. However, one of the areas I find the most interesting is space applications where the ground portion is accessible to almost everyone. This includes areas like astronomy, GPS where the government satellite signals are usable on the ground for numerous applications, and applications that use satellite data that everyone with an Internet connection can manipulate with applications like GIS, image processing, science visualization or data analysis tools, or whatever tools are appropriate. Google Earth is such an application.

I saw a couple contests on the GE Blog that as far as I'm concerned are space contests just as much as any of the others. They might not necessarily involve lots of engineering, depending on the contestants' frame of mind, but they can help get non-space people 1 step closer to an interest in space:

The Chemical Brothers launch Google Earth video project - NME News - The Chemical Brothers have a themed music video/photo contest for an upcoming music video. The imagery is to be spatially tagged to the location where it was taken using Google Earth. It sounds like some of it will be put in their video, and all of it will be put in a Google Earth layer.

Panoramio is an application, now part of Google, that lets you add images to Google Earth layers. Every month they've been having a contest to select the best photos that have been uploaded to Google Earth in several categories (scenery, heritage, travel, and unusual locations). Here are the March, April, and May winners. Check them out, and see where they are in Google Earth or Google Maps. Also see the Panoramio Blog.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

August 6 2008 Roundup

Space Show at Regolith Excavation Challenge - The Space Show - The actual interviews, and there are several this time, cover lots of topics besides the Regolith Challenge, including (in this order) various California Space Authority (Regolith Challenge organizer) work, the Commercial Space Wiki that Ken Davidian started, and leading Regolith Challenge team Technology Ranch. The guests are Jim Buenrostro (Technology Ranch), Ken Davidian (NASA ESMD Commercial Space Policy, and formerly Centennial Challenges), Janice Dunn, Matt Everingham, and Andrea Seastrand (all California Space Authority).

Hovering reliably is tough - RLV News - This links to a NASA Spaceflight discussion on the number of Lunar Lander Challenge teams that will actually show up, the difficulty of the Challenge (from Jon Goff from Masten Space Systems), and some possible quirks, or at least common patterns, in the nature of space prizes in general.

Prize Power: How Competition Inspires Tech Innovation - Linux Insider - This discusses the X PRIZE Foundation and Innocentive. The Innocentive example is one for cleaning up the Exxon Valdez oil spill when the oil is frozen in the water. The idea that's about to be implemented came from an Innocentive prize after years of in-house experimentation.

Advice For Google's VC Arm: Don't Be Boring- Tech Dirt - From the article: Google's opportunity to do something different could have other possibilities as well. Google already sponsors the Lunar X Prize, and it could create its own series of challenges that might benefit Google's existing businesses (similar to the Netflix Prize).

Google has even done this with the Android Developer Challenge. This is why I was surprised (not disappointed, just surprised) that the Google Lunar X PRIZE turned out to be a lunar surface prize. I was pretty sure they were the sponsor, but I thought they'd come up with a prize that more readily lent itself to Google Earth, like a prize for gathering data for new Google Earth (Google Moon) layers, which would probably require a lunar orbiter. However, The Launch Pad shows that there are ways to integrate the real Google Lunar X PRIZE with Google Earth. You can see all of the teams and partner organizations in this Google Earth layer. It sounds like the XPF folks have more ideas along these lines.

Check out GLXP Fun Stuff for more Google Earth fun, and perhaps let them know if you have more ideas like this (or you've built something like this of your own with an XPF tie-in).

Phoen-etic Blog - The Launch Pad - The blog for one of the newly announced Lunar Lander Challenge teams (and Google Lunar X PRIZE hopeful team) is presented. They're hoping to have daily updates.

Team Phoenicia - This is their website (also see the LLC Teams page). You can see a strong New Mexico State University contingent on the team.

Insanely Busy! - The Dragon's Tales - This includes some Team Phoenicia posts and lots of other material - prehistoric creatures and environments, etc.

Google Lunar X PRIZE T-Shirt Design Competition - The Launch Pad - Here's the competition page.

Keeping tabs on a potential new team - The Launch Pad - This is on the Space Florida/Omega Envoy effort to make a Florida Google Lunar X PRIZE team. It includes a slide show.

Are all of the videos in the SFF $2000 Space Video Contest posted at the linked site? I'm not sure if that's the case, but I only see 3 so far at that link, and there are 3 prizes ($2000, $1000, and $500) ...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ten Lunar Lander Challenge Teams

Ten teams in Northrop Grumman - Lunar Lander Challenge - RLV News - Four of the teams want to remain anonymous. Five are from last year, and five are new. Of the six identified teams, I recognized 4 from last year, which I guess means 1 from last year wants to remain anonymous.

Jon Goff from Masten Space Systems has an important question in the comments.

I'll try to get the new teams on the LLC side bar section, which is now a mixture of teams from different years (but so is my Space Elevator Games section).

X PRIZE Foundation Announces Ten Teams Vying for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge - X PRIZE Foundation press release

The XPF LLC site lets you Match Up the teams, and has a section describing each public team.

10 teams vie for mock moon landing prize - MSNBC

Next try for $2 million lunar-landing challenge - CNet News.com

Here are a couple related links:

Spacex and Hardware is hard. - Unreasonable Rocket - LLC comments about the Falcon 1 loss, and has some lessons for anyone getting into hardware.

Without Poetry, It's All Hardware - Space for All - This is on Vanna Bonta winning the Space Frontier Foundation's 2008 "Service to the Frontier" award.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Launch Pad Videos and FAA News

FAA says tethered operations require authorization [Update] - RLV News - This, of course, affects teams going for the Lunar Lander Challenge. There's a link to a Launch Pad post that gives some more detail on how this is being handled.

Briefs: Launch Pad roundup; More WK2 postings - RLV News - The Launch Pad Oshkosh pictures and videos are pretty cool, if I may say so.

V PRIZE?

I noticed that the V Prize link isn't working, and I also couldn't track down the V Prize blog. I also don't see any links for it anymore at Spaceports. Is the V Prize effort done? I don't know.

A prize like that is pretty difficult to arrange. Hopefully if that proves too difficult, a less ambitous, more easily funded prize that promotes the MARS and Virginia space commerce can be pulled off. I can picture all sorts of ideas like that. Off the top of my head: a prize for the first reusable suborbital vehicle to perform science or engineering task xyz 5 times from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. That would promote the types of skills that could some day, in a later general of vehicle, result in point-to-point suborbital trips, while at the same time giving incentives to develop such capabilities at the MARS. The difficulty of the task could be calibrated to the funding available.

Mprize Science Board

The Mprize Scientific Advisory Board - Methuselah Foundation Blog

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Automotive X PRIZE Route, Politics, and Tesla Accident

Barack Obama targets 1 million PHEVs by 2015 - X PRIZE Cars speculates on the effect Obama's energy plan would have on the Automotive X PRIZE Teams, and enjoys watching the 2 main Presidential candidates battle it out to see who is the most fuel efficiency-supporting candidate.

There's also a recent post about the Goodwin-Young: Linc-Volt (as in Neil Young), Automotive X PRIZE entry and a news roundup with lots of articles about the first Tesla crash (ALREADY?!?), registration being officially open for the PAXP, and more. One article mentions possible locations for parts of the race:

The race probably will pass through Ohio and Michigan on at least one leg, Ms. Fox said. "There are a number of cities in Ohio [and Michigan] that are interested. We'll probably announce those cities this fall," she said.

The foundation is in discussions with Indianapolis about holding a leg of the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where entrants could display their top speeds.

Ben Bova Interview

Mars attracts sci-fi author Ben Bova - Rocky Mountain News - The Science Fiction author is interviewed shortly before being awarded (with Spider Robinson) the Robert A. Heinlein Award (the one for Science Fiction, not the National Space Society award or the Heinlein Prize for commercial space achievements) at Denvention 3. This is where the 66th World Science Fiction Convention will be held - which means it includes the Hugo Awards and John W. Campbell Awards, too.

Regolith Challenge T+2 Days

Here's more Regolith Excavation Challenge coverage:

T+2 Days... The 2008 Challenge is Over - Tech Ranch - This post covers how the day went for the top-ranked team - I think still a 1-person team - for 2 years in a row. It also shows a lot of Tech Ranch Tornado photos, and identifies the team's supporters and sponsors.

Moon vehicle competition at Cal Poly draws local teams - San Luis Obispo.com - This short article mentions local teams Tech Ranch and SLObotics (SLObotics photo included).

Robots On A Fake Moon - Darren - This gives the account of a spectator at the event who was there to support a relative. It includes a Flickr photoset and a couple videos.

A Day of Loose [sic] - The Good Word - Justin Park gives a discouraged account of the day, including the Falcon 1 launch attempt and the Regolith Challenge, which he attended. Personally, I'm not nearly as discouraged with the the lack of winners in this challenge. It's not easy, and the rules were completely changed this year (eg: rovers, obstacles), so it's essentially a new challenge. The teams didn't have much time to get ready, and there are always surprises with rule interpretations and so on at the first event.

The fact that there have been so few winners so far in the Centennial Challenges with so many teams and attempts just shows that the Challenges seem to have been set at roughly the right level of difficulty. It's a good investment by NASA. It would be interesting to have a few mini-prizes at these events for partial success to keep the teams going, though ...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Regolith Excavation Challenge Results

Prize Remains Elusive - Matt at the California Space Authority. The year's competition is over, but demos (valuable testing for next year!) continue. This post gives the following links:

Some Pictures from Saturday Morning

Some Pictures from Saturday Afternoon

You'll see people like NASA Centennial Challenge's Andrew Petro and The Space Show's David Livingston (expect a Regolith Space Show episode soon) in the pictures.

NASA Prize Elusive as Moon Excavators Struggle in Sandbox - press release:

Eight teams competing in the 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge came up short in winning the NASA purse of $750,000, but more determined to compete in a rematch for 2009. ...

Twenty-five teams registered for the challenge. Sixteen teams traveled to San Luis Obispo to compete with half that number withdrawing due to last-minute mechanical and logistical problems. The final teams to compete were:


Waldbaum, Sunnyvale, CA
Next Step, Houston, TX
Tech Ranch, Arroyo Grande, CA
LuneOreDiggers, Denver, CO
Cal Poly Slobotics, San Luis Obispo, CA
Team of One, Detroit, MI
Toy Garden, Friday Harbor, WA
Boppers, Huntington Beach, CA


Here's more:

Regolith Excavation Challenge update - RLV News - This includes several articles (the KSBY 6 one also has a video with interviews and excavator shots) and a link to the Regolith Challenge Twitter feed that lets you follow the event.

There's also a NASAPrize Twitter feed - NASA Centennial Challenges. It looks like it started in recent weeks, and it's covering the Regolith event. This gives a webcam link for the event. It looks like this feed will be used for other Centennial Challenges events.

IPP's Doug Comstock also has twitter posts on the Challenge, as well as other interesting activities. He gives an idea how the rankings went: No cash, but judges trophies to third place Team Walbaum, second to Cal Poly SLObotic, and first to Tech Ranch. Congrats!!

From LunOreDiggers:

Competition Day - a picture of the entry

Fail Sauce - details on their part of the event, and initial analysis of what went wrong

Astrobotic and a Different Type of Regolith Excavation Challenge

Astrobotic awarded Regolith-Moving Contract - Astrobotic - From the linked page:

Each organization will conduct a 180-day study focused on a topic relevant to lunar surface systems. Selected organizations and topics are:

... Regolith Moving Methods: Astrobotic Technology Inc. of Pittsburgh and Honeybee Robotics of New York, ...

Astrobotic has a couple more interesting video posts on the teams page: Beating the Heat and Resolution and Color.

There's also news from the Falcon 1 launch, which I tried to watch but didn't catch:

Falcon 1 from Space X lifted off; reported "anomaly" at T+2 minutes - LunaTrex. This is of special interest to some GLXP teams because of the "preferred launch provider" GLXP deal. The Launch Pad links to video from the attempt at On Orbit. RLV News has a number of August 2 posts on it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Regolith Challenge Event and Teams Ready

Preparations Complete - Matt's Blog at the California Space Authority - The Regolith Excavation Challenge is ready to go:

Several of the excavators were revealed today, making for a nice team check-in and reception. We got to quiz some of the teams about their designs and all of the staff and judges are excited to see them operating over the next couple of days. Some of the teams will continue working on their excavators until the final deadline at 7:00 AM, when they have to turn them over for judge inspection. ... The excavation hardware will be on static display throughout the event for spectators to view.

Audreyln briefly mentions one of the teams in the Regolith Challenge, which lets me know about the latest post or two from LunOreDiggers. You can see a picture of their excavator in the 2nd post; click away and you can zoom in on it in Flickr.

The teams are still commenting about significant events in their efforts at that TechRanch post.

I don't recall a Boppers team link before. It takes you to a YouTube page with lots of newly loaded videos. Their entry is called LunarBopper1, and you get a lot of looks at it, the team members, and the workshop in the videos. The "Boppers Video Submission" one is particularly instructive in showing how it works.

Lunar Lander Safety Software

Unreasonable Rocket posts on safety software. The 2nd diagram appears a bit out of place on my browser, but if that happens for you I think you'll find where it belongs.

Friday, August 01, 2008

August 1 2008 Roundup

Interview: Bob Richards and James Antifaev of Odyssey Moon - The Launch Pad - This interview covers the multinational Odyssey Moon GLXP team, Canada's growing space capabilities, and the MDA-ATK sale attempt.

Oshkosh Bloggin' - The Launch Pad - William is there for some GLXP panels, and is also posting a lot of photos from the show, some by the SpaceShipOne replica (check the main Launch Pad page to see the latest).

Briefs: WK2 debut audio; GLXP at Oshkosh; Space shoe spinoff - RLV News covers the Launch Pad activity, as well as an 8th Continent post about one of their space/Earth business plan winners, iShoe.

Rocket Racing demo flight 2 - RLV News

French space tourism contest - RLV News - This covers the winning of the Rocketplane/Nestle suborbital ride contest I mentioned a bit after Space Access '08. The OK article makes it sound like the promotion was a success in terms of driving business. One of the linked posts discusses the legal responsibilities of the spaceflight participant and the ride company using Willy Wonka as an appropriate analogy.

Participatory Innovation Using Prizes

Participatory Innovation - Enterprise Resilience Management Blog - Here's another discussion of the New York Times article If You Have a Problem, Ask Everyone .

The post also links to a couple earlier (2007) ones on prizes:

A New Approach to Innovation

More Prizes for Innovation

Innocentive and the X PRIZE Foundation are featured heavily in these articles.

Rocket Racing Continues

Rocket Racing League finally gets off the ground - Heath Haussamen on New Mexico Politics - The RRL Oshkosh exhibit is discussed from a New Mexican perspective:

The company hasn’t been able to recruit teams as easily as it originally anticipated and has had funding delays. But it broke ground on its first hangars at the Las Cruces airport in January and has recruited several teams to participate. It plans to make Las Cruces its worldwide headquarters.

More Rocket Racer demo response - RLV News - Several articles are posted (I'm a couple days behind on this one).

Rocket Racer Photos - Samizdata.net