Monday, June 01, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - June 1, 2009

NSTA Partners with the Conrad Foundation to Promote and Support Annual Education Competition - National Science Teachers Association

Briefs: Augustine panel mtg. date; Protecting historic lunar sites - RLV News - The historical lunar sites theme, discussed in an article from the LA Times, deals with the Google Lunar X PRIZE heritage/historical site bonus prize. Given the potential historical significance of a prize winner itself in continuing the work that Apollo and related efforts started, I think this is taking things way too far:

It is not too late for the sponsors to withdraw their bonus prize for approaching and imaging lunar landing sites. Indeed, they should ban competitors from targeting regions within 100 kilometers of prior lunar landings, with violators excluded from receiving any prize money.

In fact, if such rules were enforced generally (i.e. outside the prize competition) we'd start running out of real estate to land on if we consider newer landers to be historical.

Here's a different attitude: Preserving Tranquility - Seed Magazine page listed on

Not everyone from the Apollo era is convinced the sites should be off-limits. As part of his Apollo 11 moonwalk, Buzz Aldrin deployed a solar-powered seismometer near the spacecraft. “The seismometer experimenter told me, ‘After you deploy the solar panels in the sunlight, don’t walk in front of them, or you might interrupt the flow of electricity and damage things,’” Aldrin recalls. “Well, if you look very carefully in front of those panels, you’ll see some footprints there. I guess I wouldn’t mind too much if somebody went up there to brush those away.”

I can understand the appeal of having a historical site bonus (give the "Moon hoax" conspiracy theorists something upon which to build added convoluted layers of consiracy theory, add to the visual and emotional content for media appeal). However, my favorite sites for lunar landers are the top 2 or 3 candidates for a lunar base rather than previously-visited sites. It would be fun for a team to get there first, and it may also be quite useful for planning purposes to take an up-close-and-personal sneak preview of them.

@glxp - RT @SoldTheMoon: LA Times op-ed ignores that US team will need FAA launch license which reviews whether a mission is in the public interest

The Heritage Bonus (i.e. lunar history preservation) debate is picking up some steam over on our Facebook page:

@Regolith_Chal - Day one of exhibiting at Maker Faire nearly complete. Lots of people excited about NASA prizes and excavators. A creative crowd!

@OmegaEnvoy - Lunar Lander Eggs Prize was a success, thanks #ISDC! Lots of video and pics coming soon. #GLXP

@NebulaAerospace - Type K thermocouple wire arrived today. An important part to measure engine start, and make sure nothing overheats.

OK, game finished If I ever get free time again, I might do another.

@segames - Done with weekly team meeting. Topics of the day were: Laser testing specs, and top-of-climb indicator.

Not going to Maker Faire today, just too much other stuff to do. Sorry, Andy.

Rewriting laser test procedures and re-visiting the rulebook so everything is updated and reflects recent changes (e.g. new helicopter)

@PeterDiamandis - Waking up in Toronto, giving keynote at conference then flying to DC for meetings at NASA HQ later today

@ec_anderson - Very excited for this Thursday the 4th, preparing for press announcement regarding next private orbital space traveler. Stay tuned!

@Bob_Richards - Space Adventures to announce intent to fly 1st Canadian Private Space Explorer Jun 4 [it's not me :)]

@tedprize - Nominations open for 2010 TED Prize. Looking for inventors, entrepreneurs, designers, artists, visionaries, mavericks

@isdc - Last day of ISDC. Travel back safely and see you in Chicago next year!