Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 TED Prize Winners and Event

Meet the 2009 TED Prize winners - Two of the three winners fit with the space and related themes usually covered in this blog. They include Sylvia Earle (oceanographer and explorer, former Chief Scientist of NOAA) and Jill Tarter (Director of the Center for SETI Research).

The Three Winners of the 2009 TED Prize - ... in more detail

Each wins $100,000 plus "One Wish to Change the World." Their wishes will be unveiled at TED2009 on February 5, 2009.

The 2009 TED Prize Live from the TED Conference - Special introductions by: Quincy Jones, Al Gore, and Richard Branson ... - A number of cinemas and similar venues across the country are going to feature the presentations in a simulcast (the in-person event gets over 1000 attendees but sells out).

trailer for the 2009 winners

As I recently mentioned, Sylvia Earle also recently held an MIT X Prize Lab workshop on "Deep Diving" ocean prizes. She is also part of an announcement about Google Earth planned for February 2 (that's 2 days from now, and only 3 days before the TED event -- but I have no idea if these are at all related). From the Google Earth Blog announcement link:

Google has sent out an invitation to the press, including Google Earth Blog, for a "Special announcement about Google Earth" on February 2nd in San Francisco. And this event looks like it could be the biggest announcement since Google Earth was released! Speakers include: former Vice President Al Gore, CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, VP of Google Marissa Mayer, and Director of Google Geo John Hanke. Wow! ...

Another clue for this announcement was some other speakers for the announcement: Sylvia Earle - Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic Society; Terry Garcia - EVP for National Geographic Society, and Greg Farrington, Executive Director for California Academy of Sciences. The last one isn't surprising because the invitation says the announcement will be held at the California Academy of Sciences.

Here's some information about Terry Garcia:

Prior to joining the Society in 1999, Garcia was the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this role he directed and coordinated U.S. coastal, ocean and atmospheric programs, including the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, the National Weather Service and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service.

He's also involved with Scotland's ~$20M Saltire Prize for marine renewable energy:

The National Geographic Society's head of global missions, Terry Garcia, was announced as one of the first members of the international prize committee, along with Scotland's chief scientific adviser, Prof Anne Glover.

This announcement will be at the California Academy of Sciences in a place I like, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

Sylvia Earle - This YouTube video is from a talk by Sylvia Earle in September 2008 at the Zeitgeist Google Partner Forum. The talk includes a Google Earth tour of the fragile oceans. It ends with some brief comments about Ocean X PRIZEs (Peter Diamandis was making a presentation there the next day) and crewed exploration of the ocean depths.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Participation high in Team America Rocketry Challenge - Space for All

Free Flying Mini Lunar Lander - Texas Space Grant Consortium topic for Spring 2009 Design Challenge - This one mentions the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and the Google Lunar X PRIZE:

Design and build a small scale, free flying lunar lander vehicle that can be used to study some of the larger aspects of the lander problem and perhaps ultimately even compete in the Lunar Lander Challenge. The lander should be designed such that it can evolve to accommodate future growth both in size and complexity. Although not a requirement, it is anticipated that the initial vehicle would be on the order of 10-20 kg and utilize common off the shelf parts. Ultimately, it is a trade between cost, parts availability, and performance.

TSGC Teams
TSGC Topics - You can see all of the topics here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Detailed Review of X PRIZEs in Discover

Should American Science Be More Like "American Idol"? - Discover:

One morning while I was visiting, Diamandis sat in his corner office with his assistant at the time, Angel Panlasigui, and waded through potential prize ideas in advance of a board meeting. One possibility, hashed out with James Cameron, director of the movie Titanic, would foster the development of three-man submarines that could dive to the ocean floor. The next idea took the concept to a fantastic level: autonomous robots, cheap enough to mass-produce, that could sink to the bottom of the sea, collect data, and return to the surface to share that data with a central computer. “This is an idea that I kicked around with Larry Page,” Diamandis explained. “If you have thousands of these going down randomly, gathering data, you then can stitch the data all together.”

This is just a brief excerpt. It's a 4-page article; don't miss the "next page" key.

Masten Intership Updates

Briefs: Masten Space update; Euro space tourism studies - RLV News

Long overdue update Part 1 - RocketDeech - Not only was his update long overdue, but my link to his post is also way late - his post was in early December as his Masten internship was finishing up.

Happy 2009! - Colin Ake:

This year, I graduate Georgia Tech with an undergrad in Management. That means I have to find gainful employment or move back to the parents’ place. I think they’d probably prefer me to find gainful employment. I’m interning this semester with Masten Space Systems, learning from Michael Mealling, their VP of Business Development and helping him manage his workflow. ... In April I’m going out to Phoenix to the Space Access Conference - I’m looking forward to meeting some more people in the new space industry and hearing some very smart people speak about the industry and where it’s at. I’ve always been interested in space (I have Dad to thank for that) and I’d LOVE to work in the industry over the next few years doing the business side of things.

Colin Ake on Twitter

Barcamp Atlanta 2008:

Recent Happenings in Commercial Space Development
Michael Mealling

I'm going to go over recent events in the commercial space industry such as XCOR's XRacer, Bigelow's inflatable habitats, and Masten Space's XA 0.1 flights.


VOIP on the iPhone
Colin Ake

A look at different VOIP/SIP solutions for the iPhone, including the iCall beta, Fring, Truphone, and some of the web-based applications. I'll summarize each solution, compare them to each other, complain about some lacking features, and attempt to demo a few things.

The Peoples' Telescope

Public to point Hubble - Space for All

2009 Business Plan Competition Deadline

I actually briefly mentioned this one recently, but now they have a post about it at the Space 2.0 Blog:

8C Business Plan Competition 2009 - deadline approches - Space for All

Griffin Wins National Space Trophy

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin Wins RNASA Trophy - SpaceRef:

Rodolfo Gonzalez, President of the RNASA Foundation in Houston, Texas, reported that Griffin was selected for the National Space Trophy for: developing the plan for completion of the International Space Station following the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia, personally directing the shuttle return-to-flight activities; initiating the first procurement of commercial cargo and crew service in the agency's history; successfully establishing the architecture for a sustainable, achievable, and technically viable human exploration program; and awarding the initial spacecraft and launch vehicle contracts that will ensure the program meets its demanding schedule.


Griffin will receive his trophy at the RNASA annual black-tie banquet to be held on Friday, May 8, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Veteran space correspondent Miles O'Brien will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Information on corporate sponsorship opportunities and other program information are available on the Foundation's Web site:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ocean Engineering at the MIT X PRIZE Lab

It's a bit late to actually go to this unless you're Marty McFly, but it sounds like it must have been an interesting workshop. Hopefully the X PRIZE folks let us know how it went:

X PRIZE Lab “Deep Dive” Ocean Prizes Workshop
MIT Center for Ocean Engineering (another view)

Spotlights -->
X Prize Lab - Ocean Prizes IAP Workshop
Register Today!

January 7-8, 2009

Join us for an exciting and interactie workshop looking at how prizes could open up the oceans for revolutionary new exploration and science.

If you are interested in the deep sea, exploration, oceanography, autonomous vehicles, manned submersibles, marine biology, marine chemistry, new frontiers, innovatio, incentives, or just stimulating conversations, register today.

The panel will include: Graham Hawkes, Sylvia Earle and David Gallo!

Big Google Earth Announcement with Al Gore and More - Google Earth Blog - Sylvia Earle is also part of this announcement. If it's a big announcement on Google Earth, it's sure to be interesting, and if it's dealing with the oceans (which seems pretty likely) even better. Will there be any prizes in the mix? I have no idea.

X PRIZE Lab at MIT notes that the Spring 2009 class is on Bionics.

Here's the Fall 2008 Syllabus and the class page on X PRIZE Workshop: Grand Challenges in Energy. There are some impressive instructors for that class.

Lunar Prize Update - January 28, 2009

More Excuses, Excuses - Selenian Boondocks - Jon shows some reasons why he hasn't posted much recently. Those are pretty good excuses if you ask me. He also hints about a future Masten update.

Briefs: Unreasonable update; Ramping up a rocket - RLV News

Meet Jaluro, a Two-Wheeled Open-Source Lunar Rover -

Plus, there are numerous updates on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Announcements page.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Student Launch Initiative Challenge 2009

NASA Challenges University Student Launch Initiative Teams - SpaceRef:

Twenty student teams selected by NASA from colleges and universities around the country are spending the winter building sophisticated rockets they will launch high over Alabama during NASA's 2008-2009 University Student Launch Initiative in April.

The annual rocketry challenge will be held April 18 at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Student teams will bring their rockets to the NASA center, where professional engineers will conduct formal design reviews of the vehicles before the students take part in a final, all-day launch.

Insurance Blog on Automotive X PRIZE Press Release

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Applauds President Obama’s Plans to Tighten Environmental Automobile Standards - Insurance Blog - We have to get the space industry to the point where places like the Insurance Blog cover it without batting an eye.

UK Space Conference 2009

UK Space Conference 2009 - - UKSC 2009, to be held April 1-4, includes lots of events, including the following prize-related ones:


Is a model Rocket competition the final of which will be held at Charterhouse on April 2nd. Those schools that have qualified for the final will fly their model rockets, which are designed to achieve a precise flight profile. The team that comes gets closest win a trip to the United States to take part in a American competition.

The Sir Arthur Clarke Awards
(April 4th evening)

The Arthurs are the UK Space equivalent of the Oscars. Dress is black tie and the evening includes the presentation of the awards in various categories. There is a meal and live music and a chance to socialise with some of the stars of the UK Space community.

Individual seats are only available to those attending the conference or by invitation. Tables can be purchased by organisations (the price includes a donation to Sir Arthurs favourite charity).

Science Fiction Prizes

Science Fiction Awards Watch - This site is overwhelmingly full of information and updates about awards in the SF genre.

Win a Mars book in Sci-Fi photo caption contest - Marooned: Science Fiction books on Mars

The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest - I haven't seen any promotion of this contest this year, but I'm going to assume it's on just like the last 2 years, since the linked pages says:

-Deadline - April 1, 2009. ...

PRIZES: - The GRAND PRIZE winner will be published in a future issue of Jim Baen's Universe* and paid at the normal paying rates for professional story submittals. The author will also receive a specially designed award, free entry into the 2009 International Space Development Conference, a year's membership in the National Space Society ($45 level) and a prize package containing various Baen Books, Jim Baen's Universe and National Space Society merchandise. ...

- Winners will be announced and notified no later than May 5, 2009. (only the winners will be notified) The winners will be honored at the 2009 International Space Development Conference in Orlando, Florida, May 28-31, 2009. (though we would prefer the winner attend the conference, it is not required.) ...

Masten and Space Angels

Virginia-based Space Angels names presenting firms for venture forum - Tech Journal - Of course I'm going to point out the (former?) Lunar Lander Challenge competitor Masten Space Systems. The others include GPS service, VTOL, remote sensing from blimps, and more.


Jan 30, 2009 Morrison & Foerster, McLean, VA ...

Presenting companies will include:

Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Dannie Heineman Prize Winner for Astrophysics

University of Hawaii at Manoa Astronomer Wins Heineman Prize - SpaceRef - The award goes to Dr. Lennox Cowie "for his innovative observations and studies of the distant universe, which have significantly advanced our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies."

American Astronomical Society Grants, Prizes, and Awards

ESA Global Trajectory Optimization Competition

Briefs: Space entrepreneurship center opens; Spacecraft trajectory contest - RLV News

AGI, TME, and Singapore Space Challenge 2009

AGI and TME Systems Sponsor Singapore Space Challenge 2009 - SpaceRef - From the press release:

AGI, producer of commercial software for integrated analysis of land, sea, air, and space assets, is sponsoring the second Singapore Space Challenge (SSC) along with its business partner in Singapore, TME Systems. Organized by the Singapore Space and Technology Association, the SSC challenges tertiary-education students to design a satellite or system of satellites for launch into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to observe seaways around Singapore and neighboring countries for distress signals that might aid search and rescue (SAR) and pirate activity monitoring efforts.

Singapore Space Challenge 2009

Unreasonable Working Hard

Here are a couple with links for Unreasonable Rocket:

Briefs: Unreasonable update; Flometrics biodiesel; SPG update - RLV News

Briefs: RRS launch event; Unreasonable machining - RLV News

What If? 2009

2009 What If? Competition - If you are a 6th, 7th or 8th grader (ages 10-14) in the U.S., you can enter this essay competition and win a great prize! This year’s competition is about living on an orbiting space station as the first step to building colonies on the moon or mars. Use your imagination, innovation and intelligence to tell us what we can learn from this experiment. This essay and any supporting information are due February 13, 2009. You can form a team of two or work alone, and you need to recruit an Adult Sponsor. You can Register your team now!

Here's an excerpt from the schedule:

Feb 1, 2009 – Registration Closes to all Registrants
All teams must have registered by 11:59pm Central Time, February 1st to be eligible for the competition.

Feb 13, 2009 – Competition Entries are due via the guidelines
All submission documents MUST be emailed to before 11:59pm Central Time, February 13th, 2009. Please read the full Submission Guidelines prior to submitting your entry.

March 2, 2009: Winners are selected
If your team is a winner, you and your team’s Adult Advisor will be notified by email no later than March 3rd. There will be one 1st place winner for each grade (6th, 7th and 8th) and one Grand Prize Winner selected from the three 1st place grade winners.

April 2nd – 4th, 2009: Grand Prize Winner Participates in the Conrad Award Innovation Summit™
The Grand Prize Winning team is awarded a trip to the Conrad Award Innovation Summit™ which is the final program of our partner program, the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards. For more details on these awards, click here. This Summit is being conducted in conjunction with Yuri’s Night – a celebration of the first manned spaceflight – at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. ...

Conrad Foundation and National Space Society

The Conrad Foundation and the National Space Society Announce Collaboration - SpaceRef -

The NSS will counsel student teams in the space categories and provide access to educational information, where needed. In addition, NSS representatives will serve as judges in the lunar exploration and personal spaceflight categories. Team finalists will also have the opportunity to present their product concepts at the NSS' 2009 International Space Development Conference, taking place in Orlando from May 28-31, 2009.


More than 50 teams are currently competing in the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards. To learn more about the competition, to become a partner or to support your favorite student team, visit

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Google Prizes

I've mentioned the Google Lunar X PRIZE many times, and the Android Challenge and competitions related to Google Earth as well. Here are some recent posts on other competitions that Google has run or supported recently. They're all from the "Offical Google Blog":

It's Jam Time - on the Google Code Jam

Gingerbread architecture for all

Gingerbread Competition results are in - on the SketchUp Gingerbread House Design Competition

Make over your site using the wisdom of the crowd - on the Website Workout contest using Website Optimizer

How to become a author - on the Knol for contest:

Simply go to the official contest page, create your own knol about a subject you know well, and the contest judges will select five finalists who will be eligible to have their knols featured on the site. In addition, the best entry overall will be awarded a $1,000 grand prize.

Building engineers - on a Google-supported FIRST Robotics Team called the Thunderbolts

Friday, January 23, 2009

Prize Roundup - January 23, 2008

NSS Space Elevator Team News - 1-18-2009 - We finally recieved a copy of the BBC Show that we were part of. Here's a clip of it. James May is the super-brilliantiant host of Top Gear on the BBC.

See the link for the actual clip.

SpaceX donates launch to Heinlein microgravity competition - RLV News has more details on the competition from SpaceX.

Free Patches from Anousheh Ansari's ISS Mission - The Launch Pad

Mapping Space on Earth, a #FFD Friday Funday Wrapup - The Launch Pad

Cambridge Making Carbon Nanotube Ribbons at Centimeter Lengths... - Next Big Future

Industrial Scale Production of Cambridge Carbon Nanotube Tethers Will Enable Hypersonic Skyhooks and Better Moon and Mars Space Elevators - Next Big Future

Laser Launch on Next Big Future - LaserMotive (Beam Power team):

The Next Big Future blog talks about Jordin’s work on space launch via laser array. The post talks about his NIAC report, and various presentations and discussions that have happened in the intervening years. If you’re not familiar with laser launch, the post is a reasonable introduction to the idea and the work Jordin has done on it.

Enter the Popular Science Invention Awards! -

The Car of the Future Promised for October - Wired on Aptera (Automotive X PRIZE team) - link from X PRIZE Foundation

NAME THAT MARS ROVER - Cosmic Log - I already mentioned the contest a few days ago, but Cosmic Log has more details.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BonNova Lift Off Details

Prize-Contender Lauryad Lunar Lander Lifts Off - RLV News has more details on the recent BonNova lift off, including associated inventions and patentable features.

Some Student Prize Deadlines and Facebook Pages

Here are some deadlines:

The Oregon Space Grant Consortium Education Resources Blog seems to be keeping track of a lot of student space prize deadlines:

PISCES 2009 Student Design Competition - Notice of Interest Due By January 31, 2009

2009 RASC-AL Competition for College Students - Deadline February 6, 2009

Great Moonbuggy Race Competition - Deadline February 1, 2009

I'll add to that list:

8C Business Plan Competition 2009 - Step 3: Submit Business Plan Executive Summary (MANDATORY; by 2/6/2009) LAST DATE TO ENTER! (I'd check on steps 1 and 2 as well). This one used to be called Lunar Ventures (a name which I find a lot easier to remember).

UKAYRoC - Registration is closed; Qualification Closes 2 March 2009 and UKAYRoC 2008-2009 Final 2 April 2009

.. and here are some Facebook prize pages:

University Rover Challenge on Facebook

Team America Rocketry Challenge on Facebook (see TARC is on Facebook! from the TARC Blog Archive).

If You Can Do Open Source with GLXP Hardware, Why not Hack It?

Hacking the X-Prize? - Lunar Networks

Any way to "hack" the Google Lunar X Prize? - original post with thread

Automotive X PRIZE Education Program

Learn More About Our Education Program - Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Blog:

The Education Program comprises three integrated components that will educate the public and create a multi-tiered approach to engage students and showcase the 21st century skills, knowledge, and expertise needed to succeed in work and life, including creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration. The components include an online knowledge center with vehicle telemetry and an eco-feedback indicator, a national high school student contest, and race series host city events.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE at 2009 North American International Auto Show - Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Blog - This includes a bunch of pictures from the show.

EVCast Interview with Aptera - X PRIZE Cars blog

CanSat Competition in Malaysia

Wen Jiun's Blog - This link is for the CanSat tag for that blog, so you'll see a number of posts on a CanSat competition in Malaysia. There are lots of sharp pictures (more of the teams and reviews than of hardware), and it goes all the way back to the 2007 competition.

Malaysia SiswaSat Program - This is the competition site. From there:

National Space Agency (ANGKASA) under Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation (MOSTI) has organized a beneficial space program that require student to design, build and launch a nano-scale satellite by using a helium tethered balloon at the altitude of 150 meter.

Sponsorship Conference

IEG's 26th Annual Sponsorship Conference Explores Why Sponsorship Is The Right Thing For A Down Economy - PR Web - This press release notes that Peter Diamandis is one of the keynote speakers:

Peter Diamandis, chairman/CEO, X PRIZE Foundation, creator of the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE awarded to the developers of SpaceShipOne and of four descendant competitions including the Google Lunar X PRIZE and Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, will demonstrate the power of combining business-building sponsorship and strategic philanthropy for mind-blowing results.

In addition to the X PRIZE Foundation areas mentioned, I wonder if he'll talk about the sponsorship aspects of the Rocket Racing League?

Singularity: Ideas So Big They Change Everything -'s conference site - The conference is March 8-11 in Chicago.

The conference brochure has more about Diamandis's talk.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dragon Competition: SpaceX, Heinlein Trust, and Rice

Heinlein Trust and SpaceX Announce Competition to Promote Research Innovation in Zero Gravity - SpaceRef:

The Heinlein Prize Trust announces the Microgravity Research Competition to reward innovation in the use of microgravity to advance biotech, nanotech, combustion, metallurgy, and other fields. Sponsored by the Trust and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the competition offers a $25,000 prize and transportation to and from Low Earth Orbit for the winning experiment aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. ...

The Microgravity Research Competition is open to U.S. universities and non-profits organizations with industry partners. The winning team will also get to witness the launch of their experiment from Cape Canaveral, Fla. ...

The application and judging process will be supported by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. The winner will be announced on April 18, 2009 at the Awards Banquet for the 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition hosted by the Rice Alliance.

There's more at the following sites:

Labflight: A Researcher's Guide to Microgravity

Microgravity Research Competition Flight to Space and $25,000 Grant (PDF) - It's a 24 page document that I haven't had a chance to read (you know - the blog's a hobby, it's a work day, and the youngster learned how to roll over 1 direction but not the other and thus is frustrated to no end, there being no microgravity assistance here). It looks like it has the competition details as well as background material on microgravity research.

Here's the Heinlein Prize Trust version of the press release with pictures of DragonLab, Elon Musk of SpaceX, and Art Dula of the Heinlein Trust.

NASA Boosts Rice Business Plan Competition Support

NASA Adds $60,000 in Prizes to the 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition - SpaceRef:

Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship Announces Three New $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Prizes to the Worlds Largest and Richest Competition. ... The three new NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Prizes will be awarded by NASA for the best business plans that represent an engineering technology which has applications to both the NASA space program and to Earth-based activities. These awards will be in addition to the $20,000 NASA Earth/Space Life Sciences Innovation Award, for a total of $80,000 in cash to be awarded by NASA. ...

Technology innovation examples include:

  • Power, Propulsion and Chemical Processing
  • Communications, Avionics and Sensors
  • Space Habitation/Life Support Systems
  • Mobility and Mechanisms - including In Situ Resource Utilization
  • Analysis and Integration
  • Thermal Systems
  • Operations, Supportability and Logistics
  • Structures and Radiation Shielding
  • Cross Cutting/Systems Engineering Innovations are also sought

Frednet Featured in Control Engineering

Two-wheel robot shoots for the Moon - Control Engineering covers open source Google Lunar X PRIZE team Frednet:

The team says its goal (besides winning the Google Lunar X Prize), is to bring the same successful approach used in developing major software systems (such as the Internet, and Linux) to bear on the problems associated with space exploration and research. In so doing, they plan to establish an Open Space Foundation that provides incentives, education, and funding to future individuals and organizations seeking opportunities in this final frontier.

Is it possible to stabilize a 2-wheel robotic vehicle? - Control Engineering's Ask Charlie gets into some JALURO physics and engineering.

Monday, January 19, 2009

More Citizen's Briefing Book Prize Recommendations

Recently I posted on some recommendations that were sent in on the Citizen's Briefing Book. Here's more from that site. Apparently a lot of people are interested in the prize approach, in particular for energy applications. (I'd say that space and a few other areas are even more fertile ground for prizes than energy for a couple reasons, but there's certainly plenty of room for quite a few more energy prizes, too). I guess I'd like to "vote up" some of these, but it looks like it's too late.

Govt Sponsored X-prize for Private Space Industry

An X-Prize for a 50kWhour UltraCapacitor

X-Prize for Green Cars: stop subsidizing over bloated and out dated auto makers!

Ongoing Technology / Innovation X Prize

Energy Innovation Prize

Rewards for Performance, Not Subsidies

An X-prize for next gen environment friendly cars

$1 Billion Solar Airplane X-PRIZE

Inspire Science and Innovation Activity

Sunday, January 18, 2009

University Spaceflight Competition Proposal

Here's something I ran across while looking into the Cal Poly CubeSat Workshop while making my previous post:

U-Space Competition (PDF) - University Spaceflight Competition proposal:

A Possible U-Space Competition
  • Teams fund, design, build, test, and compete with a Cubesat that are launched together
  • Funding includes launch costs
  • Competition goals would involve successful collection and analysis of required data
  • e.g. successful operation and data transmission to ground over TBD weeks
  • Example - collection of pre-defined Earth observations
  • Public outreach

More details about the proposed competition, such as rationale, constraints, and scenarios, appear in the linked file.

Mars Methane, Interview, CubeSat, and Rover

Briefs: Chances for Martian methane microbes; Mars quarantine? -RLV News - This post full of Mars information had me checking out the Mars Society site, and it turns out there are some new prize-related items there:

Is Your University Up to the Challenge? - The deadline to sign up for this year's Mars Society Unversity Rover Challenge is approaching.

Happy 200(3)³ - This summarizes many recent events and plans for the TEMPO³ project. The whole project is in a sense a space prize since it started by winning a Mars Society contest. There's even more, though:

Be on the lookout for our outreach contest announcement, where you get to compete for prizes by talking to groups of people about TEMPO³!

From Facebook: ... And I promise, competition annoucements are coming soon! :-) ... At 100 members, we will have a prize for the group member who is on the "mutual friends" list of the most other members. ...

There are more interesting items on prototype hardware, a possible

scientific sub-mission for TEMPO³, involving multiple partnerships and potential funding

and possible participation in the CubeSat Developers' Workshop in San Luis Obispo, California and the SmallSat Conference in Logan, Utah.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Masten Makes Metal Molten

Masten Space Systems - Two Engine Test Fire - Space Fellowship:

Ben Brockert has posted a series of new videos on Youtube, most recently the Two engine fire video. ...

McGill News

News from the McGill Space Elevator Team - The Space Elevator Blog posts on some short news updates from the team.

L2 Cup

While reading about my previous post, I ran across the following site: L2 Cup. This is a proposal for a crewed space race similar to sailing races here on Earth. I mentioned the proposal in my list of LEAG posters and talks related to prizes, but I didn't know about the L2 Cup web site.

The idea reminds me of a book I read long ago of short stories featuring solar sails: Project Solar Sail. The book sales were supposed to help fund a solar sail race.

Racing Solar Sails Around the Moon - The Artemis Project

Space Infrastructure Prize Recommendations

In December, Jon Goff at Selenian Boondocks posted on propellant depots. I linked to his post because of a recommendation there to fund a proposed Centennial Challenge related to fuel depots. Now, in the second of two Daily Kos posts and entries to the Obama space transition team, Jon and Ferris Valyn expand on the propellant depot discussion to include other needed space infrastructure like tugs and RLVs. The discussion includes several recommendations, and here's one of them:

Prizes: One proposed prize delayed due to lack of funding for the NASA Centennial Challenges program was the Propellant Depot Challenge. This challenge was to demonstrate long-duration storage of cryogenic propellants on-orbit. Full funding should be restored to the Centennial Challenges program (as well as equivalent DOD-run prize programs) to provide money for prizes like this to incentivize demonstration of key propellant depot capabilities. Such prizes can also be used for demonstrating different space tug capabilities (such as deorbiting of space debris, relocating of space assets, etc), and for flight demonstration of robust and highly reusable thermal protection systems for reusable space transports.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - January 16, 2009

There's just a quick link roundup today:

Latest Mock SpaceShipOne Soars Above Sponsor's Museum - (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

Pioneering tourist spaceship installed in museum - blog (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

Briefs: BonNova Lauryad video; CECE test video - RLV News

Teams on Twitter - The Launch Pad (on Google Lunar X PRIZE teams)

Name That Rover - NASA Watch - Deadline Nears for Student Contest to Name NASA's Next Mars Rover

Briefs: Pushing for British astronauts; UK space academy contest - HobbySpace -


35 fully funded places at Space School UK, a 6 or 8 day residential summer space school hosted by the University of Leicester can be won (25 places for students aged 16-18, 10 places for students aged 14-15). Space School UK includes lectures and workshops by some of the world’s leading space scientists. There’s also the chance to build and launch high-speed rockets, as well as to take part in telescope observing sessions, simulated space missions, SCUBA diving, flying in the Airkix vertical windtunnel and visiting the laboratories where Europe’s ExoMars rover is being built.

Here's the Space Academy Competition 2009 Flyer (PDF).

The 2009 Photonics West Exhibition - The Space Elevator Blog

Spaceward to appear at the Photonics West Exhibition - The Space Elevator Blog - Booth help or video mixing help is requested.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BonNova First Lift Off

BonNova vehicle lifts off - RLV News - BonNova offers a video with pictures of the flight, and this advise:

Check back soon for full video coverage.

Twitter Tidbit

I checked the twitter accounts mentioned in my previous post, and ran across this bit of information at nasaprize (the NASA Centennial Challenges folks):

Power Beaming and Tether Challenge events now scheduled for April 26-30. More details to come. from web

Regolith Challenge 2009 Email

I'm just going to include the whole email:

Hello Everybody,

Just a quick note to let you know that another Regolith ExcavationChallenge is expected later in 2009. In addition, California SpaceAuthority is expected to continue as Co-Host of the event with theCalifornia Space Education and Workforce Institute. We still have a lot of details to be worked out, so stay tuned for more information in the next few weeks.

For those of you who use Twitter (or haven't but are adventurous enough to try it out), you can follow @regolith_chal ( for smaller updates. Milestone level announcements such as rules releases and important dates are planned to be made via this email list. For information about all ofthe NASA Centennial Challenges, you can also follow @nasaprize ( for updates.

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to express your continued interest in the Regolith Excavation Challenge. We have continued to receive many inquiries since the 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge event in August. I hope that all of this enthusiasm will help to bring the Regolith Excavation Challenge and the community that surrounds it to a new level in 2009.

Matt Everingham
Engineering Programs Manager
California Space Authority

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Building the Innovation Superhighway

Caution: Innovation in Progress - The Launch Pad - This one compares one of the advantages of innovation prizes - parallel innovation of all types - to the more limited "serial innovation" you might get with a traditional R&D grant, internal project, or contract.

Prize Recommendations for New Administration

Here are a couple ideas featuring prizes on the Citizens Briefing Book site:

The Innovation Challenge - Some of the best ideas come from students attending our engineering and technical universities. Establish the "Best of the Best Inovation Challenge"that provides funding for research & development in three categories

1.)new energy solutions
2.) New environmental solutions
3.) Future Industryand Infrastructure innovation. ...

National Design Competition for Rebooting America - I would like to propose that the new administration sponsor a first-time ever national design competition as a part of the upcoming "rebooting of america". Architects, designers, artists and more could compete to dream up radical and optimistic ideas for restructuring America - such as making more social and safe urban living conditions, extremely energy efficient homes and neighborhoods, new small-scale urban structures to encourage more interactive neighborhoods with more shared resources, and even grader scale visions. ...

If You Wish Upon a Star ...

Google Lunar X PRIZE: Where dreams really do come true... - The Launch Pad - Google Lunar X PRIZE student competition members take a line from nearby Disney World as they describe their role in the competition and the Shuttle launch reward that resulted.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ames Pioneering Lunar Landers

Briefs: NewSpace Digest; NASA Ames LADEE update - RLV News - The article mentions the somewhat role-reversal-ish Odyssey Moon and NASA Ames lunar lander arrangement. The main point, though, is to show how the NASA Ames LADEE projection is progressing. I'm impressed by how much cost effective and innovative work and commercial partnering is coming out of NASA Ames. I don't know how much to attribute to Pete Worden's leadership; I'm sure it's a factor, but Ames has a tradition of "get the job done on a budget" from the pathfinding Pioneer series.

2009 Electric Plane Conference

The 2009 CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium - Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California - Friday, April 24, 2009 - CAFE Foundation - The organization that runs NASA's Personal Air Vehicle/General Aviation Centennial Challenges also runs an electric aircraft conference. Last year's conference had some presentations about the General Aviation Challenge, and with the CAFE request to NASA to focus this year's challenge on a $1M competition for fuel efficient aircraft, I'd imagine the competition will be a hot topic this year, too:

Topics will include the latest in motors, PV technology, controllers, batteries, chargers, new designs, prototype performance, and the “100 MPG aircraft race”.

Innovation Generation

CLOSING THE INNOVATION GAP - Cosmic Log - Encouraging STEM education and future professionals is the subject of the article, but it touches on a number of topics related to innovation prizes:

The Lemelson-MIT Program is probably best-known for the prizes it sponsors, including a $500,000 prize for midcareer inventors, a $100,000 prize for sustainable technologies, and an assortment of prizes for student inventors. But the program also runs an initiative called InvenTeams, which is aimed at putting students and teachers together with innovators from industry.


The Lemelson-MIT Program also gives kids a broader view of how technology can help the planet. Last year, KickStart CEO Martin Fisher won the sustainability prize for his company's low-cost, human-powered irrigation pumps - and during the awards ceremony he met with students who were working on their own irrigation technologies.

"You can imagine how they felt," Schuler said. "Their 'god,' basically, in this field was on stage with them."


One field that's ripe for innovation is the energy industry, as illustrated by this week's greening of the Detroit Auto Show. In the survey conducted for the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, 37 percent of the teens said the gasoline-powered car was the technology most likely to become extinct in the next five years. Figuring out exactly how the cars of the future will be powered is one of the key jobs waiting for the innovators of this generation and the next generation.

The Detroit Auto Show is also the location of a lot of Automotive X PRIZE activity:

Competition Guidelines Have Just Been Released - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Blog (That's the often quiet X PRIZE Foundation blog, not X PRIZE Cars). The post gives some hints about the changes in the guidelines:

we have removed the top speed requirement, allowed tandem seating in the Alternative Class, reduced acceleration requirements, reduced back seat requirements in the Mainstream Class, and removed the requirement for an eco-feedback indicator

I already posted on the "Demonstration Division" that's intended to encourage major auto manufacturers to enter the competition. The X PRIZE Foundation news scroller also has a number of articles about the Detroit Auto Show with sections on Automotive X PRIZE teams at the show.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Star of Teaching

Teacher in Space Trainee Named “American Star of Teaching” - Teachers in Space blog - It's a post from September 30 last year that I missed when it came out.

Space Prize Roundup - January 11, 2009

Briefs: MSS sends suggestions to transition team; Brian Binnie profile - RLV News

Static Test - Unreasonable Rocket mentions an upcoming test.

Test Results: Ring Catalyst Fails. - Unreasonable Rocket reports on the test and some FloMetrics activity nearby.

Updates from LaserMotive… - The Space Elevator Blog - I posted recently on the "Meet the team" item earlier, but not the post on new LaserMotive sponsor Brion Toss Yacht Riggers.

From the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site (there are many more recent posts there, too):

40 years ago - Astrobotic on Surveyor 7

Mooncast Simulation in HD - Frednet

Saturday, January 10, 2009

X PRIZE Cars Blog Begins Focus on In-Depth Posts

Although the news roundups are over, X PRIZE Cars continues the in-depth posts:

Videos - Tesla, Aptera, Peter Diamandis - The Musk and Diamandis videos may be of interest to people here solely for the space content, too, given their other projects. I briefly mentioned the Diamandis video on the actual talk last month, if it looks familiar.

Business Plan Requirements for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize - X PRIZE Cars looks into the tradeoffs. The requirements are needed if the contest is going to achieve its main goal of fuel-efficient cars that are on the market, but it would be a shame if the requirement drives away teams that aren't interested in making car companies. Such teams could still introduce useful innovations. Some might even be interested in business at the component level. It would be nice if there were a PAXP prize class to encourage such teams.

Major Carmakers Invited to Join "Demonstration Division" of Automotive X Prize - Speaking of new PAXP classes ... This post covers a new X PRIZE Foundation effort to encourage the major car companies (besides Tata Motors) to join the competition. Will it work? From the post:

Can you think of any way to get the major carmakers to participate? I'm sure the Automotive X Prize folks would love to get an email with an innovative new way to get the majors involved... maybe what we need is a prize contest for ideas on how to get GM to race the Volt (pictured at NAIAS 2008) in the Automotive X Prize...

Operations Manager of Rockets for X PRIZE Cup

Nicole Jordan: The First Colombian Astronaut - La Prensa San Diego

Friday, January 09, 2009

Space Ticket Contests

eSpaceTickets - We are the world's oldest space tourism contest organization. Today we are offering a space tourism contest whereby today's youth can win an opportunity to attend the US Space & Rocket Center® and participating adults have the opportunity to win a NASTAR Center sub-orbital spaceflight launch experience.

Voyage2Space Competition Offers Space Travel for Only $20 - Parabolic Arc

Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards Deadline

Conrad Award - Blogs - You can see how some of the Conrad Awards teams are doing at the "blogs" site as they get ready for today's deadline for team registrations and initial submissions. Clicking the team names in the blog posts gets you more information about that team.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Let's Hope for Next Year

I took down my 2008 National Space Society Space Settlement Calendar and replaced it with my 2009 one. I took a look to see what's happening for 2010, but according to the NSS Contests page, it's not happening this time:

NSS Space Settlement Calendar Art Contest
Buy the 2009 Space Settlement Calendar
See gallery of NSS 2009 Calendar contest entries
See gallery of NSS 2008 Calendar contest entries
There is no contest for a 2010 Calendar

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Mars Fiction Awards

Marooned: Science Fiction books on Mars is a blog dedicated to SF about, or set on, one particular subject. I've read a handful of Mars SF books (Heinlein, Bradbury, Baxter, Robinson, Pohl, and Bear come to mind off the top of my head). I've probably also read at least a couple dozen Mars short stories (I'm more of a short story or novella reader, having read many Dozois collections, subscribed to SF magazines, and so on). I've also read a few non-fiction Mars books, including much of the University of Arizona Press's massive book Mars.

Apparently I've hardly scratched the surface.

Just to make sure we get prizes into this post, here's the Awards tag for the blog. I don't remember anything about Mars in Stapledon's "Last and First Men" which is mentioned presumably as a Mars book in this award post, though.

Conrad Award Deadline and Chat Session

Here are a couple messages from the Conrad Foundation:

Hello, Conrad Spirit of Innovation Teams!

Just a reminder that team registrations and initial submissions are due next Friday, January 9, 2009 in the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards.

Remember that all submissions must be received via the website

We look forward to seeing the results of your hard work and innovation!


Team Conrad

I'll just include parts of the 2nd one:

Team Conrad is both fortunate and proud to announce that Major General Charles Frank "Charlie" Bolden, Jr., USMC (retired) will host our next Live Video Chat Series on January 6, 2009, at 2:00 p.m. PST., 5:00 EST. Bolden will share his experience and in-depth knowledge of personal spaceflight.

Bolden is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who served from 1981 to 1994 as an astronaut in the United States' space program.

Bolden, a veteran of four space flights, has logged over 680 hours in space on the Columbia, Discovery, and Atlantis Space Shuttle missions.


For additional information on Maj. Gen Bolden visit

Remember that questions can be preposted via the website, and can also be asked live during the session.

Registered teams may access this session by logging into, or members of the public may participate on our channel: ...

Friday, January 02, 2009

Project 10^100 Voting Phase Approaches

Project 10^100 - The phase where ideas are sent in to Google's competition is over, but the voting phase will start on January 27, 2009.

Unmanned Vehicle Competition Dates and Outback UAV Challenge

Here are dates for the 2009 versions of some of the student robotic vehicle competitions:

International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) - The next event will be held during July, 2009. The venue will be the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) which is located in the city of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. A 2009 Winner receives: $10,000

Seventh Annual Student Unmanned Systems (UAS) Competition - Naval Air - June 17 - June 21, 2009

The 17th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition - Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan on June 5 - June 8, 2009

Student Autonomous Underwater Competition – Europe (SAUC-E) 2009 - Entrant forms complete by end of May 2009. The competition takes place in July 2009.

I don't know the information for the 2009 U.S. Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Competition or the Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) Competition.

The AUVSI Student Competitions site lists one I hadn't heard of before: 2008 UAV Challenge - Outback Rescue. It has an Australian high school component, and video documentary component, and an open search and rescue challenge that's not just open to Australian students, but also to anyone worldwide. The mission involves finding and assisting 'Outback Joe', a lost bush walker in Australia's vast outback using UAVs. It was held in September, with $70,000 in prizes available.

L Prize Partners Now Represent 100M Potential Customers

L Prize™ Competition Adds Nine New Partners from Coast to Coast (PDF) - The following energy efficiency organizations and utilities each signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DOE: DTE Energy, Sierra Pacific Power (now doing businesses as NV Energy), Eugene Water and Electric Board, Seattle City Light, Energy Trust of Oregon, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, NSTAR Electric, Commonwealth Edison Company, and Cape Light Compact. The L Prize is the first government-sponsored technology competition designed to spur lighting manufacturers to develop high quality, high efficiency solid-state lighting (LED) products to replace the common light bulb. The L Prize competition aims to radically accelerate America’s shift from inefficient, dated lighting products to innovative, high-performance products. Sixteen partners from coast to coast are now on board to bring utility programs and other incentives for winning L Prize products.

L Prize site

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Catch-Up Post: Cisco I-Prize Winner

Yes, it often happens - I miss a prize event and have to post on it after the fact. I don't have a thorough means of catching prize news automatically or time to frequently check more than a few sites by hand, and although it might be useful to make one that's publicly available, I've never set up a "prize calendar" even for my own use to make sure I catch events that are pre-scheduled. Now that my automated Google blog searches are for some reason returning a huge number of irrelevant or out of date articles, it may happen more often until I fix it or set up a replacement. Non-space prize events in particular may slip by more often.

Anyway, here's the late Cisco I-Prize news from October:

Cisco Selects Winner of Global I-Prize Innovation Contest - Cisco News Room - The winning team, based in Germany and Russia, presented Cisco with a business plan that improves energy efficiency by taking advantage of Cisco's leadership in Internet Protocol (IP) technology. ... The winning team proposed an approach to using the network as the platform for visibility, manageability and, ultimately, optimized control of energy-consuming systems. The winning business plan was notable for its combination of technology and business model innovation.

You'll find more about the smart grid proposal at the Cisco I-Prize site.

NewSpace Year in Review

NewSpace in 2008 - Ups and Downs in entrepreneurial spaceflight - - Clark reviews the good and bad events of 2008 in the NewSpace industry. The review includes a whole section on space prizes, and some events in other sections that are also related to space prizes and competitions.