Saturday, August 29, 2009

Energy/Environment Prize Roundup: Automotive, Plane, Airship, Biofuels, NASA Centennial Challenges

Future NASA Centennial Challenges

As I mentioned in an earlier post, NASA Centennial Challenges is looking for Ideas for New NASA Prize Challenges. One of the "Criteria for Selecting New Prizes" noted on the NASA Centennial Challenges site is "Links between NASA Needs and National and Global Needs". Three of the six examples listed in this section strike me as particularly relevant to the subject of this post, energy and environment:

  • Energy - Alternative sources, transmission, storage and conservation
  • Food and Water Supplies, Life Support, Recycling, Hazard Remediation
  • Climate Change, Earth Science, Space Weather

Many of the specific "Prize Challenge Ideas" listed on the same page also seem relevant to energy and environment innovation prizes, including the following:

  • Electric aircraft - increasing range and speed
  • Improved safety and efficiency of aviation systems
  • Lunar greenhouse
  • Closed loop life support
  • Efficient clothes washing machine for space station
  • Lunar Night power source and/or power storage
  • Recycling of materials
  • Solar power systems (size, mass, performance, cost)
  • Power beaming - solar rover or airship
  • Space solar power demo
  • Power beaming to the lunar surface from space-based solar power systems
  • New applications for Earth observation data
  • Improved wind power systems (aeronautical technology, Earth or Mars application)
  • Closed loop life support systems and resource recycling
  • NASA Technologies to Meet Human Needs

All else being equal, it makes a lot of sense to me to go after innovations that help solve multiple problems at the same time, such as space technology improvements that also are improvements in energy, environment, or other important domains.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

Now Only 90 Official Teams Listed - X PRIZE Cars

Kinetic Vehicles MAX Withdraws from Automotive X Prize - X PRIZE Cars

Calculating MPGe - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

An Update on Design Judging - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE


TTXGP: Isle of Man electric motorcycle race - MIT? - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

The Electric Acid Test - On the Isle of Man, the beginnings of a marketable electric motorcycle. - MIT Review

One Gallon Challenge: 164 MPGe - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

One Gallon Challenge: alt-fuel "race" cars get up to 164 MPGe - AutoBlogGreen (link from the MIT team blog post above)

One Gallon Challenge - Boston GreenFest 2009

Gallons in an electric car? - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from One Gallon Challenge - MIT Electric Vehicle Team Blog

Prize Capital/Biofuels Prize

Eyes on the prize - David Strom’s Web Informant

The California Algae Fuel Prize (PDF) (draft/working copy) - Prize Capital - The concept includes a prize for the most fuel per acre (including farm and facility area) as well as a series of races with prizes. It also includes an advanced market commitment (10M gallons).

Algae Fuel Prize Workshop (PDF) - Prize Capital

The Algae Fuel Prize Draft V11 (PDF) - Prize Capital

CAFE Foundation

The The 2009 CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium presentations includes this one on what is now called the 2011 CAFE Green Flight Challenge: The AGP: Aviation’s Green Prize—The Flight Competition for 100 MPG Aircraft: Brien Seeley M.D. President, CAFE Foundation. It includes some ideas for the challenge in later years, too.

The Green Flight Challenge has been getting a lot of media coverage.

PADA Awards at AirVenture 2009 - 2009: Burt Rutan


Unmanned German sperm dirigible ‘to fly within days’ - Airship Z Prize - No, this isn't from an Austin Powers movie.

Win a pair of tickets to ride in world’s largest airship OC (Orange County) Register (link from Airship Z Prize site):

The tickets will go to the person who best answers the following question: “If you could fly over anything you wanted to in the world in Eureka, what would it be?” ... The flight will travel over Orange County, from Long Beach.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ERPS Paper, Lunar Lander Schedule thoughts, Regolith notice, ISPCS panel, GLXP Sponsorship, more

I might debate about a point here and there, but the paper Fund to Advance Single Stage Technology sent by members of the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society to the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee is a thought-provoking read. Here's an excerpt:

... What is needed instead is a system to set forth goals, establish payments for meeting those goals, monitor the progress of those hoping to claim an award for those goals, and issuing checks to the successful ones who demonstrate the requirements of the goals. This is what an Awards Office does, and this is what we need.

Paper Submitted - Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society

Unreasonable Rocket discusses the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge launch attempts that have been scheduled so far: Unreasonable rocket and NG-LLC schedule.

Armadillo going pro? - NASA has a recent discussion on Armadillo Aerospace, including some comments by Jon Goff of Masten Space Systems.

Amateur astronomers win comet finding prize - Space for All

Prizes - Space Elevator Blog gives us some thoughts by Jerry Pournelle

Notice of Centennial Challenges: 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge - - Registration is open.

@fineri (Iain Finer of N-Prize team Kiwi 2 Space) - Check out the pictures: - Engine mockups, sounding rocket engine on left,sub-orbital engine on right. - Engine Igniter, hopefully get it tested in the next few weeks..

@ARCAspace - Interviu Dumitru Popescu - Radio Romania Cultural

@OmegaEnvoy - Busy day today working on a special project with partner @4Frontiers. #GLXP

W Rameesha De Silva and Dr. Palitha Dassanayake, Lunar Rover Development - SYNERGY MOON

@glxp - RT @sponsorpitch: Property of the Day: Tranquility Trek to the Moon - Out of this world opportunity #GLXP #sponsorship

Also, don't miss the attached sponsorship presentation: Astrobotic Sponsorship Overview (PPT)

@ISPCS (International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight) - SPACE OPERATIONS PANEL TO EXAMINE LESSONS LEARNED, NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR INNOVATION at ISPCS 2009 -

Michael Lopez-Alegria, Assistant Director ISS, JSC will chair "A pilot’s perspective flying the new space vehicles" at ISPCS

@SpaceX_Media - Great Popular Mechanics Piece:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

NGLLC and GLXP Updates, New N-Prize team, Rhysling SF Poetry, More

Here are a few updates on some Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams:

New Sponsor: Specialty Hose! - Team Phoenicia

Rocket parts and fruit - Unreasonable Rocket

Armadillo does NG-LLC Level II rehearsal - RLV News

SCIENTISTS GO SUBORBITAL - COSMIC LOG - Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace are mentioned in the article.

This set is on, or relevant to, the Google Lunar X PRIZE:

@SoldTheMoon (David Gump) - Indications are the Augustine panel will include NASA support for private-sector robotic exploration on the Moon as a cost-cutting option.

University of Dayton Advanced Rocket Team on TV - LunaTrex on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

GLXP Team “Part Time Scientists” Talk to The Space Fellowship - The Space Fellowship

Intro to our Robot - Moon Diggers - This is on a Regolith Excavation Challenge team, but they're affiliated with or part of Google Lunar X PRIZE team Astrobotic.

Now we get to everything else!

N-Prize - The Valkyrie Federation: It's official - we are the first Canadian team who enters the N-Prize!

@ValkyrieFed - Twitter Bio: The Valkyrie Federation is a canadian (Quebec) entreprise, which has the goal of space exploration, and the lastest team on the N-Prize!

@ISPCS (International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight) - New confirmed speaker: Tim Pickens, Chief Executive Officer, Orion Propulsion

@GoZeroG - Congratulations Jessica Pestka! Winner of the ZERO-G Vault quiz for this week

Rhysling Award Winners Update - Science Fiction Awards Watch

NASA Top Stars Contest for Educators – Earn Recognition and Prizes for Lessons Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope - Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium

NASA Prize Trend?

The "Latest News" section of the NASA Centennial Challenges site has the following news:

The IPP Office is seeking new prize concept ideas from NASA and contractor employees. See instructions to submit ideas. (This Internal Call for Proposals is intended for NASA and NASA Contractor employees only.) A web survey opportunity for the general public to submit ideas is also coming soon.
› View NASA Internal Call for Prize Concept Proposals
› View NASA Call for Proposals Form

The internal call for prize concept proposals has more details on the Centennial Challenge plans:

NASA does have an important role in oversight and in formulating the challenge, reviewing rules for technical relevance and seeking opportunities with competitors for technology infusion and partnerships. We intend to enhance this NASA role in future challenges. ... One goal of this call is to identify creative and compelling prize competitions that truly address the future needs of NASA projects and programs. A second goal is to identify NASA organizations that would consider supporting such competitions in their technical formulation and in the active pursuit of opportunities for technology infusion and creation of new partnerships. ... Our intention is to pursue candidate prize competition for which there is a commitment of support from one or more NASA organizations. ... The IPP Office intends to also collect ideas for prize challenges from the general public through a web-based survey that will be located at ... This strategic planning process is already ongoing ...

The document also identifies a number of prize subject areas of special interest to Centennial Challenges.

SEND US YOUR IDEAS! - Ideas for New NASA Prize Challenges - This looks like the future location for the public prize input.

Meanwhile, reports on the following NASA Solicitation Notice: NASA JSC Solicitation Notice: Open Innovation Support Services. It looks like NASA is looking for the types of open innovation, crowdsourcing, and innovation prize management services that might be discussed at a conference like incentive2innovate. From the Notice:

NASA JSC is looking for an offeror that supports a network of experts that can facilitate solutions to a vast array of issues and challenges facing the future of human health and performance in spaceflight. Challenges are of varied type and difficulty and could include technological, biological, or human modeling needs. The potential offeror will provide NASA JSC with the methodology and infrastructure to facilitate Open Innovation within the organization and for solutions to outsourced challenges or problems. ... NASA JSC is seeking to establish initial success criteria with pilot participation of up to 6 challenges/problem statements. ... Examples of the types of challenges/problem statements considered by NASA JSC are: real time acoustic monitoring, medication and medical consumable tracking system, 02 concentrator, computer based technology that supports consistency checking for design of automated systems in the design phase, extended-life cheese product, and food packaging systems that reduce oxygen content in final package to less than 1%.

Finally, NASA recently announced the Lunabotics Mining Competition, a university student competition with a theme that is similar to that of the Regolith Excavation Challenge, one of NASA's Centennial Challenges. In fact, the Lunabotics rules haven't been posted yet, so they refer to the Regolith Excavation Challenge rules for a general idea of what to expect in the meantime. SpaceRef reports on a press release on this competition: Registration Open for NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition. From the Lunabotics page:

The purpose of the Lunabotics Mining Competition is to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, in a competitive environment that may result in innovative ideas and solutions, which could be applied to actual lunar excavation for NASA.

Lunabotics includes numerous prizes in various categories, such as the hardware competition, papers, team spirit, outreach, and cumulative score. There are various prizes, include cash, VIP launch tickets, and participating in NASA Desert RATS (NASA field work preparing for human-robotic exploration).

NASA also provides a web page for an entire Lunar Regolith Excavator Senior Design Course.

Also note:

A university faculty advisor or student team may propose up to $5,000 to support a student team to design and build a lunar regolith excavator and for travel expenses to compete in the Lunabotics Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Center in Florida the week of May 25-28, 2010.
Are these NASA moves towards innovation prizes and open innovation just isolated steps, or do they signal a general and sustained trend towards making these tools a natural part of the way NASA does business?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Prize Roundup: Google Lunar X PRIZE, MoonROx, Space Entrepreneur Meetings

There's lots about the Google Lunar X PRIZE for today's roundup:

EVA Interviews Will Pomerantz - EVA Interviews

EVA Interviews Will Pomerantz about the Google Lunar X PRIZE - Out of the Cradle - This is the actual intervew. According to the interview, we can expect interviews of the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams, too!

Interview with - White Label Space on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

@ARCAspace - Everybody from Romania, behold:, our new website describing our Google Lunar X Prize mission. English version soon:)

@OmegaEnvoy - just had a great meeting with the UCF Venture Lab to help with our business model.

@odysseymoon - resend] Odyssey Moon Chief Scientist Paul Spudis leads LRO, Chandrayaan-1 search 4 lunar water 2day

It's all about the $$FUNDING$$ and Recent interview with Space Fellowship - LunaTrex on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

Moon Base One – Base Camp – Sundown - Micro-Space on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

Here are a few items to round out the roundup:

@Pomerantz - Some #NGLLC news coming down the pipeline soon (e.g. next couple of days). Stay tuned, #NASA and #newspace fans!

First Meeting of Suborbital Researchers Group Focuses on Innovative Research & Education Missions - Commercial Spaceflight Federation - Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams are mentioned.

@PeterDiamandis - just arrived in DC on redeye. meetings for X PRIZE and Space Adventures board meeting.

having dinner with Eric Anderson, Richard Garriott and Robert Walker in DC.

@RichardGarriott - @Space Adventures BOD meeting. The future of Private Spaceflight looks bright!

@ec_anderson - About to have dinner with @peterdiamandis and @richardgarriott should be fun!

From the NASA Centennial Challenges history page:

Lunar Oxygen Production or MoonROx - Now Expired ... This first-to-demonstrate challenge expired on June 1, 2009 with no winner. The challenge had been extended by an additional year in 2008.
That's unfortunate, because ISRU of all sorts is an important "force multiplier" for ambitious space ventures. However, it does raise the question of what happens to the funds that were set aside for the MoonROx Challenge prize.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prize Roundup: SketchUp Contest, FundingPost Pitch, ChallengePost, Lunar Challenges, Elevator Update

Links: Picasa Street View, Cool Screen, ArcExplorer Earth, SketchUp Podium Prize - Google Earth Blog:

SketchUp Podium Contest Winner - SU Podium is a third-party plugin application for Google SketchUp that lets you create photo-realistic renderings from SketchUp scenes. They held a contest recently and the winner got featured in this SketchUp Blog post. Pretty cool how the winning artist created the scene.

@pkhomer (Peter Homer - "Astronaut Glove Guy") - I entered the @fundingpost Pitching Across America competition! Info at: - wish me luck!! Please RT!

@AlanStern - 1st meeting of the next-gen Suborbital Applications Researchers Group today! Wondering what Van Allen's V-2 science panel hoped for in 1946.

@wikkit (Ben Brockert of Masten Space Systems) - Static tested rev 3 aluminum engine today. Nine 4 second runs and one 20 second firing, to make sure it's working well. Ran really nice.

Armadillo's Level 2 LLC attempt coming soon? - Personal Spaceflight

Here's a look back at QuakeCon 2009, "4 Days of Peace, Love, and Rockets". You may recognize someone there in the pictures.

Another Long Day. - Unreasonable Rocket

@Bob_Richards - A group of @SingularityU students won “Best Money Making App” in Yahoo iPhoneDevCamp Hackathon - The link is to a Singularity University blog post titled "5 Tips to Winning a Hack-a-thon Competition". That post has a link to the competition itself, too.

@glxp - Kudos to Excalibur Almaz, which includes several people who work with / advise Google Lunar X PRIZE team @OdysseyMoon:

Future Visions, Near and Far Sighted - - The MoonBots competition is part of the story at NIWeek 2009.

Mark Bentley - Team Scientist of White Label Space - White Label Space

Briefs: Space elevator update; Space elevators in Japan - RLV News

Status Update, August 2009 - LaserMotive

Here's an interesting ChallengePost: SU/ISU Lunch Bot at NASA:

Design and build (for under 10^4 - $10,000) an unmanned 'lunch getter robot' than can successfully navigate the yellow line/obstacle course that joins the Arthur C Clarke hall to the Peter Diamandis Hall, collect a lunch, and return it safely and quickly to the Arthur C Clarke Hall for consumption and upload a video/photo report to the web or Youtube. The robot should be unmanned, and operate udner its own power and control without human control/intervention.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

2009 Strong Tether Competition Results

The 2009 Tether Strength Competition was held yesterday at the 2009 Space Elevator Conference. Of course there are many other potential uses for very strong tethers beyond space elevators, but the vision of the competition is the space elevator. There was one competing team, going up against the "house tether". This time the house tether won. The Space Elevator Blog has a nice 2-part summary and photo collection of the competition:

Space Elevator Games - Strong Tether competition is imminent

The 2009 Tether Competition

You can get a view of the whole conference from various twitter accounts using #SE09. Check the posts over Friday if you want to read Tether Competition content. Some prominent accounts:

@mlaine - Michael J. Laine
@jeff_foust - Jeff Foust
@spaceelevator - Space Elevator Reference - Marc Boucher
@segames - Official tweets from the Space Elevator Games

Here are some more pictures from the event:

@jeff_foust: - removing the tether from its packaging to prepare it for the competition. #SE09
2spaceelevator: Getting the Japanese tether ready for the strong tether competition #SE09
jeff_foust: - presenting the carbon nanotube tether. #SE09
@jeff_foust: - setting up a practice tether for a test. #SE09
@jeff_foust: - the aftermath of the practice tether. Waiting for the real competition to begin. #SE09
@jeff_foust: - installing the competition tether. #SE09
@jeff_foust: - tether snapped almost immediately after tension was applied. A disappointment. #SE09
@spaceelevator: The Japanese tether did not last long but Shelef says this is not a true measure of it's strength #SE09
@jeff_foust: - the tether after the competition. #SE09.

Plus, here's a video from Jeff Foust:

@jeff_foust: A brief video I shot of the tether strength challenge: #SE09

There were some other interesting tweats from the event that weren't really about the tether competition itself:

@spaceelevator: Next session is NASA Centennial Challenges with,Andrew Petro and Andrew Jones #SE09
@spaceelevator: @Doug_Comstock from @NASA is here as well. Doug is the Director of NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program. #SE09
@jeff_foust: Petro: soliciting ideas for new prize competitions within NASA now, will reach out to public "any day now". #SE09
@mlaine: Looking for new prize topics - Send your ideas! get involved if you have an idea for innovation + space. $250-2M range. #SE09

The Tether Competition isn't the only one that happened recently with a Space Elevator theme. The Space Elevator Blog reports: Results from the Japan Space Elevator Games (held by the Japan Space Elevator Association)

CNN has a review of the games and teams:

Steps toward space: This features 4 Space Elevator teams: The Kansas City Space Pirates, USST, Delta X, and LaserMotive (Delta X is a tether team; the others are beam power teams).

Space elevator chase yields Earthly rewards

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prize Roundup: Phoenicia SpeedUp Armadillo and Masten, SF Awards, ISS use, Water, HSF Committee and Commercial Space, ROBOMO, Q2C, 1 Tether Challenger

Countdown - Team Phoenicia:

We have been a little remiss is reporting our newest sponsors as of late. ... At any rate, new posts coming through!

New Sponsor: TechShop! - Team Phoenicia

8/12/2009: Burst Test, 350 psi - SpeedUp:
Two weekends ago we got out to do the burst test of the oxidizer tank. It burst on the side of the top dome section just above 350 psi, which is close to what we were expecting given the manufacturer’s original rating of 75psi operating pressure and 4x safety factor. ...
@wikkit - - New gear in progress on B, by Dread Pirate Vicegrip (@dmasten) and @drbobloblaw. - The new aluminum landing gear on XA-0.1B-750. Wider spread, and lighter weight.

Briefs: XCOR at Mojave Plane Crazy; Armadillo picts; WK2 log update - RLV News

Augustine meeting response - RLV News - There are a number of other posts there concerning the recent Augustine panel meeting, but I chose this one because it includes the following:

White House Review Committee Expresses Strong Support for Commercial Spaceflight - Commercial Spaceflight Federation (which includes the X PRIZE Foundation and several other organizations involved with prizes in one way or another)

Space Elevator Conference - First Morning - The Space Elevator Blog:
One note on the Strong Tether competition; there is only going to be one competitor this year, and yes, they have brought a carbon nanotube tether. It’s a new team, from Japan, from Shizuoka University. It will be very interesting to see what they have brought. Unfortunately (very unfortunately) the MIT/DeltaX team which competed in the last Tether competition will not be here this year. But we still will have a competition - the Japanese tether against the house tether.
ROBOMO at 2009 Missouri State Fair - ROBOMO, The St. Louis Area Robotics Group

Propose an InnoCentive Challenge and Help Change the World - Perspectives on Innovation (Innocentive):

In your opinion, what is the most pressing water-related problem affecting the developing world? If a Seeker had resources to devote, and wanted to use them specifically to solve a water-related issue in the developing world, what issue should they tackle?
Today we posted a Challenge asking just that.

ISS discussions - RLV News:

Ken Davidian is posting notes from the meeting at CSWiki (cswiki) on Twitter.

Here are a couple interesting tweats from that collection:

NASA doing what they can to provide easy, frequent, inexpensive, and return capabilities. ISS very flexible and can serve many clients.

Cost of transport needs to be supported, too. Down mass is another concern. Of 5 possible vehicles, most are 1-way tickets.

At one point, NASA Centennial Challenges was considering a Micro Reentry Vehicle Challenge (PDF) - see slide page 20. Perhaps a technology like this would help provide affordable and frequent return capabilities for space station work. The proposed Centennial Challenge took the rocket contest concept of safely landing and egg to the ultimate level: safely landing eggs from orbit. The rationale included:

•Routine ISS sample return despite constrained downmass
•Free-flying research platforms in between vomit comets and ISS
•Commercial biotech interest

I might add that it would also help chip away at the general problem of affordable and safe atmospheric reentry.

In the spirit of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, how about a 2nd level MRV prize for being able to reenter the atmosphere and land safely twice with the same vehicle!?

The Quantum to Cosmos (Q2C) festival (October 15-25, Waterloo, Ontario) includes speakers with connections to the world of space prizes like Robert Richards of Odyssey Moon, Peter Diamandis, and Michael Belfiore. It also includes other space speakers like Mike Griffin, Chris McKay, and Donna Shirley. Neal Stephenson, an SF author I recommend, is also on the schedule. That's just a sample of the many speakers.

Hugo Award Winners - Science Fiction Awards Watch: WALL-E wins "Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form".

Logo Contest Winner - The Hugo Awards

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prize Roundup - LunaTrex interview, New Scientist article, Rocket Contest, EGGsploration, TEDMED, Space Elevator, Lunar Contest updates

Rocket Contest Winners Celebrate at Astronaut Hall of Fame - Space for All

Team LunaTrex Talk to the Space Fellowship About Rockets, Rovers and GLXP Rules - The Space Fellowship

@glxp - FYI: the Space EGGsploration Challenge is coming up this weekend in Parker, CO.

RT @newscientist: Check out our piece ( & image gallery ( on the #GLXP teams' progress [Great!]

RT @spacehack: New project added to Spacehack: Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge: #spacecrafts #xprize #moon #nasa

@spacehack - New project on Spacehack: Telescope Makers' Workshop: #bayarea

Award Winning Product Designs of 2009 - Perspectives on Innovation (Innocentive):

The results of the International Design Excellence contest have just been announced. ... There are some very cool ideas represented among the winners - a cheese grater that actually collects the cheese instead of letting it spill over the countertop. A cookbook that contains tastable pages ...

I mentioned the conference and the Strong Tether Competition in my last post, but here's a better introduction:

Space Elevator Conference starts this week - Space Elevator Blog

Cool new video from the KC Space Pirates - Space Elevator Blog

Space elevator conference, competitions and resources - RLV News

2009 NewSpace Business Plan Competition winners - RLV News

@AlanStern - Commercial Spaceflight Federation Creates Advisory Panel on Suborbital Science & Research Apps:

The press release mentions some of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge competitors, as well as others with prize connections:

“The innovative vehicles being developed by a wide range of commercial suborbital companies, including Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR Aerospace, represent valuable new capability for scientists, engineers, and educators,” said Alan Stern, Chairman of SARG.

Unreasonable wiggles - RLV News

Armadillo Aerospace review - RLV News

I think you'll recognize some of the speakers here: @TEDMED - More TEDMED Speakers Announced!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Prize Roundup: Human Space Flight Plans, Snagged Elevator, T-Rex for PAXP, NASA Clickworkers, Chibots Robomagellan, MoonBot team, ARCA Plans, more

The "Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee is conducting

an independent review of ongoing U.S. human space flight plans and programs, as well as alternatives

Here is an excerpt from the slides from the Cocoa Beach, FL public meeting held on July 30:

Many tools available: straight purchase, Space Act agreements, COTS-like cost-sharing agreements, fixed-price contracts where NASA pays but contractor takes risk, prizes to get "out of the box" technologies, etc.

"Snagged again" - The Space Elevator Blog

2009 Space Elevator Conference - August 13-16, Microsoft Conference Center, Redmond, Washington. I'm not sure if any teams will be ready for the event, but here's what the conference says about it:

Tether Strength Competition - this year's conference will host the Elevator:2010 Challenge Tether Strength Competition. Tether competition team members get free admission to the conference the day of the competition (Friday, August 14th).

@ARCAspace - @mihaifanache Seriously. If not in September, then in October. Fingers crossed. Then we're aiming for the Moon in Google Lunar X Prize :)
We started our first countdown: 6 days till enlists you for the ride of your life! English version soon!

@Pomerantz -Just noticed that #NGLLC team Masten and #GLXP @TeamFREDNET had dinner together last night. Cool cross-fertilization!

Not only that, but

@teamfrednet - Fred and Wade had dinner with @dmasten last night. Rumors say it included karaoke!

Masten Space gets permit for untethered flights at Mojave - RLV News

NASA/Armadillo paper on LO2 / LCH4 engine tests - RLV News

@PeterDiamandis - success again on Rocket Racing test flights. multiple mid-air relights today. hats off to Armadillo team!

Vicki L. Sato, PhD, and David Meeker, M.D., Join Prize4Life’s Board of Directors (PDF) - Prize4Life press release

Do you want to win $30 million from Google? - BlueToothKiwi - Blog of a LEGO MINDSTORMS MCP - This is on some work by a new MoonBots team. The video from their initial prototype shows they already have the water discovery bonus prize well in hand!

Robomagellan - Chibots:

It is official, Chibots will be holding our Robomagellan contest on August 15th 2009. Set-up will be at 10:30 A.M. with the contest srtarting at 1:30 P.M. The contest will be held at Moraine Valley Community College.

Clickworkers - NASA Needs Your Help! - Perspectives on Innovation (Innocentive)
Also see HiRISE Clickworkers - Spacehack

The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE twitter had quite a few tweats recently, including:

progautoxp - This one comes with video (vroom). OptaMotive's Electric T-Rex wants a bite of the X-Prize

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Prize Roundup: MoonBots Discussions, SmallSat Conference, Orbital Depots, Tether/Elevator Book, Underwater Vehicle Winners

Check out (and join!) the following discussion in the Google Lunar X PRIZE Community Forums: MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge

MoonBots Robotics Competition Announced - Design News

This reminds me of a fun discussion from a while back on what it would take for a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robot to win the original Google Lunar X PRIZE: NXT and Lunar X PRIZE - The NXT STEP Blog

LEGO Picorover Mockup - Team FREDNET at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

The SmallSat Conference in Logan, Utah is scheduled for this August 10-13. On Wednesday, Google Lunar X PRIZE preferred partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will present "Falcon 1 Flight Results and Multiple Payload Integration". In addition, Wednesday also includes the Frank J. Redd Student Scholarship Competition.

A Summer CubeSat Developers' Workshop will also be held there August 8-9. Here's the schedule (PDF). Google Lunar X PRIZE preferred partner Analytical Graphics, Inc. has a talk on Saturday titled "STK and CubeSat's". In addition, Randa Milliron of Interorbital Systems, a part of the SYNERGY MOON Google Lunar X PRIZE team, has a talk on Sunday on "TubeSat".

These are just samples of the diverse presentations in this dynamic and important field.

A team including Jon Goff of Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenger Masten Space Systems recently submitted a white paper on Depot-Centric Human Spaceflight to the "Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee". From the Executive Summary of the paper:

On-orbit storage and transfer of propellants are key capabilities that enable innovative transportation methods for multiple destinations beyond earth orbit, stimulate the commercial spaceflight industry, and allow for sustainable and affordable manned exploration beyond LEO using existing commercial launch vehicles. We find reason to believe that a depot-centric transportation approach will allow NASA’s manned space program to operate in a manner that is exceptionally responsive to the objectives given the Augustine Committee.
Prizes are briefly mentioned in the paper:

A depot-centric transportation network enables and encourages the development of an open architecture—one that multiple commercial and international entities can easily interact with and that is not tied to any one specific destination. ... We can further multiply this effect through the use of prizes and COTS-like programs, as well as more traditional SBIR and Broad Area Announcement solicitations.
At one point, NASA Centennial Challenges was considering a Fuel Depot Demonstration Challenge (PDF) - see slide page 18.

The Space Elevator Games are briefly mentioned in this article: Seeking 'Discouraged' Energy Questers - Dot Earth (The New York Times)

Space Tethers and Space Elevators - The Space Elevator Blog
Review: Space Tethers and Space Elevators - The Space Review - These discuss a new book by Michel Van Pelt on subjects relevant to the Space Elevator Games.

@ - Breakfast with TedPrize Winner Jill Tarter b4 her #ISU talk. Would love to see her Wish come true

Here's some information about the recent Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition - which means "no remote controls". The competition was held in San Diego a few days ago.

12th Annual International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition - Go

CUAUV - Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle blog - the 2009 winners

Cornell Wins the 12th Annual Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition - Go

UCF/IST Submersible Team Gets 4th Place - UCF Today (University of Central Florida)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

EAA AirVenture 2009

What was I doing during that long break in posting? I took a week off to visit family. Most of it didn't concern prizes, but to some extent one day did. You can see more about that day here:

A Look Back at Oshkosh 2009 - The Launch Pad

This also covers some of the events that had already happened at the show by the time I'd arrived.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Space Prize Roundup: Elevator Postponed, GLXP LEGO MoonBots, NASA Lunabotics Mining, Conrad Award & AIAA, AUVSI, Apophis Round 2?, NGLLC, GLXP

Here are a few items that happened while I was away:

Space Elevator Contest Held Up - Aviation Week - A technical issue with a helicopter cable system is forcing the Spaceward Foundation to postpone the Space Elevator Power Beaming Challenge Games originally scheduled for this summer at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. ... the problems cropped up during tests of the helicopter-mounted cable system last week.

Review: Space Tethers and Space Elevators - The Space Review (article by Jeff Foust)

Some Regolith Excavation team updates... - Green Cheese Solutions - This post mentions updates from Team Waldbaum, SpaceMiners, and Terra Engineering, which plans to test the BFD (Big Freewheeling Bigger) this upcoming weekend.

@Regolith_Chal - Posted a diagram for the provided communications link, check the FAQ for details.

NASA Announces Lunar Exploration Competition for Students - SpaceRef

NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition - The Lunabotics Mining Competition will be similar to the Regolith Excavation Challenge NASA Centennial Challenge.

Announcing Our 5th Payload, a British Science Instrument... - Odyssey Moon on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site - Moonlink has signed up with the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) to set aside one kilogram of payload capacity on Odyssey Moon’s “MoonOne” lunar lander, to be launched to the Moon in late 2012. Moonlink will be heading up a county wide competition driving innovation in schools, universities, and local industry in the form of a competition to design, build, and fly an experiment to the Moon.

Looking Back, Hopping Forward - Draper Laboratory showcases Google Lunar X-Prize project at Apollo celebration. - MIT Technology Review

NEO News (07/30/09) Impact on Jupiter - Planetary Defense - The prize part of this post is from the Planetary Society. Here's an excerpt: Apophis Mission Design Competition: Last year's successful competition designed ways to tag and track this asteroid. The next step might be to design a mission to send human investigators to explore and characterize a threatening object, such as Apophis.

“Moonbots” Challenges Parent-Child Teams to Conduct Google Lunar X Prize Missions With Lego Robots - Press release from the X PRIZE Foundation - The X PRIZE Foundation, Google Inc., LEGO Systems, National Instruments, and Wired’s GeekDad will announce “MoonBots: A Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Challenge” today at National Instruments NIWeek 2009. The new contest will challenge small teams comprised of children and adults to design, program, and construct robots that perform simulated lunar missions similar to those required to win the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE ...The competition will encourage the participants to use free software tools such as Google’s SketchUp, LEGO’s Digital Designer, National Instruments LabVIEW, and Google’s YouTube platform to delineate how their entry will be constructed and how their team will function. - for upcoming information on the competition

@MoonBots - twitter

Enter This Contest and Race to the Moon - GeekDad

AUVSI 2009 International Aerial Robotics Competition Videos and JAUS - I Heart Robotics

SMCPS Receives $100,000 Stem Grant - Southern Maryland Online - The elementary "STEM for ALL" portion of the grant will provide all elementary schools with LEGO Robotics Kits and the resources necessary to offer all interested students a chance to participate on a robotics team at their school. Additionally, an engineering challenge will be designed integrating concepts from the science and mathematics curriculum for third grade students. ... For the STEM 10 engineering course, funds will be used to allow students to participate and compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge and the Botball Educational Robotics program.

Government Prize Money for Smart Ideas and Technology - - This post points out the following report: Federally Funded Innovation Inducement Prizes (by Deborah D. Stine, Congressional Research Service) (PDF)

Conrad Foundation Announces AIAA As The Official Aerospace Partner Of The 2010 Pete Conrad Spirit Of Innovation Awards - California Space Authority

Masten Space test flights video - RLV News

From Unreasonable Rocket:

Observations from the fireing
This camera gave its life to provide you with this video