Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prize Roundup: Best Ideas, Google Earth Climate Change, Michigan Tech Nanosat Team, Heinlein SF Award, More

Climate change tools for Google Earth - Google Earth Blog:

... In addition, they're asking you to submit your own thoughts and questions on climate change to their channel, and some of these videos will be broadcast on screens around the conference in December. The top rated video submissions will win a trip to Copenhagen, so submit your videos and see if you can win the prize.

To the Moon, Rover! - UCF Today

Seems like yesterday... - RLV News on an important anniversary

New USST Video on YouTube - The Space Elevator Blog

Ten Best New Space Ideas - Matt Wronkiewicz's Weblog - Number 8 is X PRIZEs.

InnoCentive ~ Innovation Marketplace For Ideas - Maximizing Progress

Tech Tour Day Three: A Tour De Force At MTU - WWJ News Radio:

... I met with four members of the Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise team, who are designing a small Earth satellite that will help authorities track dangerous space junk. ... the Aerospace Enterprise is competing in the United States Air Force's Nanosatellite competition. The program has 11 student teams around the country design a small, affordable satellite with space-to-space imaging that will track other satellites and space debris, as well as contain a model to calibrate the ground-based telescopes that monitor space junk. ... The Aerospace Enterprise is also working on the High Altitude Autonomous Research Platform, an autonomous glider designed to take pictures up to 35,000 feet, and the Cansat Project, a university competition that sees the students design and build a rocket payload that must return to earth at a determined speed, right itself once it lands, and transmit data all the while.

Here's a link to the MTU Aerospace Enterprise team, and here's one for the University Nanosatellite Program

Space Tourism - Taking Off? - The National Space Society of Phoenix

BSFS Heinlein Award - Science Fiction Awards Watch: The winners of the 2009 BSFS Robert. A Heinlein Award are Joe Haldeman and John Varley.

Also see posts on the same topic from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and Locus. As Locus notes: The award is for "outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings to inspire the human exploration of space."

@planetarytv - I uploaded a YouTube video -- PTV - Team America Rocketry Challenge 2010 http://bit.ly/1PnXHo

An Update on Design Judging - X PRIZE Cars

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - TEMPO3 Balloon test, Space Show, Climber test, DARPA audio book, sand and water, more

I've been away for 10 or so days, and I don't have a realistic chance to catch up on all of the space prize activity that's happened over that time, but here are some recent items:

@spaceshow - Conrad Foundation high school Award winners are on The Space Show today, 12-1:30 PM PDT. Listen at www.thespaceshow.com.

@tempo3 (Mars Society project contest winner) - Balloon launch day! Late night last night, but we're ready to head out this morning for an 11AM launch.

... (see the linked twitter account for intervening tweets) ...

Balloon flight over. Results unsuccessful. Problem most likely at interface between balloon and gondola. Hardware recovered. Reflt poss

Stratofox remote support for Mars Society TEMPO3 balloon, September 26, 2009 - This includes numerous updates, several pictures, and a summary.

@ikluft also has some twitter updates from the Stratofox side.

WHAT IS "COMMERCIAL SPACE"? - Ken Davidian (former NASA Centennial Challenges manager) on the Commercial Space Wiki

@spacehack - NASA needs ideas from you for new prize challenges: http://is.gd/3FXyj (thx @doug_comstock). Spacehack has a few up at http://is.gd/3FXDo

The MiniSpaceWorld Design Contest has extended its deadline to November 1: http://bit.ly/29NJSM

It's a wrap for DARPA audio book - Dispatches from the Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore) - ... My director, David Rapkin, seemed particularly taken with the chapter on the Urban Challenge, DARPA's autonomous vehicle race. ...

DARPA/EERC green jet fuel wins Popular Science Best of What's New - Dispatches from the Final Frontier

Spirit of the Competition - BFD (Big Freewheeling Digger, a Regolith Excavation Challenge team)

@paulsrobotics (Regolith Excavation Challenge team) - Just bought 250 dollars worth of sand, also known as 5000 lbs. Yeah. ... Lots of sand, 4 more like this http://yfrog.com/0g5x7pj

Moonraker Robot from Paul’s Robotics to Compete in 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge - press release on PRLog

Next Space Elevator Games testing coming up - The Space Elevator Blog posts an email from the Kansas City Space Pirates

@lasermotive (Beam Power team) - We're ready for the 5,000' helicopter test tomorrow. Hopefully it will go as well as the 1,000' test did!

... (see the linked twitter account for intervening tweets on the testing, which also included 2 other teams, USST and Kansas City Space Pirates) ...

Done testing for the day. All of our tests were successful.

Gold Rush on the Moon - Peter Diamandis at the Huffington Post - This discusses the recent announcement on water on the Moon and the role Google Lunar X PRIZE teams might play as prospectors. It also looks ahead to more data - this time from the LCROSS impact.

In the comments, Google Lunar X PRIZE team NextGiantLeap notes:

The recent findings seem to indicate that hydrogen from the sun is bonding with oxygen on the lunar surface to form trace amounts of H2O and HO. These findings also seem to indicate that some process, perhaps solar wind, is causing these atoms to migrate towards the poles. If this water has been accumulating in permanently shadowed craters near the poles for millions of years, there could be a lot of water available there!

Here are a couple eyebrow-raising tweets from a Google Lunar X PRIZE team:

@odysseymoon - @scibuff The other shoe(s) will drop when Paul Spudis releases his min-SAR discoveries from LRO & Chandrayaan. LCROSS will be the slam-dunk.

@bob_richards - @danzi94 We hope the news of the UK student competition will come out soon. Watch the ISSET website http://bit.ly/vDCZa

The Importance of Lunar Water - Dennis Wingo at SpaceRef briefly mentions the Google Lunar X PRIZE in this article. Part of the article concerns a choice between surface robotics at the Moon or Mars. I don't have a preference one way or the other; I think we can and should do both. To be able to afford that, I suspect we need many smaller landers at both the Moon and Mars, with a bias towards incremental improvements rather than starting from scratch each mission.

@airshipz - The Airship Z Prize has a couple posts that aren't on their proposed prize, but are about interesting airship news:

Airships to the Arctic ~ Oct 7-9th Calgary, Alberta www.airshipstothearctic.com Also, link to article on event from WIRED http://ow.ly/r4YC

Dynalifter airship goes where trucks can't http://ow.ly/rhVF 1,000-ft airship will be able to haul 250 tons & take 100's of workers to build

@fineri (N-Prize team) - Got a 4" dia slab of round aluminium bar toady, so the lathe and I are going to get intimate over the next week or so!......

http://twitpic.com/j6anx - Nose cone making, with a road cone!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Pause

I have a number of family events going on this week, so I probably won't be posting, or even getting on a computer, much at all. I took a quick skim of Space Transport News (RLV News), and I see plenty of prize news over there (a newly registered Google Lunar X PRIZE team Selenokhod, lots of Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge updates, and more).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lunar Lander Contest Continues, Commercial Lunar, Regolith Teams Tally, Lunar Art and Design, More

I've been covering space prizes for a bit over 3 years now. One of the tools I've used from the beginning is an automated internet search for new information on space prizes. In those 3 years I've never seen anything like the flood of media articles and blog updates on the exciting recent Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge flights by Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace. I'm not going to attempt to round up all of that; you can see the results so far at places like The Launch Pad and RLV News. Don't forget that the competition is still going strong:

@unrocket - Son is cooking catalyst disks, I just finished the software for the gimbal controls. Should be ready to test the silver ball on Sat!

Static first then maybe monoprop flight.

Up and starting the 20 hr day....

Decadal Survey: 29 Lunar White Papers - Spaceports covers the LEAG (Lunar Exploration Analysis Group) list of white papers for lunar science, and suggests these might be of interest to Google Lunar X PRIZE teams. Here's one of the white papers:

Proposal for a Lunar Exploration/Science Campaign: A commercially‐leveraged, science‐focused, lunar exploration program (PDF) - Robert M. Kelso

@regolith_chal - Early count puts number of teams at about 20. Full roster will be posted later this week.

Super busy day with registration processing. Getting ready for team documentation deadline tonight.

@paulsrobotics - Just machined the digger final drive sprocket. http://yfrog.com/0htdbefj came out well

2009-2010 Life and Work on the Moon Art and Design Contest (9-12, Higher Ed) - Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium

Here are the 2009 winners.

@tedprize - Updates on Jill Tarter's wish - http://bit.ly/6JsXn and http://bit.ly/13ZAl1

Kids Win National Rocket Contest and Need Your Help! - Space for All

Vomitrocious Climber Video - LaserMotive

Space Elevator Games - testing updates - Space Elevator Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Now It's Masten's Turn

First Masten free flight; NG-LLC Level I attempt on Wed. - RLV News

Briefs: Masten NGLLC Level I flights; Level II lunar pad; Start of something big; - RLV News - In addition to other links, this one has a number of twitter accounts to follow. From that list, I have the Masten ones on the right-hand green panel at Space Prizes Twitter, but as I've mentioned before the panel only keeps the latest couple posts from each twitter account, and it tends to not like lots of refreshes. I do notice from that panel that NASA Centennial Challenges twitter is also there:

@NASAPrize: up early for Masten team lunar lander challenge flight attempt today

The X PRIZE folks are also there (and on that flaky panel) with Twitter:

@NGLLC09 - X PRIZE crew has arrived in Mojave! Now to get a few hours of sleep b4 the safety briefing at 5:30am PST tmrw. Pleasant dreams of Xombies...

@alias_amanda: In Mojave with @nickyjor for the Masten flights tmrw morning. Flights at 7am PST, I'll be live tweeting the events at @NGLLC09!

On the other, general space panel I have Robin Snelson's twitter account, the other account from the RLV News list. That panel also has

@jeff_foust - Up very early this morning to drive up to Mojave to see Masten's #NGLLC Level 1 attempt. More exciting than a Congressional hearing, right?

As for me, I'll be working, so I won't be posting on the attempt. Check RLV News and sites listed in those links above, and also the twitter accounts listed there and here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Armadillo Lunar Success, Powering Beaming Prep, LEGO, Mars Rover Challenge, Lunar X PRIZE, Dutch CanSat, RegEx and N-Prize Videos

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Of course you've heard the big news on Armadillo's flights this weekend:

Armadillo Aerospace did it! - RLV News
Armadillo flight video - RLV News
Dramatic photos from Caddo Mills - RLV News (go to full screen size for these pictures!)

Other teams are also busy:

@mojaverocketguy - Spent most of the day out in the desert helping fly a Xombie. Making progress, but Murphy is extracting his pound of flesh along the way.

@wikkit - The team got in one flight today, again taking off from the ground and landing on the ground. Again on tether. More flights every day.

@http://twitpic.com/heg91 - Did you know that you can make bubbles of molten concrete?

@unrocket - Getting ready to go out to FAR tonight. We will try to teter hover the blue ball for 90 seconds some time Sunday Morning.

At far all nonhazardous setup complete. 87F gusting to30mph humuidity < 20 %

Blue ball 106 sec stable tethered hover!!!

@NGLLC09 - Direct quote from Armadillo's Neil Milburn: "Go, Xombie, go!" Good luck, Masten and Unreasonable!

Space Elevator Games

Climber / Power-Beaming update - The Space Elevator Blog

Quick update - The Space Elevator Blog - A test of the new helicopter/tether scheme was successful, allowing additional steps to be taken towards the Power Beaming competition itself.

Helicopter Testing, Version 2 - LaserMotive - This includes a number of pictures of the testing.

Here's the LaserMotive twitter account.  I added this to the twitter list and latest tweets panel.

Power Beaming Challenge update - RLV News - This also includes a picture of the testing.

Gallery of Photos from 2009 Tether Challenge - NASA Centennial Challenges

Student Competitions

Mars Society opens University Rover Challenge 2010 - Space for All - The 2010 competition includes 2 new rover jobs: Equipment Servicing and Sample Return.

Spacegirls present extraordinary space project at ASTRON - ASTRON - Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy posts about the winners of the Dutch CanSat competition

Since the MoonBots competition involves LEGO, I thought I'd pass along the following post from Maximizing Progress: Beyond The Brick ~ LEGO Toys Renaissance!

Google Lunar X PRIZE

The next 3 are from the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page:

Upcoming AIAA Space 2009 Conference - Next Giant Leap will be at the conference

The GLXP Panorama in One Shot - White Label Space on a camera with a curved mirror



@fineri - Successfull Igniter test tonight, had flames, yay!! this is my first bi-prop i guess you could say! video soon....

http://twitpic.com/hjrb7 - Igniter V1.5 test from last night, still from video.

Video of 2nd igniter test, V1.5, http://bit.ly/3U8Bmm

Regolith Excavation Challenge

@paulsrobotics - http://yfrog.com/0b4gpbj


I uploaded a YouTube video -- Moonraker - First Dig Test http://bit.ly/6Fb6e

@Regolith_Chal - The FAQ has been updated. Posted some new info about the comm link and other info.

For those wondering: revisions to the FAQ can be viewed if you log in.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Armadillo Lunar Lander Weekend

This may be the Space Prizes blog, and this is a big Space Prize weekend for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, but there's no way with dad activities I can keep you up to date with the action as reported by The Launch Pad (numerous posts), Cosmic Log, RLV News (numerous posts), News Scientist, and others.  Check out those links for the background and latest news on the attempt.  It looks like it's happening right now in a break in the weather.  The Launch Pad also notes many twitter accounts that are active and at the site in this post.  I have many of these accounts in the "Space Prizes Tweets" on the right side panel here - but you only get the most recent couple posts from each account, the panel takes a while to pop up, and it doesn't like refreshes (and with this event to keep up to date you will want to refresh).

Note: I also just added unrocket (Unreasonable Rocket twitter) to both the twitter list and tweet panel.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Twitter Admin

I started a new blog Space Prizes Twitter to help me keep up with that medium. I don't plan to treat it like a regular blog. The main point at the moment appears on the right side panel - a widget to show tweets from some space prize twitter accounts.  I did something similar for some other space twitter accounts on a blog I haven't updated in a while, Space Applications.  The most recent tweets are on the top, but each account gets a fixed number of entries.  Note: the widget seems to have trouble for a while after being used a couple times.  That's tolerable for my anticipated use, but it may make it useless for you. We'll see how it goes.

I also put the Twitter List on the new blog; I expect to only keep that one up to date, rather than the old Twitter List post on the Space Prizes blog.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bolden on Education (and Student Competitions), Nancy Conrad, Lunar Robot COTS Idea, ARCA Press Conference, New Regolith Team, Lunar Lander Prep

Briefs: NG-LLC on Facebook, Twitter; Armadillo lands on lunar pad; MSS and BonNova testing - RLV News

@Regolith_Chal - A family team near Kennedy Space Center announces intent to enter the Regolith Challenge: http://attilarobot.com/

@glxp - Nancy Conrad, Founder /CEO Conrad Foundation, will be speaking live in 15 min. (3pm PDT): http://bit.ly/4Kr9f

Mission 3 press conference - ARCA on Google Lunar X PRIZE blog

"COTS-like”: the future of space procurement - The Space Review - From the article:

As USAF Colonel Peter Garretson observed in a recent article, “The most important and transformational program at NASA is not Constellation, but rather COTS [Commercial Orbital Transportation Services] and its innovative partnership and prize programs, which are focused on a meaningful and more important sustainable expansion of viable American capabilities.”  ... Candidate developments for future COTS-like procurements ... Lunar reconnaissance landers (~100 kilogram-class):  ... Over a dozen teams are currently competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE to land 10 kilogram-class landers on the Moon. An astonishing amount of utility can be packaged on a lander of this scale. The 100 kilogram-class offers greater capabilities that could prove immensely useful to the Constellation program in performing precursor science, landing site selection and reconnaissance, infrastructure such as navigation and communications aids, and in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) demonstrations to support human exploration.

Most-precious resource for NASA: Next generation - Orlando Sentinel (link via NASA Watch) - From the article by the NASA Administrator:
We can continue to inspire the next generation of NASA scientists and engineers by holding more competitions to help high-school and college students turn their creative talents to exploring our planet, solar system and galaxy; ensuring more government scientists and engineers are mentoring and tutoring in classrooms; offering more incentives for private-sector innovators to add value to NASA's special resources; and continuing to use our growing familiarity with space to understand and protect our home planet.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Weekend Roundup: Weekend NGLLC Work by Masten and Unreasonable, Teaching with Contests, Robot SBIR, Heinlein Award Stories, More

Unreasonable plans -
Unreasonable update - RLV News on Unreasonable plans for the weekend, and on the good and bad things that happened

Briefs: X PRIZE history and status; More Hare raising concepts - RLV News links to a Wired UK article on the X PRIZEs

Teaching with Contests.com - This site has a lot of student and teacher prize content in all sorts of fields. Here are a few recent ones with space/science/technology themes:

750 Student Teams Wanted for World’s Largest Rocket Competition
ExploraVision Contest 2010 OPEN
NASA needs you! Apply today to become one of the new Solar System Ambassadors.

Heinlein Society Short Story Contest Winners - Science Fiction Awards Watch

Google Lunar X Prize Moonpie Winners - AstroTwitter

Here are some twitter updates:

@ARCAspace - Asociatia Romana pentru Cosmonautica si Aeronautica - ARCA anunta LANSAREA RACHETEI HELEN, PRIMA RACHETA SPATIALA ... http://bit.ly/1bifRh

@OmegaEnvoy - RT @4frontiers: Just submitted a NASA Phase 1 SBIR proposal on the usage of multi-touch surfaces to control robots. Wish us luck!

@wikkit - We dropped the rocket a few times, we came up with a solid theory on what's been going wrong; it's the best Monday in weeks.

@fineri - Igniter Test,http://bit.ly/8Je7r ,faster pulse on plug/use glow plug and smaller fuel/ox oriffices needed..V1.5 soon!

@ValkyrieFed - The Valkyrie Federation will be going to the Twestival local in Montreal: http://headandhands.ca/

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Panoramio Winners, SpaceX OrbComm and Next Giant Leap, regolith simulant, lunar SBIRS, Garver at ISPCS, TARC open, Phoenicia Art

Links: New Earth API Docs, Fire Shot, Where 2.0, Panoramio Winners, New SketchUp, Belgrade News - Google Earth Blog - This includes a link to the June 2009 Panoramio Geotagged Photo Contest Winners. As usual, I like to pick one that strikes me as having a "space feeling" in one way or another, and that's the one you see here. Follow the link to see expanded views of all of the pictures and their locations in Google Earth/Google Maps.


@NextGiantLeap - Orbcomm deal to buy 18 Falcon 1e launches finalized http://bit.ly/1ae6bb

NGL partner Sierra Nevada Corp is building the Orbcomm Gen2 satellites. NGL lander based on Orbcomm bus.

@Regolith_Chal - The regolith simulant testbed was installed yesterday, doing some finishing touches today.

@glxp - Do want: my own lunar sandbox. Turns out you can buy lunar/Mars simulant here: http://bit.ly/fTqO2

@SoldTheMoon - I'm locked to the keyboard prepping SBIRs. NASA deadline is Thursday. Exploring lava tubes, rugged drive trains.. all great!

Surge effort by Alex Gutierrez and our CMU friends resulted in six SBIR/STTR submissions to NASA this afternoon; winners named in Nov.

@ISPCS - Just confirmed- Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator, NASA, will speak at lunch on October 22 during ISPCS

@wikkit - I ran into Scott Zeeb of TrueZer0 at the donut shop this morning. He said he's making progress on their new biprop engine design

Team America Rocketry Challenge Registration Opens - Rocketry Online

My weekend with the Stainless Bully... - Unreasonable Rocket

Here are several updates on fundraising and team goals from Team Phoenicia:

An Artful Lift-off: A Offer of Help
A Second Artful Offer
Should We Stay or Should We Go Now? (in reference to next February's Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Boulder, Colorado)
More Tank Yous

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Space Prize Roundup: Rover Naming, Phoenicia Fundraising, Skywalker Ranch and Fire Pix, White Label Partner, Regolith Roundup

RLV News (Space Transport News at HobbySpace) has been covering a lot of space prize developments over the last few days. Here they are:

Briefs: N-Prize update; Lunar science interest - This one covers 2 new N-Prize teams: The Valkyrie Federation (which I mentioned recently) and Thomas Space Corp.

Briefs: GLXP updates; Finding sponsors; Tech prizes - This one features Team Phoenicia and Odyssey Moon, with a brief mention of the Mars Society University Rover Challenge in one of the articles. (Note from the URC site: Stay tuned for the release of the 2010 URC rules - Coming soon!).

Briefs: Team Phoenicia & NG-LLC; Rocket concepts - This covers Team Phoenicia's offer to sell tattoo space on their vehicle for $10 per square centimeter to help them raise the lunar prize funds they need.

White Label Space gets new partner - In addition to the new partner AOES, you can read about the other world-spanning White Label Space partners in their press release.

Beam propulsion update - This one includes a discussion of Beam Power Competition team LaserMotive.

Now here are a few prize updates from other sources:

More updates, photos and videos from Regolith Excavation teams - Green Cheese Solutions covers all sorts of recent activity in the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge. This includes team posts, slide shows, chats, videos, twitter updates, and more. One of the teams, BFD, plans another day of testing at Dockweiler State Beach (near any other notable space prize locations?) at ~11am on Friday (September 4) - it's only Tuesday and Friday is already looking like a Fun Day!

Communications Setup Details - Regolith Excavation Challenge - This gives a bit more background on one of the items noted by Green Cheese Solutions.

@wikkit (Ben Brockert of Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge team Masten Space Systems) - http://twitpic.com/fy04j - The three fires visible from Mojave. Both photos are 40 second exposures at night.

@Bob_Richards - Horsing around at Skywalker Ranch http://twitgoo.com/2tg7b #SingularityU BBQ tonight.

@OmegaEnvoy - With the Rover Naming Contest coming to an end today check out the latest submission by @jasontweets: http://bit.ly/wXCdI

Take a look at the latest submission to the Rover Naming Contest, great name!
#GLXP http://bit.ly/15LIut

Videos from Japan’s first Space Elevator Games - Space Elevator Blog

ALS Patient Stephen Hawking Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom - Prize4Life