Here's an excerpt from the 2011 Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill report (PDF):
Promoting STEM Education Through Competition.—The future of U.S. competitiveness rests on our ability to train the next generation of scientists and engineers. The Committee has acted on the ‘‘Rising Above the Gathering Storm’’ recommendation to improve K–12 STEM education by robustly funding the National Science Foundation and other science agencies. The Committee also recognizes the important contributions of groups and organizations that have developed nationwide STEM robotics competitions to inspire and train America’s students. The Committee directs NSF to set aside $2,000,000 for a competitive program of grants to promote STEM education through robotics competitions.
BLOG: Update on the NASA Authorization Bill - The Planetary Society - The reason that I included this here is that there's an interesting hint about a possible new Planetary Society prize at the end of the post:
A big first step will be consideration of the human asteroid mission. The Planetary Society will be participating in an upcoming NASA workshop on this subject, and we're getting ready to announce a new competition to advance the concept of humans exploring an asteroid. So stay tuned!
More Masten Space pictures
A brief glimpse of leg at Masten Space
Armadillo Aerospace flies Pixel - all 3 from RLV News
ISEC e-Newsletter #6 - August 2010 - International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) - This newsletter has a lot of information about Space Elevator Games Centennial Challenges and other prizes. Here are some excerpts, but the newsletter has many more details:
The Climber / Power-Beaming competition has been postponed until next year. ... The Strong Tether competition will be held at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference. The current schedule calls for this competition to be held on Friday, August 13th, at 4:15pm (US Pacific time) ...
In March, the International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) announced the Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson Prizes for Space Elevator research. ... the prize committee did not feel that any of them met the criteria; ... the prize committee did award an "Honorable Mention" to a paper submitted by Mr. Gaylen R. Hinton and he and his entry will be honored at the upcoming Space Elevator Conference. These prizes will be repeated next year. A new topic will be chosen for ... the Pearson prize ...
From August 6th-8th, the Japan Space Elevator Association (JSEA) will host it's second annual JSETEC (Japan Space Elevator Technical & Engineering Competition) event. ... The 2009 competition was held on a 150 meter tether. This year's competition will be held on a 300 meter tether. Next year, they plan on using a 600 meter tether. But, unlike the Space Elevator Games, they plan on holding the tether aloft with balloons, not a helicopter.
NASA Centennial Challenges 2010 Strong Tether Challenge - SpaceRef
Astrobotic designs excavator to recover lunar volatiles - Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page
NASA Seeks Data from Innovative Lunar Demonstrations - NASA:
NASA has issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to purchase specific data resulting from industry efforts to test and verify vehicle capabilities through demonstrations of small robotic landers. The purpose is to inform the development of future human and robotic lander vehicles. ... The ILDD BAA challenges industry to demonstrate Earth-to-lunar surface flight system capabilities and test technologies.
Astrobotic to pursue NASA data purchase offer - RLV News
First Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prizes Announced At AirVenture - Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) - You can find out about this year's prizes at the link. There is also some information about next year's prizes:
LEAP announced that in 2011, LEAP prizes will be awarded at Aero-Friedrichschafen in Germany as well as at AirVenture.
Fueling Innovation (100 MPGe at a time) - Energy Blog (Department of Energy)
See much, much more about the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE here.
And the winner is… Offering a cash prize to encourage innovation is all the rage. Sometimes it works rather well - The Economist