Saturday, May 26, 2012

Space Prize Roundup: University Rover Challenge, Space Apps, CanSat, High Altitude Astrobiology, More

The University Rover Challenge is scheduled to start on May 31.  You can find a lot more information on the URC Teams page, which links to the sites for all of the teams.  Google Lunar X PRIZE team JURBAN is one of the teams through Johns Hopkins University.

Kevin Sloan interview on the University Rover Challenge - The Space Show

OSTP Sees NASA As Leader In Offering Prizes - NASA Watch

The 6 Space App Challenge winners that want to change the world -

Announcing the Opening of the 2012 Humans in Space Youth Art Competition: Winners' Artwork to be Displayed and Performed Worldwide - SpaceRef - See HumansInSpaceArt on Facebook
for examples of the artwork, presumably from previous years' competitions.

5/12/2012: Laramie Rose Free Flight - SpeedUp - I didn't write up the SpeedUp presentation at Space Access because I missed it when there was a change in the schedule there, so I'm glad to be able to link to this.

AISR CanSat Competition - Nina Markham on YouTube

Masten Space fires new Katana engine - RLV News

Briefs: Jordin Kare interview; KSC master plan - RLV News

Citizens in Space opens High Altitude Astrobiology Challenge - RLV News

XCOR announces Lynx suborbital flight winner - RLV News

2011 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court competition finals - Space for All

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

X PRIZE Foundation Roundup: GLXP at GLEX, MoonBots 2012, Visioneering, Fighting Poverty, Lyme Diagnostics Tool

The X PRIZE Foundation has been quite active lately in the field of space prizes and other fields:

Tiptoeing back to the Moon - Jeff Foust at The Space Review gives an update on the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition.  Here is something to look forward to over the next few days:

The competition will be back in the spotlight somewhat this week with a joint NASA/GLXP announcement scheduled for Thursday morning during the Global Space Exploration (GLEX) conference in Washington, DC. The International Space Development Conference (ISDC), immediately following the GLEX conference in Washington, will also feature presentations about the competition.

According to Global Space Exploration Conference in Washington DC (from SpaceRef), the announcement schedule is

9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.: NASA and Google Lunar X Prize Announcement, Grand Ballroom

Check the link for the times for the other Google Lunar X PRIZE activity at the GLEX conference, too.

MoonBots 2012 is Officially Open for Registration! - Leo Camacho at the Staff Blog

Engagement + Innovation = Visioneering 2012 - Peter Diamandis

Robin Hood Joins X PRIZE Foundation to Battle Poverty Worldwide - X PRIZE Foundation:

By engaging entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world in a series of global incentivized competitions, the two organizations aim to discover effective solutions to some of the most crippling aspects of poverty.  These competitions will be the first of their kind designed specifically to battle poverty the world over. By offering a substantial prize and soliciting crowd-sourced solutions from around the globe, Robin Hood and X PRIZE hope to identify new approaches to battling poverty that can be put to the test via pilot programs in New York City.

Robin Hood Raises $57 Million to Fight Poverty in New York City: Announces Partnership with X PRIZE Foundation to Fund Global Poverty Solutions - X PRIZE Foundation press release:

By offering a substantial prize of at least $1 million and soliciting crowd-sourced solutions from teams and individuals around the globe, Robin Hood and the X PRIZE Foundation hope to identify effective new approaches to fighting poverty that can be put to the test via X PRIZEs in New York City with clear, measurable goals. ... In addition to the $19 million raised to fund the Robin Hood X PRIZE, Robin Hood also raised more than $38 million to fund its day-to-day poverty-fighting programs throughout New York City.

Tick-Borne Disease Alliance and X PRIZE Foundation Create “TBDA Diagnostic X PRIZE” Global Competition to Develop Fail-Safe Diagnostic Tool for Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases - X PRIZE Foundation press release

From X PRIZE Foundation on Facebook:

We’re ramping up for another groundbreaking Life Sciences competition – this one is all about digital healthcare. We’ll be unveiling it on Thursday, May 24 at 9:40 a.m. PT. Tune in to a live webcast right here!

Congratulations to SpaceX on the Falcon 9 launch of the Dragon spacecraft!

Congratulations SpaceX and Elon Musk! - The Heinlein Prize Trust

2012 Lunabotics In Progress

The Lunabotics competition, similar to the Regolith Excavation Challenge but specifically for university students, is now in progress (May 21-26).  This was a lucky schedule for teams that wanted to see the Falcon 9/Dragon launch.  Current activities include inspections and practice in the sand pit.  The official competition starts today at 2:00 KSC time.  There are activities for K-12 students like working on LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robots, college recruitment for high school students, FIRST robot displays, and more.

Practice Day 1: Lunabotics Mining Competition
Practice Day 2: Lunabotics Mining Competition - lots of pictures from NASA Lunabotics Facebook

The teams are already sending out a flood of twitter tweets.  You can follow them (or the ones I found a few weeks ago) on my Lunabotics twitter list or use hashtag #lunaboticsNASA Edge is supposed to start broadcasting from the event today at 12:00.

Lunabotics is a great example of a NASA Centennial Challenge that successfully transitioned to a student competition after the original Centennial Challenge completed.  I wonder if any other Centennial Challenges will be able to make this transition?  The Sample Return Challenge strikes me as one that would be likely to work in some form this way, since student competitions are well established in the area of robotics.  For example, WPI, which is running the Sample Return Challenge, is also involved with FIRST robotics.  The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge always struck me as a difficult one to form into a student challenge, but maybe with the Masten GN&C testbed, teams could test landing software for places like the Moon and Mars using real hardware in an environment with a software supervisor that makes sure the student software doesn't go out of bounds.

Friday, May 18, 2012

2012 Team America Rocketry Challenge Results

Here's more on the 2012 Team America Rocketry Challenge that was just held:

Madison students take first place in Team America Rocketry Challenge - Aerospace Industries Association

TARC 2012 - Team America Rocketry Challenge - photo collection presented in a YouTube video

Team America Rocketry Challenge - A Country Mouse in Space, A rural teacher's experiences elsewhere

Ingraham rocketry team lands trip to NASA event - The Seattle Times on a team that will now go to the Student Launch Initiative

World's Largest Rocket Contest Launches STEM Careers - Marion C. Blakey (AIA) at the Huffington Post

TARC 2012 Timelapse Outfield - YouTube video - You should also be able to find several other time-lapse videos there if you go to this one.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sample Return Robot Challenge: Competition Approaches, Includes WPI Festival

It's time to get ready for the Sample Return Robot Challenge, which is scheduled for mid-June:

$1.5 million NASA rover contest set for robo-showdown in June - Cosmic Log

30-day Required Information - Sample Return Robot Challenge (at WPI)

NASA $1.5 Million Robot Competition Rolls Onto WPI Campus June 14-17 - NASA

Touch Tomorrow - A Festival of Science, Technology, and Robots at WPI - WPI:

Simultaneous to the competition on Saturday, June 16, 2012, science and technology enthusiasts of all ages will be welcomed to the WPI campus for TouchTomorrow, a free and fun festival comprised of hands-on exhibits and activities focused on our scientific and technological future.  ...  A sampling of TouchTomorrow’s outdoor and indoor exhibits and activities includes:
  • The Space Smart Game
  • Be The Robot – a virtual-reality adventure
  • Engineer a Satellite
  • Bouncing Bubbles!
  • Lunar Quest
  • Plus – demonstrations by FIRST Robotics Teams of advances in robotics technology, an “inflatable earth,” and an actual rocket launch!
In addition to the interactive activities, TouchTomorrow attendees will have opportunities to meet NASA astronauts, explore and engage with research projects being conducted by WPI faculty and students, and of course, watch the SRR Challenge.

There's already a lot of background information on the TouchTomorrow media page.  Check back on their site later this month when the full details about the event should be posted.

There is now an online forum for the teams.  It arrives a bit late in the process, so I'm not sure how much it will be used, but there are a couple short conversations so far.  One is on liability insurance, and another is on travel arrangements from the West, and the possibility of shipping the robots to the competition site.  Having followed a number of these competitions, I'll say that a number of teams have had major problems with shipping their hardware, so a lot of care needs to be taken with that route.  Of course driving the hardware isn't fool-proof ... one team had a car accident.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Space Prize Roundup: TARC 2012, Heinlein Award, SketchUp Models, SpaceApps Global, More

Team America Rocketry Challenge Celebrating Ten Years - Team America Rocketry Challenge - This year's finals for TARC will be held this Saturday, May 12, in The Plains, VA.

TARC Update: If you can't make it to the event, you can use twitter hash tag #TARC12 to follow it.  The @RocketContest twitter account will likely have updates. 

2012 Google Model Your Town Competition - Google SketchUp - The winning team for this year's competition using the modelling tool often integrated with Google Earth will be announced on May 15.  It's not clear whether this competition will be continued in future years, as Google SketchUp will become part of Trimble, well-known for its GPS products.

Space Foundation Student Art Contest Winning Artwork Bounces Off the Moon - SpaceRef

Glasgow school wins 70cm CanSat launch competition - Southgate Amateur Radio News

Stanley Schmidt Wins 2012 Robert A. Heinlein Award - Science Fiction Awards Watch - This award is not to be confused with the Heinlein Prize managed by the Heinlein Prize Trust or the National Space Society's Heinlein Award.  This one is for

outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space.

It's also good to see that Science Fiction Awards Watch is back in action, as the original owners were no longer able to maintain the site and it was offline for a while.

Citizen Science Challenge to be unveiled at Maker Faire - RLV News - This in on May 19, which may be a busy day in the space field if schedules hold.

One man's path to space goes through Seattle's Space Needle - Cosmic Log - This involves an Armadillo suborbital flight and the "Space Race 2012" contest at the Seattle Space Needle.

#SpaceApps Global Judging Open Now - open.NASA

Steven Colbert receives NSS award from Buzz Aldrin - Space for All

Video Contest: Why Explore Space? - NASA Watch