Friday, October 31, 2008

X PRIZE Cars - Hiring, Firing, and More

From X PRIZE Cars blog:

Tesla CEO changes, layoffs happening - There are several linked articles on this topic.

Automotive X Prize News: Oct 29th, 2008 - This one covers Progressive Automotive X PRIZE new hires, the "Revenge of the Electric Car" (movie sequel to "Who Killed the Electric Car") blog, Aptera stopping traffic, the Dean Kamen EV, and much, much more.

NASA Dream Experience Deadline

Win Your NASA Dream Experience - Application Deadline December 15, 2008 - Oregon Space Grant Consortium - A team of 2 students (ages 16-20) and an educator/sponsor will earn the opportunity to spend 3 days at either Johnson Space Center or Kennedy Space Center on a job shadow and behind the scenes experience during the spring of 2009.

Your NASA Dream Experience

Location Innovation Awards

Location Innovation Awards - This is an award for location-based services on devices like mobile phones. Since these rely on GPS, they're space prizes as far as I'm concerned. They could be for implementations or ideas. The competition is for New Zealand residents and citizens. The categories are Social Networking, Proximity-based Marketing, Location-based Games, and AA Maps (New Zealand Automobile Association map website) Widget.

Here's a the tag for the Location Innovation Award posts at the GeoSmart Weblog.

The deadline for entries is February 16.

Space VidVision Contest Deadline

Last Call to Win $3500 Space VidVision Contest! - Space for All - Sunday Nov 2nd Deadline to Submit Your Winning YouTube Video

Team America Rocketry Challenge Deadline

2009 Team America Rocketry Challenge - Registration Deadline December 1, 2008 - Oregon Space Grant Consortium

4-H'ers, you can enter the 2009 Team America Rocketry Challenge - Douglas County Colorado 4-H Blog

Crazy Green Idea Deadline

Since it's Halloween, I thought I'd do some posts on DEADlines. First is the X PRIZE Foundation's Crazy Green Idea YouTube video contest. On Halloween, that contest title makes me think of the Green Goblin for some reason. Anyway, from the YouTube CGI site:

xprize: Just a reminder, the contest closes on Friday!
xprize: Yest, at 11:59:59PM on Friday, the competition will be closed. We will then enter the judging phase of the competition.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prizes at Lunar Meeting

The Joint Annual Meeting of LEAG-ICEUM-SRR (Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, International Lunar Exploration Working Group, and Space Resources Roundtable) is in session, and lunar prizes are a part of it. Here's the program (PDF); you'll find a lot of interesting-sounding topics there if you follow the links. On prizes:

COMMERCIAL LUNAR DATA COLLECTION AND LICENSING TO REDUCE EXPLORATION COSTS (PDF) - Astrobotic representatives - I agree that the typical "form/disband" cycle often seen in planetary science missions is wasteful. Let's keep the successful teams together, and if possible leverage the technologies they've demonstrated to the fullest. This approach would be useful even in a non-commercial planetary science environment. Here's part of the abstract that advocates a new way of doing business:

Space agencies traditionally have offered one-time funding events to attract ad hoc teams of academics and aerospace contractors to develop special-purpose hardware to acquire planetary data sets. Following most missions, the team is disbanded and the hardware designs might never be used again. The worldwide interest in sustained lunar activities offers an opportunity to change this paradigm by sustaining stable teams repeatedly using familiar and lunar-tested hardware designs. This will lead to cost savings for the governments seeking lunar data. ... In July 2008, Astrobotic Technology was awarded a NASA contract to study the most effective regolith moving approaches for site preparation prior to emplacement of the agency’s first lunar outpost. It plans to eventually conduct these site prep activities for NASA, other space agencies and commercial entities on a fixed-cost basis.

More from Astrobotic:

Google Lunar X Prize Competitor Plans Series of Moon Landing Missions - Astrobotic Technology Expeditions Will Build Lunar Data Library - SpaceRef - The company today released a White Paper on its data library at the annual combined meeting of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group, the Space Resources Roundtable and the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group. The paper is available on the company's Web site, It invites the world's space agencies, aerospace corporations, university researchers and industrial firms to outline which data packages are highest priority for them.

Private Firm Reveals Ambitious Moon Mission Plan - - A private group planning to launch a moon rover to the famed Apollo 11 landing site in a bid to win a $20 million prize announced an ambitious plan Thursday to send five more spacecraft to explore the lunar poles.

Google Lunar X Prize Competitor Plans Series of Moon Landing Missions - Astrobotic Technology Expeditions Will Build Lunar Data Library - Centre Daily Times

Now on to some other lunar competitors:

INTERNATIONAL LUNAR OBSERVATORY ASSOCIATION (ILOA): 3 MISSION UPDATE -- ILO-X PRECURSOR, ILO-1 POLAR, ILO HUMAN SERVICE MISSION (PDF) - Steve Durst, Space Age Publishing Company - This covers the ILO/Odyssey Moon plan for the Google Lunar X PRIZE mission and follow-on missions.

A Proposal for “The [Insert Sponsor Here] L2 Cup” (PDF) - Proposal: The L2 Cup would be a crewed spacecraft race modeled on offshore sailing races such as the Rolex Fastnet Race or the Volvo Ocean Race blended with certain financial aspects of the America’s Cup. The proposal is directed at private groups such as Space Adventures, Ltd. that could take a leadership role in organizing an event to facilitate commercial and international synergy ... Race Course: The proposed L2 Cup Race would begin in LEO and upon race start the competing spacecraft would proceed to EML-2 where they would perform a mandatory loiter within a specified distance from EML-2. Thereafter, the spacecraft would return to LEO where they would finish the race.

ESA’s Lunar Robotics Challenge (PDF) - ... to develop a robotic vehicle that is capable of overcoming difficult terrain comparable to that at the lunar poles. ... This paper will present the outcome of the challenge, which takes place in week 43 (20-26th October) 2008, i.e. right before the 2008 ICEUM10/LEAG conference.

Contract Incentives for an Open Architecture International Lunar Network Including Google Lunar XPrize (PDF) - ... A variety of scientific instruments that are recognized as elements of a lunar science network might be contractually placed in this manner on private landers. ...

Also of interest:

THE EUROPEAN STUDENT MOON ORBITER (ESMO): A SMALL MISSION FOR EDUCATION, OUTREACH AND LUNAR SCIENCE (PDF) - The primary objectives of the ESMO mission are (1) to launch the first lunar spacecraft to be designed, built and operated by students across ESA Member and Cooperating States; (2) to place the spacecraft in a lunar orbit; (3) to acquire images of the Moon from a stable lunar orbit and transmit them back to Earth for education outreach purposes; (4) to transfer to a science orbit, and perform niche measurements of interest to lunar science and exploration.

Possibly in conflict with the goal of commercial lunar support is the following: Unpressurized Cargo ORION a Launch Opportunities for Lunar Missions (PDF) - The Orion/Aires I launch vehicle can be used as a launch platform for lunar missions while the Orion is enrooted to the ISS. Studies at the GSFC indicate that a 50 kg payload can be placed in lunar orbit using this launch method.

More GLXP news (I don't know if it was announced at the meeting or not; there are LOTS of abstracts and I didn't check them all):

Odyssey Moon and NASA in partnership - RLV News

LUNAR LANDER DEAL STRUCK - Cosmic Log - more about the Odyssey Moon/NASA deal - Sid Sun, project manager for the Common Spacecraft Bus collaboration at NASA's Ames Research Center, told me that the arrangement calls for Odyssey Moon to pay the space agency as much as $500,000 over the next two years.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Centennial Challenges (especially NG LLC) Update

I'm not going to try to make a big round-up post for the last couple days of Centennial Challenges (mainly Lunar Lander Challenge) news, since I'm a bit short on time. Check HobbySpace/RLV News for a good overview. Here are the ones that seem like the important ones to me:

Briefs: NG-LLC articles; NASA Innovative Project Partnership - RLV News - This includes, among other relevant links, a Space VidCast interview of NASA Centennial Challenge's Andrew Petro. The interview covers most of the Centennial Challenges; I think only MoonROx and General Aviation Challenge were left out. It also covered other commercially-oriented work that NASA IPP does. He notes that they have some ideas for new prizes for next year ... but of course they'd need to have money to fund them. The interview was around half an hour.

An open source lunar lander - RLV News - In addition to the thought-provoking main subject of the post, there's a a link to a detailed recap of recent events by John Carmack. Among other things, he invites TrueZerO to the aRocket forum.

TrueZer0 wrap-up - RLV News - Hopefully they'll be able to continue with the LLC next year. There's a lot of global media and blog coverage of the 2008 LLC - I see it swamping my In Box each day. I've only linked to a small part of it these past few days. Hopefully this coverage translates into more sponsorship opportunities for them, and for the other teams.

ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge Results

A few days ago I posted on the ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge. Now Spaceref has the results.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NG LLC Secret: Testing and Testing and More Testing

Lunar lander challenge won at last - New Scientist (Henry Spencer) - After giving an overview of the NG LLC and the 2008 event, Henry Spencer explains why the thing is so hard to win.

Lunar Site Preservation

Preserving Tranquility - Seed - Should the sites of lunar landings be protected as part of our cultural inheritance?

Here's Buzz Aldrin's perspective:

As part of his Apollo 11 moonwalk, Buzz Aldrin deployed a solar-powered seismometer near the spacecraft. "The seismometer experimenter told me, 'After you deploy the solar panels in the sunlight, don't walk in front of them, or you might interrupt the flow of electricity and damage things,'" Aldrin recalls. "Well, if you look very carefully in front of those panels, you'll see some footprints there. I guess I wouldn't mind too much if somebody went up there to brush those away."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Post Lunar Lander Challenge #2 - October 27, 2008

Today there's an even bigger mountain of news articles and blog posts on the Lunar Lander Challenge. This is just a sample:

'Doom' creator wins first stage of lunar challenge - CNet News

Ontario Fireball; Desert Rover Tests - Astronomy Weather Blog - The title doesn't indicate it, but it starts off with the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander challenge.

Armadillo Lander Captures Lunar X PRIZE Level One, but $1.65 Million Proves Elusive - Popular Mechanics - Like the AccuWeather post, this one also covers the rover tests in the Arizona desert.

Dueling Murphy - The Space Review - Jeff Foust gives a detailed account of the event.

You know rockets have taken over your life when... - Unreasonable Rocket

Performance Dreams and Spread sheets.... - Unreasonable Rocket looking ahead to next year

Briefs: NASA and NG-LLC; Astrium spacejet update; Garriott news conference - RLV News - This includes the NASA LLC press release.

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Recap - Day 2 - The Launch Pad

All the launches, as they happened - The Launch Pad - I think I've linked to these already, but here they are all together.

With all of these (and many other) articles, I wonder if anyone is thinking about writing a Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge book?

A False Chill

False Chill from Lunar Ice Reports - Astrobotic on Google Lunar X PRIZE teams site - Results from the Japanese lunar orbiter that no ice lakes exist at the lunar poles were what most experts expected it to find. ... Surface rovers, such as those Astrobotic will operate, will be able to directly confirm the presence of water (and/or other volatiles delivered by cometary impacts) as well as whether there are local concentrations of volatiles that would be more rewarding to recover.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Post Lunar Lander Challenge - October 26, 2008

SpaceVidcast interviews and clips at NG-LLC - RLV News - The interviews include Armadillo, TrueZero, and SpeedUp. I thought I recognized Bob Steinke (who I've seen give a couple talks on SpeedUp) when looking through one of the Launch Pad photo collections a day or 2 ago, and apparently I was right. I haven't caught up with the other videos yet, but the Steinke interview was pretty informative; at least I learned a couple things from it.

Briefs: X PRIZE NG-LLC press release; Mod videos - RLV News

Briefs: A happy Armadillo; NG-LLC team response - RLV News - The responses include BonNova and Phoenicia. A good portion of the past and present LLC teams were either at the event or posting about it.

Video: John Carmack Interview - Personal Spaceflight - Jeff interviews John

Video: Ken Davidian and ISPCS - Personal Spaceflight - Jeff interviews Ken at a career milestone
LLC Day 2 images and wrapup - This includes a collection of photos.

Goodbye from Las Cruces - The Launch Pad

Photo Album: 2008 NGLLC Day Two - The Launch Pad - The X PRIZE folks have their own set of pictures to view.

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Recap, Day 1 - The Launch Pad - video

Saturday, October 25, 2008

CMU Robotics Anniversaries

CMU's 'Red' Whittaker dominates field - Pittsburgh Tribute-Review - This covers the 25th anniversary of the Field Robotics Center and Red's 60th birthday. GPS-guided robotics in agriculture, the DARPA Urban Challenge, and the Google Lunar X PRIZE are part of the overview.

Commercial Space Wiki Interview and Centennial Challenges Updates

There have been a number of recent changes on the Commercial Space Wiki. Here are some of the prize-related ones:

At the moment, the Front Page celebrates the Armadillo level 1 win in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.

The ECDP Presentations page features a Space VidCast interview of Ken Davidian at the NG LLC airport site. It's about 25 minutes long, and features Centennial Challenges at several points. It also covers Ken's other work with NASA and commercial space.

The NASA Centennial Challenges Information, Documents, and Links page features updates in the "Centennial Challenges Success Stories" section for Peter Homer and his customer Orbital Outfitter's NASA space suit contract, Armadillo and the NG LLC, and the Rocket Racing League/Armadillo/New Mexico joint venture.

New ALS Prize for Life

Help Mouse with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Win $1 Million. - Newsweek blog - This is on a new $1M ALS treatment prize from Prize4Life, not the existing $1M ALS diagnostics prize:

The first $1 million prize that Prize4Life dangled in front of scientists was for a biomarker of the disease—some measurable protein or other biochemical that scientists can measure and that indicates whether an experimental drug is having an effect on ALS. That should reduce the cost of clinical trials, “de-risking” them somewhat and thereby attracting more biotech or pharma companies to the field. It has attracted about 50 teams, Leitner says, including those pursuing “out of the box” ideas.

The prize announced today is for the discovery of a compound that extends life in mice with two different mouse versions of ALS by 25 percent.

Prize4Life Launches $1 Million Prize for Finding Novel Treatment Candidates for ALS (PDF) - Prize4Life:

In addition to posting the million-dollar prize, Prize4Life has also pledged to spend up to $500,000 additional dollars for independent validation of therapies that meet the bar set by the treatment prize ... The ALS Treatment Prize will have a rolling deadline. If no winning solutions are submitted, the prize will be closed to further submissions in October 2010.

The deadline for the Biomarker prize is November 6, 2008.

December GLXP Team Summit

Pomerantz Announces GLXP Summit ... - Lunar Networks (a GLXP Team STELLAR supporter) - The content (and post title) also cover the LLC. Here's the part about the Team Summit:

The dates and location for the December Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit have been fixed as December 15-16, in Mountain View, CA, USA.

More details will be provided later, but the event will focus on discussion of the Guidelines and Master Team Agreement, as well as helping all of our teams find success fundraising. We will only have limited space available for our meetings, so please plan on bringing only two representatives per team—and only registered teams, not LOI signatories or the general public, will be invited.

2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge Activity

Help a future astronaut-- Astronaut Glove Challenge, ideas wanted!! - NASA CoLab:

... What's really cool is that Volanz Aerospace Inc./Spaceflight America, the external organization that partners with NASA to run the Challenge event, is asking YOU to give feedback on the Astronaut Glove Challenge. ...

Welcome to The 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge - Volanz Aerospace Inc./Spaceflight America - This 19-page 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge rules document (PDF) is dated October 1. The highlight:

For the 2009 Challenge, teams must provide a complete glove, which consists of the thermal micrometeoroid garment (TMG), unpowered bladder and bladder-restraint portion of the space suit that covers the hand of an astronaut up to and including the wrist joint.

This is a significant change from the last competition. In 2007, only the bladder and bladder-restraint portion of the glove (inner glove pressurized layer and restraint) was tested.

Team Agreement, prize information and competition dates will be announced at a later time.

Lunar Lander Challenge Roundup - October 25, 2008

Here's a couple of great photo albums from yesterday's Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challege:

Photo Album: 2008 NGLLC, Day One - The Launch Pad - Will Pomerantz gets a rare perspective on the events.

LLC Day 1 in Pictures - Personal Spaceflight

RLV News is ready for the day, and gives a number of links to start the day right:

NG-LLC and Armadillo/RRL suborbital space

Space coverage starts in 14 minutes as I'm writing. If that doesn't work, try here.

The GLXP Twitter has also been a good source.

I plan to update this post once or twice later today as events unfold, but these are the kinds of primary sources you should check for the best coverage.

Update: Well, it looks like the day's first attempt didn't work, and Armadillo isn't going to try again today. That's it for now, but Peter Diamandis discussed the possibility of an early Spring rematch with John Carmack and the Space VidCast hosts. See the above sites for more details.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lunar Lander Challenge Win!!!! - October 24, 2008

Friday is the first lunar lander day - RLV News - This, and the linked webcast, are good places to go to find out about the LLC. That's where I'll be checking when I get a chance ... which means in the late afternoon at best.

I shouldn't forget the Launch Pad, too:

Are You Excited Yet???? - includes videos ...

Almost Here... - ... and photos

GLXP Twitter also continues to be actively posting LLC updates.

Update (evening):

Armadillo Wins! - The Launch Pad - Level 1 first place!!!!!!! ... tomorrow they go for Level 2 first place.

NG-LLC Report 16 - RLV News - As you can see from the title, there are a lot more covering the events of the day as they unfolded. These include not only the competition, but an announcement concerning Armadillo, the Rocket Racing League, and New Mexico. Here's a bit of looking to the future:

The check will be presented later in Washington DC. (Two checks if things work out tomorrow.) Remind Congress people of the value of prizes.

Armadillo Aerospace’s MOD rocket - Set 2, Flights 1 and 2 - Space VidCast with videos of Armadillo flights

TrueZerO Ignignokt Launch Attempt - Space VidCast video - It didn't work but it's pretty impressive considering how recently they started and the fact that it was their first non-tethered attempt.

Armadillo Aerospace’s MOD rocket - Set 1, Flight 1 - Space VidCast video

It's Official Now - Personal Spaceflight - just one of several updates from there.

ROCKET RACERS TARGET SPACE - Cosmic Log - This gives some context to the competition and Armadillo/RRL/N.M. annoucement.

Condolences to True Zero and Congratulations to Armadillo. - Unreasonable Rocket

Near Miss at $2-Million Lunar Lander Challenge - Wired Science - This one shows events as they stood in the middle of the day.

NG LLC News - Team Phoenicia - The teams are watching!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beam Media Power

TRUMPF and Laser testing… - Space Elevator Blog - NSS Space Elevator team and KC Space Pirates testing from the TRUMPF point of view

“Men in sheds rule the world…” - Space Elevator Blog on NSS SE team media (BBC) - In the comments is a link from the team to a PBS spot from Around Space.

The New Space Economy

Is there an economic downturn in space? - VentureBeat - Jeff Foust on Space Investment Summit 5 and the current economic situation:

Nine companies presented their business plans at SIS5, ranging from suborbital launch vehicle developers to medical monitoring ventures hoping to convert space technology. Each had a different goal and a different experience with investors. Celestis, a startup that launches cremated remains into orbit, was looking for only $1 million in funding to make some key hires and roll out a marketing campaign. At the other end of the spectrum, Astrobotic Technology, one of the teams competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, is asking for $60 million to develop the first of a series of lunar rovers.

Lunar Lander Challenge and ISPCS Roundup - October 23, 2008

NG-LLC update... - RLV News

Photo Album: Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Day T-Minus-Two - The Launch Pad - This is a different Launch Pad photo album from the one I indirectly linked to yesterday. It has over 90 photos. Many space prize personalities besides the X PRIZE and LLC team members are featured, including Andy Petro from NASA Centennial Challenges, Anousheh Ansari who funded a lot of the Ansari X PRIZE, and Dave Masten from the simarly-named LLC team from past years.

I'll try to update this later today.

Update (evening):

GLXP Twitter - The GLXP Twitter is giving quick updates on LLC status. Here's a sample:

Holy Lunar Landers, Spaceman! I've been so busy today getting ready for the #NGLLC webcast... from web

In a briefing with the #NGLLC judges. from TwitterBerry

@spacevidcast is setting up now. We'll do some testing later. Want to be an audience? from TwitterBerry in reply to SpaceVidcast

Internet connections up and running. Production truck is getting ready. Twitter back online :) from web

Whole Armadillo team is here from TwitterBerry

Espace: Lunar Lander Challenge 2008 - CLeDelco - Here's an overview of the LLC in French.

More news from Las Cruces, New Mexico. - RLV News - Some of it is related to the LLC.

ISPCS 2008: Thur. Oct. 23 - Notes from morning session 2 - RLV News - includes comments from the X PRIZE Foundation's Will Pomerantz

ISPCS 2008: Thur. Oct. 23 - Notes from morning session 3 - RLV News - includes comments from Doug Comstock, NASA Innovative Partnership Program (home of Centennial Challenges and other commercially-oriented activity)

ISPCS 2008: Thur. Oct.23 - Notes from afternoon session 2 - RLV News - this one includes Peter Diamandis discussing some of his non-prize activities

Video: Will Pomerantz previews the LLC - Personal Spaceflight

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge isn't the only lunar competition taking place. There's also the ESA Lunar Robotics Challenge. I'm going to take a number of links from a Google Lunar X PRIZE Forums post:

Check out the teams and their robots:

Antarctic Inflatable Hab Naming Contest

NASA and the Challenger Center Announce Antarctic Habitat Naming Contest - SpaceRef

Lunar Lander Challenge and ISPCS Roundup - October 22, 2008

This isn't really going to be a full roundup, since my news searches and surfing show way more LLC and ISPCS posts and news articles than I can even read. Given that, RLV News is a good place to start:

ISPCS 2008: Wed. Oct..22 - Notes from afternoon session 2+ - features former Centennial Challenges manager Ken Davidian

ISPCS 2008: Wed. Oct..22 - Notes from afternoon session 2 -

Moderator:Brett Alexander, President, Personal Spaceflight Federation, and Executive Director for Space, X PRIZE Foundation
Co-moderator: Jeff Foust (Futron,, Personal Spaceflight, Space Polities, The Space Review)
Foust: What advice for the next president?Walker: Tax free bill for commercial space products and services.
Murphy: Need efforts to spur innovations and ideas. More prizes and similar competitions.

TrueZer0 has its permit for the NG-LLC

Las Cruces reports ... - These last 2 include several links to the X PRIZE Foundation's Launch Pad, which I'm sure will continue to be another key place to check as the Lunar Lander Challenge approaches.

NASA turns to the private sector as China flexes new space muscles - VentureBeat - This is by William Pomerantz of the X PRIZE Foundation. One of the Launch Pad posts mentions this article.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lunar Lander Challenge Roundup - October 21, 2008

Unreasonable choice - RLV News - Paul explains why he chose not to go to the LLC. In the comments he explains some cases where space development leads to capabilities that help commercial ventures on Earth.

Off to Las Cruces... - RLV News - Clark is going; expect live blogging. (Here at Space Prizes I'll be at home).

Reproducing..... - Unreasonable Rocket shows the next generation.

Lunar Lander Teams To Compete For NASA Prize - GPS Daily - link from X PRIZE Foundation - There isn't much new in the article, but it does give a cool photo of Las Cruces International Airport.

Helicopter Flyover at Las Cruces Airport - GoogleLunarXPRIZE

Monday, October 20, 2008

VidVision Approaches

The deadline for the 2008 Space VidVision Contest is fast approaching -- it's November 2. I don't see a lot of entries on their YouTube page yet. Here's an interesting one from a Cosmic Citizen that, among other things, considers a trend that the Space Cynics have been discussion for probably over a year - the mortgage crisis and its effect on space.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Water Rocket Challenges

It looks like a few days after the last time I checked up on them, the water rocket folks updated their website so it no longer looks like a certain news site. They still have a number of competitions listed. The 1,000 foot challenge runs through the end of the year.

NG Lunar Lander Challenge Update - October 19, 2008

We came so very close... - Unreasonable Rocket

TrueZer0 heading for Las Cruces - RLV News

Game Designers Like Space - Game Design Scrapbook

Saturday, October 18, 2008

European Student Space Prizes

NearSpace competition for European student experiments - RLV News

Student competition awards at IAC - Space for All

Best Of the Year Awards

NASA Researchers Receive R&D 100 Awards - SpaceRef

Top 10 New World-Changing Innovations of the Year (With Videos!) - Popular Mechanics - The link is to the Phoenix Mars mission award. Here's another from the same list: APTERA VEHICLES (Automotive X PRIZE team).

Looking Ahead to 2009 Lunar Lander Challenge Already?

Airport could house X Prize - Alamogordo Daily News - From the article:

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority and Alamogordo White Sands Regional Airport officials are discussing the possibility of conducting an infrastructure study to possibly hold the 2009 X Prize Lunar Lander Challenge and related events at the airport in Alamogordo.

Alamogordo Airport coordinator Parker Bradley said a resolution was approved by city commissioners to continue discussions with spaceport authorities for the study Tuesday. ...

He said he hasn't contacted X Prize Foundation which helps fund the Lunar challenge with the state and other sponsors.

That first sentence has a lot of "possibly"s and "possibility"s and "discussing"s ... which I suppose makes sense at this point, since we don't even know the results of the 2008 LLC event yet, let alone what the goals will be in 2009 for the LLC or XPC.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Will the Health Care System X PRIZE Work?

Five Reasons WellPoint’s $10M Healthcare Competition Won’t Work - BNET

The X Factor - A Shot in the Arm - This one gives 5 reasons why the competition WILL work.

You decide. The BNET article seemed to raise the bar a bit too high. I don't think they'll try to solve every problem in the health care industry, any more than they try to solve every problem in the space industry. They're probably going to look for a strategic "weak point" in the problematic status quo health care system where a demonstration will open the way for
useful operational follow-ons, and go after that specific point. That's how their other prizes seem to work, at least.

I do agree that there are "broader reaching and more systemic" (using wording from A Shot in the Arm) problems in the health care industry. However, the problems in the space industry shouldn't be underestimated. They certainly aren't all engineering problems. They're mostly industrial, financial, media, regulatory, and political problems. The X PRIZEs go after those non-engineering problems, too.

Anyway, I'd wait to see what kind of rules they come up with before giving them odds one way or the other, or estimating how important it will be if they succeed.

2008 NG Lunar Lander Challenge Approaches

Unreasonable Rocket is done - RLV News - You can see in the Unreasonable post comments that a lot of people are cheering them on for what they've accomplished, and perhaps will accomplish later.

Northrop Grumman-Lunar Lander Challenge announcement - RLV News - Actually this post has a lot more than just the announcement. It's pretty much a 1 stop shop for getting ready for the LLC.

By the way, on the LLC site, as confirmation of Clark's identification of which teams are left, it now says Two teams are expected to fly during the competition: Armadillo Aerospace and TrueZer0.

Catch Up with John Herrington - The Launch Pad - One of the past NG LLC judges is busy doing something else this year that might not normally be considered a space event, but he's doing it with a space theme.

Space Vidcast plans to be at the event. In addition to covering the event, which, if I understood the show correctly (I was a bit confused) will be on the X PRIZE Foundation LLC Webcast site,
they hope to have a regular show that night, depending on things like travel. I'd imagine if they do have that regular show a lot of it will be a recap on the LLC, since they seem to be pretty enthused about it already.

Lunar Lander Teams To Compete For $2 Million NASA Prize - NASA

Rocket Teams: Ready Your Engines for Lunar Lander Challenge - Coalition for Space Exploration

A lot of news stations, especially in the Las Cruces area, have short pieces on the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. There isn't a lot of information I haven't covered already in the ones I saw, so I won't repeat them all. Here's one as a sampler:

No public access to X Prize Cup contest this year -

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tuberculosis X PRIZE and Gates Foundation

X PRIZE Foundation to Help Fight Tuberculosis Worldwide with Gates Foundation Support - X PRIZE Foundation - From the press release:

The X PRIZE Foundation has received a planning grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an X PRIZE for effective diagnosis of tuberculosis in the developing world. The overall goal of the prize will be to promote better management of the world’s second most lethal infectious disease. Innovation will need to be tailored for the use in under-developed regions, where over 60% of tuberculosis patients have access to only primitive, peripheral health clinics with scarce resources.

Dr. Geesaman from the Foundation says "Because of the existing lack of adequate financial incentives to develop such tests, a prize is an ideal tool to incentivize innovation in this important area."

The press release describes international interest in using prizes for fighting TB. I learned about these developments from the KEI Online site, and James Love from KEI is also featured in the press release.

Since I've posted on this developing prize before, I've made a tag for it.

Here's a link on a 2007 TED Prize Winner. A summary: Photojournalist James Nachtwey sees his TED Prize wish come true, as we share his powerful photographs of XDR-TB, a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis that's touching off a global medical crisis. Learn how to help at

On the TED Prizes: The TED Prize was created as a way of taking the inspiration, ideas and resources that are generated at TED and using them to make a difference. Although the winners receive a prize of $100,000 each, that's the least of what they get. The real prize is that they are granted a WISH. A wish to change the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LaserMotive: We Need A Hole In Our Trailer Like…

LaserMotive becomes a “holely team” - Space Elevator Blog

Online registration opens for the 2nd International Conference on Space Elevator & CNT Tether Design in Luxembourg on Dec 6-7, 2008 - Space Elevator Blog

Loebner Turing Test Prize

Loebner Prize Winner Announced; Is He Human? - Buzz Ya!

Loebner Prize in Artificial Intelligence - The computer system that comes closest to passing the Turing Test (fooling people into thinking it's a human) wins the prize.

Health Care X PRIZE

WellPoint, the WellPoint Foundation and the X PRIZE Foundation Collaborate to Advance Revolutionary Ideas to Improve Health Care - X PRIZE Foundation press release - WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), the nation’s largest health insurance company in terms of medical membership; the WellPoint Foundation, one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States; and the X PRIZE Foundation, the nation’s pre-eminent philanthropic organization focused on innovation through competition, today announced a landmark collaboration to develop a $10 million or more competition designed to generate new ways to address the nation’s serious health care system challenges. The press release includes comments from Newt Gingrich and Bill Bradley. Here's more:

At this time, WellPoint, the WellPoint Foundation and the X PRIZE Foundation are announcing their intention to collaborate to develop a prize; the actual award amount, competition rules and guidelines are expected to be finalized in early 2009.

Healthy is what we're after - X PRIZE Health Care prize page with videos from Peter Diamandis, Angela Braly (President and CEOWellPoint, Inc.), and Newt Gingrich.

Yet another X-Prize competition kicks off, this time for healthcare - VentureBeat

Energy and Environment Prize Roundup - October 15, 2008

Automotive X Prize News: October 12th, 2008 - X PRIZE Cars blog - One of the entries this week is on Escape from Berkeley, which Wired Autopia describes as a madcap alt-fuel race that mashes up Mad Max and Cannonball Run with a touch of the Darpa Challenge and Burning Man. The goal is to see how we can move energy from a commodity culture to a hacker culture.

Avion & Kinetic Vehicles Triumph - X PRIZE Cars blog - The Escape from Berkeley concludes, among other news.

Bellingham man hopes to make history with 100 mpg car - (link from X PRIZE Foundation news) - more about the Avion

Elon Musk to expand role at Tesla Motors - RLV News

The Zayed Future Energy Prize - neXt PRIZE

EDF’s bizarre $10,000 contest: “What is a carbon cap and how will it cure our oil addiction?” - Climate Progress - and more: EDF’s and MIT’s magical thinking on carbon caps and oil - Climate Progress

The first 100-mpg car - Seattle Times (link from X PRIZE Foundation news) - This mainly covers the GM Volt.

Lunar Lander Challenge Roundup - October 15, 2008

Lots of activity today - Truezer0 - They include a tether test, and explain the things that went well and the ones that didn't, as well as why it's tough to see the Lunar Lander.

I've been posting enough about them lately that I've added a tag for them, although I didn't apply it (yet?) to the old posts on them.

Briefs: Unreasonable plans Wed. tests; TrueZer0 vehicle - RLV News - This includes a different TrueZer0 video showing their Lander.

Unreasonable Rocket plans test on Wednesday - RLV News

Long Pixel tethered test - RLV News

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lunar Lander Challenge Roundup - October 14, 2008

Unreasonable Rocket plans test on Wednesday - RLV News

FAA clears Armadillo powered rocket racer for exhibition flights - RLV News

I couldn't access the linked press release, but here's a copy from KRNV (Reno, Nevada).

The RLV News post links to this Cosmic Log post: ROCKET RACER IS 'GO' FOR SHOW. I wanted to point out the Lunar Lander Challenge piece:

Now those plans are off, and Whitelaw said one reason was that Armadillo is focusing on its third bid to win a six-figure or seven-figure prize in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. That contest takes place in Las Cruces right after the symposium.

"We need to focus on winning the Lunar Lander Challenge," Whitelaw said.

"We"? Yes, Whitelaw said "we." Does that hint at a more formal financial relationship in the future? ... I had to ask Whitelaw whether a similar deal was in the works with Armadillo.

"No comment," Whitelaw answered.

NSS Beam Power Team Technical and Media

Updates from the National Space Society (NSS) Space Elevator team - Space Elevator Blog

AAS Planetary Science Award

JPL's Jon Giorgini Honored With Masursky Award - SpaceRef - Jon developed and implemented the on-line Horizons system that is used by the international scientific community to generate accurate ephemeris information for the 450,000 currently known objects in the solar system.

As described in the press release, he has a lot of other accomplishments, too.

Regolith Robot Programmers Needed

Student Robotics Project- Help Wanted - CSM Nerds is recruiting in the school's Computer Science department for next year's Regolith Excavation Challenge.

Monday, October 13, 2008

X PRIZE Cup, Google Earth/Maps, and Airships

Links: Panoramio Heat Maps, See Russia?, 1m LiDAR, Airship - Google Earth Blog - It's all interesting, but I'm posting specifically on the airship part because of a little space prize connection:

They created a Google Maps airship tracking map so you could watch it travel along. ... the good news is that Airship Ventures is setting up for tours at Moffett Field in California (one of the few remaining locations with large airship hangars - and right next door to the Google Headquarters). I actually met the husband and wife team which started this venture at the X Prize Cup last fall. Hopefully they'll be setting up some Google Earth files for tracking their tours as they fly over the San Francisco sights.

Up Ship! - their blog, full of airship pictures

Beamed Power Plans

Time to Build! A First Look at “The Initial Plan” - Space-Based Solar Power - One of the planned satellite systems almost sounds like what a "2nd generation" Space Elevator Games Beam Power Competition could look like:

The “light” satellite mission turns the experiment on its head. It will place on orbit a satellite that merely contains a receiver and the lightbulb that will be illuminated by a ground-based laser (1.0 or 0.86 microns). Visual observation of the light on the satellite being illuminated during the laser broadcast will indicate success.

Lunar X PRIZE Roundup - October 13, 2008

New Team in Florida - Panda On A Scooter - A member of Omega Envoy (the software lead) tells how they got there and issues a "Call for Advisors".

N-Prize team ‘Nebula’ - Google Lunar X Prize Letter of Intent - Space Fellowship

Team Prometheus - Google Lunar X PRIZE Forums - We are actively seeking new members for our team. We are moving into a new phase of development. We are currently entered in the N-Prize competition and will be filing our letter of intent for the X-Prize before the 10,000 dollar deadline. ... There's more in the post and later conversations; Prometheus seems to be pretty ambitious. Their web site isn't up yet but it should be here eventually. Yes, they are listed as an N-Prize team.

Briefs: Dayton Rocket Team update; NM spaceport tax update - RLV News

The Dayton Rocket Team news article is related to GLXP team LunaTrex. Here's a GLXP Teams entry by LunaTrex, too: LunaTrex AGI Conference update - Joseph Gangestad. As usual, there are plenty of other good posts at the GLXP Teams page.

TeamSTELLAR Announcement: Two new Science Teams chartered. - STELLAR - I have no idea how long this has been up; I just ran across it. The first is for spaceflight trajectory planning, which isn't a big surprise. I didn't expect the second one, though: Science Component Team. Description: Inorganic analytical chemists and instrumentation specialists responsible for the Helium-3 analytical experiments onboard the rover(s).

The STELLAR page links to the LEAG (Lunar Exploration Analysis Group) Joint Annual Meeting, so I wouldn't be surprised if they (and other GLXP teams, for that matter) send representatives there.

The International Lunar Observatory, which is partnering with GLXP Team Odyssey Moon, has the following news release: ILO featured in "Moon Base Mons Malapert — Making the Case", AIAA Aerospace America, October 2008 - PDF 1.00MB. The article makes the case for Mons Malapert being a better lunar robotics and human base location than Shackleton Crater. Some of the reasons cited are solar power, Earth line of site for communications, ease of navigation, ease of access to regolith resources, and easier landing. The ILO mention is in an artist rendition: International Lunar Observatory mission, at the summit of Mons Malapert circa 2012, would involve astronomical observations at multiple wavelengths and communication services between the Earth and the Moon. Courtesy: ILO Association

As a reminder, here's the ILO/Odyssey Moon plan after the GLXP from the original ILO/Odyssey Moon press release (PDF):

The ultimate goal of the ILOA is to finance and deliver a fully operational International Lunar Observatory to the Moon's mountainous South Pole region where energy and resources may be abundant. The International Lunar Observatory will be delivered to the Moon's southern polar region aboard Odyssey Moon's "MoonTwo" lunar lander early in the next decade, establishing permanent astrophysical observations and lunar commercial communications systems, while also helping to catalyze international lunar build-out.

Here's the general ILO News Release page:

Update (afteroon): Video: AGI and New Teams Announcement - The Launch Pad

Lunar Lander Challenge Roundup - October 13, 2008

Unreasonable update - RLV News

TrueZer0 hover progress [Update] - RLV News

Unreasonable and TrueZer0 update; NG-LLC update - RLV News - I'm glad they explained it; at first I thought TrueZer0 found a blueberry pie in their engine.

Rocket competition moved to Las Cruces - - It's not new news, but I'm including it to show the local Las Cruces media is letting the community know what's going on with the NG LLC.

Update (afternoon): When will rocket racing take off? - The Space Review (Jeff Foust) - One of the topics is how the Armadillo RRL flights are helping that team test for the NG LLC.

Armadillo flies 90 second tethered test flights - RLV News

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Collaboration Now

Collaboration Now - CNBC - You can see in the listings for the various episodes that Dr. Peter Diamandis, Anousheh Ansari, and Dr. George Church "Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Leader, Personal Genome X Team" are among the "Collaboration Guests" with X PRIZE Foundation ties. There are also representatives from other organizations that have used innovation prizes like Cisco and Netflix. X PRIZE Foundation's partner BT are a/the sponsor.

One guest on the list (for the November 9 show) is Jeff Howe, author of Crowdsourcing and the Crowdsourcing blog. Innovation prizes are closely related to crowdsourcing, and innovation prizes come up occasionally on the blog. Here are a couple recent examples:

The Tools of Globalization - This covers an example of productively using Innocentive. It also mentions Prize4Life.
Crowdsourcing Medical Expertise Part Two: Reader Comments

Set Your TiVos, People - The Launch Pad - X PRIZE Foundation Partner, BT, is a major sponsor of a new CNBC series on collaboration that will prominently feature X PRIZE Foundation in the first and last episodes. The CNBC series depicts how collaboration can be a catalyst for change and innovation.

CNBC to Air Collaboration Now on Sunday, October 12 - neXt PRIZE

"Collaboration Now!" on CNBC Oct. 12th - Connecting the Dots - The author of this post has some positive expecations for the 5 part series.

Jim Benson Remembered

Jim Benson Has Died - Michael Belfiore - Michael remembers him through a couple events involving Michael's coverage of SpaceShipOne.

TechX Challenge Results

It looks like the TechX Challenge results are posted by Singapore's DSTA. As often happens with these challenges, there were no winners the first year. Will there be a second year?

Friday, October 10, 2008

AST Tethered Test Collection

Topic: AST Permits for Tethered Tests - Commercial Space Wiki - The most recent entry in this collection of forum discussions, emails, and blog posts is from John Carmack on October 3.

Lunar Lander Summary

LUNAR LANDER LIFTOFFS - Cosmic Log summarizes the recent events with the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge event and the Google Lunar X PRIZE.

Getting Closer

TrueZer0 update - RLV News - Clark is doing a great job keeping up with the LLC teams, which is nice because with our new son I for one can't keep up some days. The LLC teams are really having an interesting race this year against time and each other, as this post shows. Hopefully we'll have some wins this year and some business incentives, prizes, or some other drivers to keep multiple teams moving ahead.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Space Prize Roundup - October 9, 2008

I only have time for a quick post today.

Briefs: Garriott interview; GLXP teams; - RLV News - One commenter in the article post suggests a (possibly impractical, but fun-sounding nonetheless) way to go the Falcon 9 route instead of Falcon 1.

Ken Davidian moves to FAA Commercial Space Transportation Office - RLV News - The NASA Watch article consists of Ken's sendoff email.

NG-Lunar Lander Challenge at Las Cruces Airport, Oct.24-25 - RLV News - According to a GLXP Teams post, members of Team LunaTrex plan to go to the ISPCS and hope to see the Lunar Lander Challenge the following weekend, so they may be in luck.

X Prize Founder Is Congress Keynoter - ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) News - link from X PRIZE Foundation news ticker - Peter H. Diamandis, founder of the $10 million X Prize competition for private-sector spacecraft, will present the keynote address at the 2008 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition next month in Boston.

The event will also feature the ASME Student Design Competition.

2008 ASME Student Design Competition: WINROBO - The 2008 competition challenges student teams to design, build, and demonstrate a robot which will wash a residential double-hung sash window autonomously, that is, without human intervention beyond placing the robot on the lowest window pane and turning it on, or under remote control of an operator “inside” the “building”.

I'll also show the 2009 one since it's an all-out space one:

2009 ASME Student Design Competition - MARS ROCKS! - Given the spectacular success of Phoenix Mars Lander’s space exploration (including retrieval of soil samples), NASA would like to include on its next mission a radio-controlled vehicle to retrieve small rock samples. This device could be controlled from the spacecraft if the mission is manned, or from Earth on an unmanned mission. The purpose of collecting the rocks is to discover if life ever existed on Mars. If it did, the life cycle of Mars may be used to learn important information for us here on Earth.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

University Student Lunar Contest

NASA and NIA Challenge Students to Imagine Moon Designs - SpaceRef - A contest sponsored by NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) is challenging university students to think about what sorts of conditions astronauts will face when we return to the moon, then design projects that may become part of actual lunar exploration. ... Student teams must submit a summary of and an outreach plan for their proposed projects by November 28. Their work must be based on one of four themes: outpost to settlement, initial lunar outpost, bringing the world along with virtual exploration and novel approaches to increase sample return from the moon.

RASC-AL 2009
RASC-AL 2008 - See information on this year's version.

Long Distance Beaming

KC Space Pirates reach another milestone - Space Elevator Blog

AGI and GLXP Partner; 2 New GLXP Teams

I updated the GLXP Teams on the right side of this page yesterday, but never had a chance to post on it that day. The Google Lunar X PRIZE announced 2 new official teams: one I hadn't heard of before, Independence-X Aerospace, and another I had, Omega Envoy.

The other announcement was that the Google Lunar X PRIZE has a new partner in AGI (Analytic Graphics), a small but prominent maker of space software like STK (Satellite Tool Kit), a software suite that provides features like orbit and attitude analysis and visualization for space mission geometries. I actually messed around a bit with the free version of STK when I was a student looking for a project in 1 class, but wound up doing something else equally interesting involving volcanoes. Anyway, at that time STK looked pretty good, and I'm sure it's even better now.

Introducing the Florida Team - Omega Envoy, Florida's team, at the GLXP Teams site

Two new GLXP entries + new partner - RLV News

More GLXP news - RLV News - Will Pomerantz's presentation at the AGI conference is a good summary of innovation prizes, the X PRIZE Foundation, and the Google Lunar X PRIZE.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More Details on Wearable Power Prize Winners

At first I could only find the identities of the winners; now there's a lot of information and several press releases available.

DuPont, Smart Fuel Cell AG Win Wearable Power Prize Competition - DuPont News - The lightweight M-25 fuel cell combines DuPont’s direct methanol fuel cell technology with SFC’s commercially proven fuel cell systems, products, and integration expertise. ... The M-25 standard design, when worn by soldiers in the field for extended missions, is up to 80 percent lighter than conventional power sources, yet capable of powering a wide range of soldier equipment, such as digital communication and navigation equipment.

DuPont takes Wearable Power Prize- Riverside Press-Enterprise - This includes a video and pictures. It explains the military and civilian (eg: camping) business opportuntities for lower-weight wearable power systems. How much financial investment did the prize encourage?

Their project, including plane fare to California, cost them about $10,000 they said.

Other teams spent $100,000 or more on their prototypes. DuPont's Baunchalk wouldn't say what his team had spent other than it was "significant." He would not confirm whether the million-dollar prize would cover the investment or not.
"We've lost, in this nation, a little bit of the science and engineering edge, Shaffer said. "We have a tremendous capacity for innovation. It's this kind of competition that creates the leap forward."

Direct-methanol fuel cell takes DoD prize - EE Times

Adaptive Materials Places 2nd, Wins $500,000 in Department of Defense Research & Engineering Prize - Adaptive Materials News - Adaptive Materials, the leading manufacturer of solid oxide fuel cells, recently placed second among 47 competitors in the Department of Defense Research & Engineering’s Prize. The company’s lightweight fuel cells rose to the challenge, outperforming leading battery and fuel cell companies to help the company capture the competition’s $500,000 second prize.

The public relations power of prize competitions is noted: “Prior to the Prize competition, awareness of Adaptive Materials’ propane-powered solid oxide fuel cells was limited to industry experts, so it’s an exciting win that will build visibility and credibility for technology that a lot of people didn’t even know exists.

The winners always have to figure out what to do with the prize money. Here's one way: Adaptive Materials will share $30,000 of its Prize with all employees. The funds will be awarded as a performance bonus to all Adaptive Materials’ employees with the company on August 31, 2008.

SFC Fuel Cells Wins Dept. of Defense “Wearable Power Competition” - Earth2Tech - SFC was part of 2 of the 3 winning entries.

Discovery Education Winners

Discovery Education and 3M Announce America's Top Young Scientist and Top Science Teacher - SpaceRef - This gives the results on the competition at NASA GSFC that SpaceRef had a press release for recently. From the more recent press release:

Presented with multiple rounds of space-themed challenges, students and teachers were evaluated by a panel of judges on their science skills and their ability to share scientific knowledge with others both in-person and on-camera.

In addition to the major first prizes for students ($50,000) and teachers ($5,000 and products), there were a number of other prizes. They all sound good; I'll just sample a few with the most space content:

-- Margaret Botros from Wichita, KS won the Lowell Observatory "Star Gazer" prize, allowing her to get a behind-the-scenes look at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.
-- Michael Koehler from Allison Park, PA won the National Park Service "Space to Sea Adventure" prize, allowing him to see a shuttle launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and assist National Park Service biologists at Canaveral National Seashore.
-- Jack Uesugi from Wahiawa, HI won the Discovery Commerce "Reach for the Stars" prize, awarding him a state-of-the-art Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope.

Nancy Conrad on the Space Show

Nancy Conrad and Joshua Neubert - The Space Show - I probably won't get a chance to listen to the archive until this weekend, but the summary looks good:

Nancy Conrad and Joshua Neubert were the guests today to discuss the Conrad Foundation and the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award. Find out more by visiting the following websites: and . Josh and Nancy explained the purpose of the Conrad Foundation and their incredible awards program. I really think it's likely the best inspiring and motivating awards program for high school students that I have learned about over the past 7 years and I told both guests this on the show.

It's probably discussed in the show, but I noticed this news dated October 2 on the site:

The first 100 registered teams will receive a signed copy of Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Journey to the Moon and Beyond, by Howard Klausner and Nancy Conrad. This book is "A surprisingly candid insider's view of the greatest ride in history: America's glorious race to the stars, as seen through the eyes of a real space cowboy."

LLC Permits and other Down to the Wire Business

Two weeks from Today... - Unreasonable Rocket

Briefs: Armadillo grounded [Update]; TrueZer0 tests; Mojave rockets - RLV News - This covers FAA permit issues and a Truezer0 test.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wearable Power Prize Won

DDR&E Wearable Power Prize Winners - $1.75M in prizes (i.e. all it) was won; this shows the first, second, and third place winners.

Work and Fun at Mojave

Happy Sputnik Day! - RocketDeech - This is the latest on what's happening at Masten Space. It starts like this:

But it is still October 4th in the Antelope Valley, so I'm going to party if I want to! And by party, I mean write a blog post.

The post covers getting ready for a tethered test, regulatory red tape, watching cool things like Unreasonable Rocket testing, XCOR Rocket Racing flights, and WhiteKnightTwo.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Space Experiment Competition Winner

UK student satellite experiment contest winner - Space for All - The links show the details about the winning entry, an ionosphere instrument, that will go to space.

X PRIZE Anniversaries

The Launch Pad and neXt PRIZE note this date is an important one from an anniversary point of view for space and the X PRIZE Foundation.

Wearable Power Competition Finals Today

Aviation Week blog posts tagged with "Wearable Power Prize" - team interviews, etc

Rayovac Enters Portable Power Pack in DoD Wearable Power Prize Competition - Flashlight News

Competition: the Wearable Power System - - October 3

list of 48 finalists (PDF) - announced September 15

Final 20 Teams Compete For DoD $1M Wearable Power Prize - - September 20: University of Maine students and brothers Chris and Brandon Look were one of 169 original entries to make it to the final testing round. “Our dad is an engineer and owns a construction company, so we’ve always been interested in anything mechanical,” said Brandon, who is a volunteer firefighter. “Chris serves in the Army National Guard, so in a sense, we’re both ground pounders. We know from experience what might benefit the guys in the field.”

list of 20 finalists

Science Competition Finals at GSFC

Student and Teacher Finalists Compete in National Science Competition at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center October 5 and 6 - SpaceRef:

NASA will host the competition finals at its world-renowned Goddard Space Flight Center, where students and teachers will demonstrate their science prowess in a series of team-based, interactive challenges focused on this year's theme, "The Science of Space" ...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bailout Brought Down to Scale

WHAT'S THAT IN APOLLOS? - Cosmic Log - To help us wrap our minds around the $700B or more bailout figure, Cosmic Log translates that huge value into "currency" representing different space and science efforts, like the Apollo program. It figures the bailout amount is the equivalent of 7 Apollo programs. Of course, Apollo itself was mind-bogglingly huge, so it stands to reason that a whole new currency system based on different sized space projects will let us comprehend the size of something like the bailout as well as other adventures in Federal funding of various sizes. The currency Cosmic Log comes up with includes Apollo, rovers, colliders, a Shuttle launch, and development of SpaceShipOne, which he figures at $25M.

So ... he figures a Shuttle launch costs $1B, or 40 SpaceShipOnes. The bailout costs 700 Shuttle launches ... or 28,000 SpaceShipOnes.

Now, I know that breakthroughs like SpaceShipOne aren't simply a matter of throwing money at problems. However, suspend judgement for a minute and just imagine if we could buy 28,000 innovation, design, science, and engineering breakthroughs on the scale of SpaceShipOne instead of bailing out Wall Street. I guess after about 500 of those there wouldn't be a mortgage crisis because we'd have all of the real estate in the galaxy available, and we'd be able to grow cities like blades of lawn grass. After that, ...?

X PRIZE Cars Update - October 3, 2008

Automotive X Prize Team Websites: Sept 2008 Roundup - X PRIZE Cars - X PRIZE Cars is starting a new feature where the stats of all of the teams' websites are evaluated, with notes on which have actually gotten an X PRIZE Cars feature page, which don't but have enough vehicle statistics and other information to make one, etc. Over 100 teams are featured.

Automotive X Prize News: Sept 28th, 2008 - X PRIZE Cars - As in past weeks, numerous articles about the AXP and related news are linked and summarized. The selection of articles always has what seems to me to be the right level of depth, covering the AXP news without repetition.

Lunar Lander Challenge Update: October 3, 2008

All NG-LLC teams listed; Unreasonable status - RLV News - The X PRIZE Foundation has listed the 2 new and 1 returning teams that hadn't been announced previously. The RLV News post also covers how Unreasonable Rocket is moving ahead after their recent bad vehicle news.

Earlier events for Unreasonable Rocket (all links from RLV News):

Unreasonable perseverance
Unreasonable setback

Google Advertising, Public Relations, and Philanthropy Strategy

Does Google need to rein in its ambition? - - From the article:

Google's broad ambition -- particularly its sponsorship of the $30 million X Prize to promote exploration of the moon, and Google Sky, an online product for gazing at the stars-- has become a punch line for its rivals. While Google focuses on space, the barb goes, they are focusing on improving their search engines.

Hmmm. I hadn't heard of these rivals. When they're ready to reveal their search engines to the public, I'd like to try them.

(Seriously, I did a little search engine comparison project in an Information Retrieval class long before Google existed, so it would be fun to do another comparison like that).

Back to things like the GLXP ... no Google investor should be surprised Google gets involved with areas like space and energy. As the article mentions, they made this obvious right from the beginning at their IPO (as I learned in another pre-"Space Prizes blog" class for a paper I did on Google Earth). Every company needs to get involved with philanthropy in some way. This is needed for employee moral, finding the best new employees, and public relations. Every company also needs to do advertising. Instead of annoying TV ads, Google chooses to do it with things like the GLXP. This is part of their brand. There are plenty of other companies to invest in if you don't think that's a good approach.

Not only that, but some of these efforts are probably going to pay off in an operational (rather than advertising or public relations) sense for Google. I was actually surprised the GLXP prize wasn't for something like a lunar mapping effort that could be loaded into Google Earth. There are lots of ways Google can benefit from this type of effort. Of course, as the article mentions, energy really is a big cost for their data centers, so they've got to tackle energy somehow.

LaserMotive Update at Space Solar Power Meeting

Friday Space Power Technology Session - Transterrestrial Musings - Rand is blogging from the State of Space Solar Power Technology workshop in Florida Disney country. The conference page says that the workshop's "relevance to the DoD is to identify within the services, if and to what extent, a space centric beamed power energy system may provide energy at tactically, operationally, or strategically significant levels to ground base rectifying antennas or receivers over a majority of the globe."

The second half of Rand's post is about a talk by Jordin Kare from Beam Power team LaserMotive. Some of this talk covered last year's Space Elevator Games from LaserMotive's perspective; for comparison here's what I picked up from a talk on this subject that Jordin gave at Space Access '08. Rand's post also covers some newer Beam Competition information, and gives an outline of the kinds of steps LaserMotive would like to take next.

Hopefully if the Beam Power prize is won this year, a new version of the competition will be made (with a prize funded by NASA? DoD? Someone else?) to address some of these steps, now that interest is growing and the Games are becoming a regular event. It's good to see that LaserMotive has achievable business and technology goals after the current Games to bridge between the Games and big steps like Space Elevators, Solar Power Satellites, and Power Relay Satellites.

Thursday Afternoon At The Space Power Tech Workshop - Tranterrestrial Musings - The end of this post covers Jordin Kare talking about different space applications using lasers, in many cases with the laser part on the Earth.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

NASA University Design Contest

NASA Challenges Students To Design Tools For Moon Rovers - SpaceRef - A new NASA contest challenges college-level students to design tools or instrument packages that could be used on the next generation of human-driven moon rovers. Student will have the opportunity to engage in NASA's return to the moon by designing equipment that will help astronauts accomplish tasks on the lunar surface. ... NASA plans to invite contest winners to the next set of lunar technology mission tests planned for the summer or fall of 2009. Paid internships also are planned as student awards.

From the NASA site NASA University Design Contest in Exploration Systems: Prizes:We plan [to] provide travel stipends for winning teams to attend the next set of lunar technology mission tests in the summer or fall of 2009.

The site also has a suggested list of tools and instruments that the students might design here.

Reusable Falcon 9

Elon Musk cites big cost reduction with reuse of F9 - RLV News - Members from a couple Lunar Lander Challengers from past (and maybe future) years lead in the comments.