Saturday, November 29, 2008

STELLAR Announcements

Here's a post on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page from STELLAR that I thought was particularly interesting:

Team STELLAR Announcements - Here are some excerpts:

We expect and intend to split ALL the prize money with the volunteer organization. ... we expect that there will be bonuses for special achievements. We may need to use some of the prize money to attract funding ...

One of the companies that will be contracting to AARC is the recently formed EarthSpace Commerce Corporation ...

Although developing products and selling them in the marketplace will be the mandate of ESCC and the other for-profit affiliates, other for-profit affiliates will have the same opportunity to develop these products out of this research as any other company or organization with access to AARC’s open-source research results. ...

Finally, we are ramping up our fund-raising efforts ... we are considering filming a documentary.

There are many more posts on the Teams site; keep checking that site for updates from all the teams.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shopping Time

WHAT TO GET A GEEK - Cosmic Log - It's hard to know what to buy for a science geek - so hard that we're offering geeky prizes for the best holiday gift idea.

The article has lots of links to get you started with your idea.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

YouTube Contest Results

YouTube contests as a model for participatory incentive prizes - The Launch Pad - The Crazy Green Idea and Space VidVision contests are compared.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


SPACEHACK - a directory of ways to participate in space exploration. interact + connect with the space community.

The site has a competition page which at the moment has the Google Lunar X PRIZE and some of the Centennial Challenges. The other categories currently are Data Analysis, Education, and Open Source.

The Countdown Has Begun

It's been fun! - Mike J. of the Mystery Google Lunar X PRIZE team - The Secret Identities will be revealed. Will we find anyone on the team named Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ESA T-Shirt Art Winners

ESA astronaut T-shirt art contest winners - Space for All

Google Lunar X PRIZE Rules Update

Google Lunar X PRIZE Rules & Guidelines v3.0 is Out Now - The Launch Pad - For some reason the Cover Letter link didn't work for me.

Update (early November 27): The Cover Letter link is now fixed. The Cover Letter gives a summary of the rule changes, and also mentions the Team Summit on December 15-16. Maybe the teams will be able to make a trip from Mountain View to the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco and do some networking there, too:

Results From SELENE/Kaguya

The Dynamic Lunar Environment I Posters - Maybe some commercial lunar surface teams would be able to offer services similar to MoonLITE?

The Dynamic Lunar Environment II

Phoenicia on Lunar Lander Challenge Decisions

The X Prize Foundation's LLC 2009 Statement - Team Phoenicia:

We look forward to working with the X Prize Foundation and will be watching for what the changes to the LLC will be. Will has always been a good guy to work with.

Peter Orszag and Prizes

Change I Can Believe In - Transterrestrial Musings - The prize part is in the comments:

I was also checking out the former blog of Peter Orszag (from his time as director of the Congressional Budget Office), who Obama just named as director of the Office of Management and Budget. From one of his recent posts, he seems to be a fan of using prizes to encourage technological breakthroughs:

Peter Orszag and Technology Prizes - Mark Whittington - Mark speculates on what it might mean.

NewSpace 2009

NewSpace 2009 - NewSpace 2009 will take place at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley July 17-20, 2009.

2009 Lunar Lander Challenge Approach

2009 Lunar Lander Challenge - format and organization info - RLV News - From the Launch Pad comes a description of how the 2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will be handled:

Moving forward, the concept of conducting a large common event at which all teams fly their vehicles is likely not financially sustainable for the Foundation. Additionally, the conduct of such an event imposes non-negligible expenses on our teams ... the fairest and most sustainable model may prove to be one where each team plays host to a crew of Judges and X PRIZE personnel at a facility of their choice. ... the X PRIZE Foundation is committed to providing all teams a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the 2009 contest ...

Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Prevent Innovation

The Prize Factory - This is a pointer to the recent Business Week article on prizes, with some additional thoughts on successful and possibly unsuccessful prizes. You can probably guess what one of the barriers to success is - and it's not technical.

Singularity University

Will Electric Professors Dream of Virtual Tenure? - The Chronicle of Higher Education (link from the X PRIZE Foundation) - I'm sure they'll dream of electric sheep.

Given the X PRIZE Foundation link, I thought this would be related to their Education X PRIZE plans, but it turns out that it's on plans for a Singularity University:

Most of the biggest proponents of the argument for the singularity are entrepreneurs and others off campus. In fact, the idea for a Singularity University came from Peter Diamandis, who has started several successful companies along with the X Prize Foundation, which promises large cash awards to designers who break specified barriers. (In its first challenge, the foundation gave $10-million to a team that built a working commercial spacecraft.)

Singularity University would be modeled on another of Mr. Diamandis's creations, the little-known International Space University, a graduate-level training center to which NASA and other space agencies have sent students for decades.

X-Prize CEO Peter Diamandis Announces the Formation of a SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY - TechNut News

Singularity University - Some Thoughts On Function - Future Blogger

Vernor Vinge books

2008 Space VidVision Video Contest Winners

2008 Space VidVision Contest winner - RLV News

Lessons from the 2008 Space VidVision Contest - Greg Zsidisin at the Space Review - This has the winners of the cash prizes (the top 3 spots) and a number of honorable mentions. The third place winner advocates private space race with prizes. In the article, Greg gives some ideas on the following:

So what might we do differently for future contests, which we will surely run?

YouTube Video List of the videos

Greg Zsidisin on the Space Show - November 23, 2008 (I haven't caught up to this one yet - I'm still working on the recent Unreasonable Rocket show. With a new youngster to bring up I only get a chance to listen to the shows when I'm doing exercise at home).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Astrobotic Details

Briefs: Red Whitaker and Astrobotic; Space tourism training - RLV News - Here's an excerpt from the 5-page Astrobotic article from Air & Space Magazine:

Manning holds the individual members of Whittaker’s team in high regard. “The good news is that they’ve got incredible talent,” he says. But, he adds, “this is outside the box. It’s not a car, it’s not the DARPA challenge, not a missile. It’s an all new thing—taking the best ideas from very different places and putting them together in a very weird, highly coupled way that’s got to work the first time.”

If Astrobotic can figure out how to test its systems in an integrated way on Earth, Manning thinks the missile-like landing concept can work, even with the ridiculously low (by JPL standards) $100 million budget. “I think they have a shot at it,” he says. When I tell him that Astrobotic hopes to raise enough money for two shots, doubling its chances of success, he is happy to hear it: “That’s wonderful…. I want them to win.”

Whittaker and his financial team are not counting on angels to bankroll them out of kindness. Their business plan is based on the proposition that, before NASA sets up a base on the moon, robots will be making maps and collecting data. If the Astrobotic rover makes it by 2012, or even 2014, when the Google prize expires, it will arrive years ahead of the astronauts.

Rover Navigation

Progress - Micro-Space at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site - Phil Stooke, author of "The International Atlas of Lunar Exploration", has a comment on rover location determination and navigation.

Space Access '09 Date and Location

I'm keeping my tour of some space advocacy groups going ... here's one where I don't know of specific prize connections yet, but I'd be surprised if prizes like the Lunar Lander Challenge and others didn't find their way into the program:

Space Access '09 Preliminary Info Space Access '09, our upcoming 17th annual conference on the technology, politics, and business of radically cheaper access to space, will take place Thursday April 2nd through Saturday April 4th 2009 at the Best Western Grace Inn in Phoenix Arizona. ... We'll be posting a preliminary conference agenda in the coming weeks.

Mars Society TEMPO^3 Multi-Update

Multi-Update - This gives lots of links and short updates on the winner of the Mars Society's competition to pick a major project for the society.

TEMPO^3 blog

Louis L. Stott Foundation Provides Major Donation To The Mars Society - The Mars Society is pleased to announce that the Louis L. Stott Foundation has recently donated $35,000 in the first of a promised series of gifts. This grant will be used to help support the Society's new project, TEMPO³, and to support The Mars Society's membership outreach program. ... "Now that Uncle Sam is printing money around the clock to bail out Wall Street, and NASA seems content to spend the next ten years shooting a re-make of Apollo, the task of tending the Mars torch now falls increasingly to the private sector, where visionaries like Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, and Robert Zubrin are leading the charge," said Foundation Chairman Barry Stott.
By the way, there are a number of recent interesting non-prize posts at the Mars Society portal like the 2009 convention location, the German Mars Society suborbital rocket test, and more.

2009 Mars Rover Challenge for University Students

2009 University Rover Challenge - Call for Entrants - Mars Society:

The Mars Society's Third Annual University Rover Challenge (URC) is seeking the best and brightest college teams to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers for a competition at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah. ...

The 2009 URC rules are now available online. Teams and their rovers will compete in four events: a site survey task, an extremophile search task based on work taking place during the forthcoming MDRS field season, a construction task, and an emergency navigation task that will require teams to deliver emergency supplies to a distressed astronaut in the field. The latter two tasks are back by popular demand from URC 2008 - Oregon State secured their victory in the emergency navigation task, while third place contender York University was the only team to achieve any success during the challenging construction task.

University Rover Challenge
Requirements and Guidelines
University Rover Challenge on Facebook

NSS 2009 Scholarship

NSS Scholarship to the International Space University - The main NSS page has a post today on the scholarship:

For the 2009 scholarship, we are excited to support the Space Studies Program (SSP) to be hosted by the NASA Ames Research Center next summer. This exceptional site will offer students a unique space experience, bringing together NASA’s high technology programs with the excitement of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. For more information about this program, click here.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2009 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards Registration

Call for Entries for Pete Conrad “Spirit of Innovation” Awards - Space for All:

Officials with The Conrad Foundation today announced there are only a few weeks left to register for the Pete Conrad “Spirit of Innovation” Awards. ...

For this year’s competition, student teams will create an entrepreneurial enterprise and develop a concept centered around one of the following: lunar exploration; innovative products for use in personal spaceflight; or answering Al Gore's challenge to craft a clean, carbon-free way of using renewable energy to change everyday life.

Thirty-six teams from across the United States have already signed up to compete. Team profiles are available for public access at

They're starting up a blog and video chat series for the teams. The chat link I gave is actually the general news one, but lots of the posts are on the chat series, with guests like Brain Tanner, Nancy Conrad, and Anousheh Ansari. I'm not on a team (I'm too darn old) so I don't know how the chats are.

Evaluating Innovation Prizes

Can X Prizes Spur Innovation? - Business Week:

A key problem with incentive prizes is that devising one—the kind that attracts capable contestants along with the media focus that motivates well-heeled sponsors to commit big money—is harder than it seems. The goal has to be tantalizing, but the odds can't be so long that the task is impossible. So far, space challenges appear to work best. For starters, there are millions of sci-fi fans around the world. Another promising field is autos, which also has plenty of enthusiasts. In 2010, Diamandis could stir up a frenzy when he promotes his high-mileage car contest with a road rally through a half-dozen U.S. cities. ...

Last April his foundation said it would host a $10 million competition for biofuels, with later awards for the creation of a clean aviation fuel, improved energy storage, and a system to provide water, electricity, and broadband service to villages in the developing world. But the group has pushed back deadlines as Diamandis' deputies studied "hundreds of ideas," says Jaison Morgan, who heads the prize development office. "There are breakthroughs, but not one bold enough for us now. We want a prize that will revolutionize things, to capture the public's imagination."

Will Masters is the first commenter.

Philosophical Divide

Vote for the next green X-Prize - Plenty Magazine on the 3 Crazy Green Idea videos:

One entry focuses on energy efficiency and issues a challenge to communities to dramatically reduce their energy use; the most efficient community wins. A second entry burrows down a layer and encourages homes to go completely off-grid at an affordable cost. The third is technology-specific and asks for an ultracapacitor that would revolutionize electric propulsion. ... The three options span a philosophical divide. Should the entrants be engineers striving for a new, life-changing invention, or should the entrants be ordinary citizens who together find creative ways to be green? Both options have their merits.

Unreasonable on Making a Reasonable 2009 LLC

Unreasonable update and NG-LLC format - RLV News - I always like a post that starts like this:

My next rocket project is to finish up some test stand work for a paying customer I can’t talk about.

There's a discussion about the potential big change from tradition in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge time and location, and ways to make it fair.

I have another solution to make it fair and still not bog down Armadillo unnecessarily: get some more prize money and fund prizes for both a first-to-demonstrate and an X PRIZE Cup event. Well, maybe my solution isn't financially feasible ...

Jon Goff gives some hints about Masten's status in the comments.

Where is Commercial Space in the Planetary Society Roadmap?

GLXP vs. The Planetary Society (aka "Jupiter-Size Potholes In The Planetary Society's Space Exploration Roadmap" - Jeff Krukin from STELLAR on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site - I agree with Jeff that the Planetary Society should feature commercial space more in its roadmap. I also think it should do so in its programs (perhaps in partnership with suborbital ventures). However, I also think they've been slowly getting more and more interested in commercial and private space over the years. For example, they're a Google Lunar X PRIZE supporter (see Planetary Society Joins Private Effort for Moon Mission from SpaceRef), they've worked on their own private space missions, they've held the Apophis Mission Design Competition that SpaceWorks and SpaceDev won, they've featured the Regolith Excavation Challenge and the White Knight 2 rollout in their radio and web programs, and more.

To me that seems like a positive change in emphasis compared to the Planetary Society of 10 or 15 years ago. I don't expect them to completely change overnight. Certainly I think they should keep their planetary emphasis, with private space as an important means to achieve their goals (as opposed to, say, the Space Frontier Foundation, which already exists to support private space as a defining goal). I think it's up to groups like STELLAR to demonstrate the private space efforts can play a more central role in the type of exploration the Planetary Society advocates as much as it's up to the Planetary Society to encourage such private efforts.

As for the Roadmap, I certainly would like to see commercial space featured more prominently where appropriate. However, in contrast with NASA's Constellation program, I actually do see at least the possibility of commercial participation in the Roadmap. The Roadmap emphasizes more detailed lunar robotic exploration before any human landings, which potentially could fit quite well with Google Lunar X PRIZE teams like STELLAR. The initial emphasis on Lagrangian point observatory servicing missions for the human program allows the opportunity for commercial modules according to Aviation Week (on an earlier meeting as the Roadmap was being developed):

The alternative vision would also include far greater private-sector incentives for participation at all levels, an area public surveys cite as very important. Missions to asteroids and Lagrangian points, for example, are likely to carry along Bigelow-type commercial inflatable modules. A recent informal space program survey by The New York Times found substantial public frustration about NASA’s doing what entrepreneurs could do better.

If nothing else a NASA switch to the Roadmap plan might stir up Constellation a bit, which I consider a feature. Even if Constellation were kept, having a non-LEO mission for Ares 1/Orion in the near(er) term (the Lagrangian point mission) might make it more politically possible for commercial space to take care of the ISS crew and cargo transportation role. I also see a possible role for propellant depots in the Roadmap, and these could be run and/or serviced by commercial space. Finally, the Roadmap's emphasis on satellite Earth observations adds a potentially huge opportunity for traditional and New commercial space participation with small satellites, satellite launches, hosted payloads, and Google-Earth style data processing.

Of course most of these opportunities are not spelled out as such in the Roadmap. It would take a lot of business and political work to make such a Roadmap, if adopted by NASA, realize the potential mutually beneficial increased commercial space emphasis I see possibly being enabled. Hopefully the Planetary Society will communicate about opportunities for private space to participate in their Roadmap as part of this process.

X PRIZE Foundation on Facebook

New Facebook Group - neXt PRIZE - The X PRIZE Foundation finally has a group on facebook...

Friday, November 21, 2008

N-Prize RLVs

Briefs: N-Prize update; Esther Dyson's odyssey; Ascender 100 progress - RLV News - The N-Prize rules get adjusted to have 2 categories. One offers the original rules, and the new one encourages reusable launch vehicles.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mars Rover Name Contest

NASA's Name the Rover contest - Space for All - Name the Mars Surface Laboratory, and win WALL-E prizes and a JPL trip.

A Lunar Lander Tradition Is Debated

More concern about NG-LLC format change - RLV News - Some LLC competitors make their voices heard in the comments.

X PRIZE Ready for Holiday Shopping

Announcing the Google Lunar X PRIZE Store! - The Launch Pad

Young Astronomer Essay Competition

SGAC Calls for Creative Young Astronomers via Essay Competition - Spaceref - The age group is 18-22.

SGAC IYA2009 ESSAY COMPETITION - Space Generation Advisory Council

Green Idea Voting and Twenty Registered Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Teams Announced

Voting for the $25,000 "What's Your Crazy Green Idea?" Contest has Begun! - Peter Diamandis at the Huffington Post

Dr Diamandis mentions this:

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Announces First Round of Registered Teams in Competition to Develop 100 MPGe Vehicles
- X PRIZE Foundation press release with links to 20 of the teams (2 are confidential, and over 100 more aren't officially registered)

Los Angeles Auto Show - It was announced there, although the site says the event doesn't start until tomorrow. Maybe that happened at the Sneak Preview Night?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reach for the Stars

Four national Reach for the Stars Rocket Contest winners - Space for All

TrueZerO Past and Future Assessment

TrueZer0: review of NG-LLC; Issues with LLC format change - RLV News

Voting Starts on Crazy Green Idea Finalists

Well, the announcement is marked November 18, and for me it's still well in November 17, but here it is:

X PRIZE Foundation Opens Official Voting for the $25,000 “What’s Your Crazy Green Idea?” Video Contest - X PRIZE Foundation press release - You just have to choose from 3 videos, not all 133.

MIT Sloan School Student One of Three Finalists in “Crazy Green Idea” Contest to Create Energy X Prize - Xconomy Boston - The MIT one suggests a prize for communities that reduce their energy consumption the most. This matches suggestions Tom Vander Ark of the XPF has made for community-based prizes. Another proposes energy independent, off-the-grid homes that are economically feasible. The third proposes a quickly and repeatedly rechargeable, economical, and recyclable battery capable of driving a car 100 miles.

Phoenix Lander Wins Award

NASA Mars Phoenix Lander Receives Award From Popular Science Magazine - SpaceRef

You'll see some other familiar contenders on the PopSci list, like WK2, Rocker Racers, efficient PAXP and similar cars, and the Pipistrel electric plane.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Planetary Defense Student Competition

Planetary Defense Student Competition (related to IAA Planetary Defense Conference) - Planetary Defense - From the post:

ESA is holding a competition for the upcoming Planetary Defense Conference in 2009, in order to stimulate some innovative research and encourage European research students to participate.

student competition
research topics

Papers will be welcomed on a variety of subjects that can be related to the theme of Apophis and small body encounters. Subjects for papers might include, but are not limited to; modelling of the small asteroid environment and related effects (e.g. plasma environment, dust, solar radiation, Yarkovsky effect); geology and geophysics of small bodies, dynamics and control related to Apophis-like rendezvous and interception scenarios; innovative deflection strategies and mission architectures, etc.

The best student paper will be awarded a prize.

Ansari and Charania at Global Space Technology Forum

The Global Space Technology Forum will be held this November 16-18 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. One of the speakers will be Anousheh Ansari, title sponsor of the Ansari X PRIZE. (Here's her appearances page).

A.C. Charania, who participated in and publicized the Apophis mission design contest and related student contests, is also a speaker there. See Planetary Defense blog.

The conference also includes many other prominent speakers and organizations in the global space industry, including several entrepreneurial ones.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lots of Interesting Google Lunar X PRIZE News Today

Private project recovers 1960s lunar orbiter image data - RLV News - This project includes GLXP team Odyssey Moon. From Odyssey Moon Collaborates with NASA Funded Team Recovering Never Seen Before Detailed Images of the Moon:

Odyssey Moon Limited, the first official contender in the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE, announced today it is a participant in the NASA Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) underway at the NASA Ames Research Center. The purpose of the LOIRP is to digitize the imagery available of the lunar surface taken in the 1960’s by five NASA Lunar Orbiter missions sent to the Moon in advance of the Apollo program. ... In support of the project Odyssey Moon supported the salary of an intern who provided direct support to the project's refurbishment of the original data tape drives. Odyssey Moon has also provided funding to the team to allow specific areas of the publicly released imagery to be enhanced for use in mission planning. ... Odyssey Moon became involved with the LOIRP with the hope of acquiring additional stereo imagery from the datasets that could help identify safe landing sites and areas of scientific and exploration interest.

New Rendering of Odyssey Moon Lander - The Launch Pad

Moon Mission Competition - LunaTrex - They describe a student competition they held with a Moon surface mission theme.

Jaluro: Just Another Lunar Rover FredNet

I recently mentioned that many people with space prize connections are speaking at the SpaceVision 2008 SEDS conference. Will Pomerantz is one of them, and he has a lot more to say about it at The Launch Pad:

SpaceVision 2008 - I challenged the SEDS students, saying that there should be "a Google Lunar X PRIZE team for every SEDS Chapter, and a SEDS Chapter for every Google Lunar X PRIZE team."

SpaceVision (continued) - More on the SEDS Challenge

Catching Up on LLC and GLXP

Here's a number of RLV News updates on LLC and GLXP teams. There's a little bit of overlap with things I've posted on before in the multi-part posts, but not too much:

Spacers in Discover Magazine - including Paul Breed from Unreasonable Rocket

Briefs: ARCA update; LunarTrex videos; Odyssey Moon and Ames lander - The Ames lander reminds one of the LLC.

Video - Pixel flight attempt and Carmack's post mortem of it

Briefs: Unreasonable plans; High performance monoprop - Unreasonable isn't being held back by any means.

Videos: BBC at Mojave Spaceport; Space law panel; TrueZer0 interview - I didn't have time to watch the whole Space law panel when it was originally posted, but it's chaired by a GLXP team member.

Renewable Energy Investment Prize

Invest Renewable X PRIZE - The Renewable Energy Initiative - This is one of the entries in the "Crazy Green Idea" X PRIZE contest. The proposal is to reward $10M to the first group to invest $10B (e.g., in retirement plans) in renewable energy. I don't know how well the general idea would work in the business or legal world, but as often happens I wonder how it would work for the space industry.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ILEA Awards, GLXP and Other

International Lunar Exploration Awards 2008 - The Moon Blog - I already posted about the GLXP awards. This has a lot more details about all of the award winners and categories.

General Aviation Prize Updates

The CAFE Foundation made several short announcements recently:

The CAFE Aviation Green Prize
The CAFE Foundation has developed and submitted to NASA a detailed proposal for the CAFE Aviation Green Prize, a $1M flight competition for safe, practical aircraft that can simultaneously demonstrate ≥ 100 MPG and ≥ 100 mph. Aimed to attract university teams to compete, the event is currently proposed as a 200 statute mile race in July 2010 that would favor aircraft propelled by electricity. Stayed tuned here for its official announcement.

CAFE visits Stanford's DARPA Challenge Vehicle
3rd Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium

CAFE Foundation's Aviation Green Prize - AVweb

Prize Capital and BioMarine 2008

"A Peace Treaty with Nature" Prize Capital Chairman Lee Stein Keynotes BioMarine 2008 - Here's the prepared statement (PDF). Page 5 has a section that explains their prize and investment model. Here's an excerpt:

Renewable Energy Prize

Current renewable fuels technologies are criticized for being inefficient, costly, unsustainable and incompatible with existing vehicles and infrastructure. The Prize Capital Renewable Energy Prize will accelerate development of breakthrough technologies for sustainable, small-scale decentralized production systems for liquid transport fuel. Prize rules will produce a winning technology that is energy- and cost-efficient, sustainable and compatible with today’s infrastructure. Draft prize rules were developed with a panel of expert advisors representing the Natural Resources Defense Council, Shell International Gas, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Federation of American Scientists, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and more.

Organizational Roles

Prize Capital will stimulate capital for emerging inventors and provide the investment funds for competitors. Prize Capital intends for the X PRIZE Foundation (XPF), the leading global mega-prize producer, to manage the prize competition. Prize Capital also seeks to develop advanced market commitments with international agencies and governments.

Lunar X PRIZE Updates from Numerous Teams

ARCA - Updates, Propulsion tests for HP/HDPE, AGI - Space Fellowship - The ARCA site also has the brief news items.

A Few New Videos from our Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams - The Launch Pad collects some GLXP Teams videos.

Battle of the Rockets

The Praxis Inc Battle of the Rockets - The Spring competition is April 4, 2009 in Culpeper, Virginia. It includes high school and college events with altitude, Mars lander, and CanSat themes. The link is from the 2009 CanSat site.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

AAS National Conference

AAS National Conference and Annual Meeting - American Astronautical Society - As expected there are lots of good talks planned for this one, too. It's on November 17-19. Of special interest on this blog are the prize personalities, which appear in the Space Entrepreneurs section of the program:

10:00 Session 5: Space Entrepreneurs

Moderator: Paul Eckert, International & Commercial Strategist, Boeing IDS – Space Exploration, The Boeing Company


Thomas C. Taylor, Vice President, Lunar Transportation Systems, Inc.
Robert D. Richards, CEO, Odyssey Moon Limited
John Kohut, CEO, Astrobotic Technology Inc.
Kris Zacny, Director, Drilling and Excavation Systems, Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation

I've discussed the 2 Google Lunar X PRIZE teams numerous times, and today I want to take a look at the others:

Lunar Transportation Systems - This is founded by Walter Kistler and Bob Citron.

Honeybee Robotics - This is a quite different type of space entrepreneur.

Prize Speakers at SpaceVision 2008 SEDS Conference

SpaceVision 2008 - SEDS - This conference will be held November 14-16 at Texas A&M. That's this upcoming weekend. A number of prize-related speakers are on the schedule. Here's my list of prize personalities (and I'm probably overlooking some - at any rate the non-prize speakers look like a good representation, too):

Peter Diamandis - Founder, X-Prize Foundation
Robert Richards - CEO, Odyssey Moon
Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides - Founder, Yuris Night
Neil Milburn - Armadillo Aerospace
Will Pomerantz - Senior Director of Space Projects, X-Prize Foundation
Ken Davidian - Office of Commercial Space, Federal Aviation Administration

2009 CanSat Teams and Workshop

2009 CanSat Field Set - American Astronautical Society -

Participants in the 2009 CanSat Competition are set to launch their payloads from Amarillo, Texas, June 12-14, 2009. The 2008 champions from the University of New Hampshire are returning to defend their title against a field of new and returning teams, including:

... see the linked post for the big list of teams ...

From the CanSat web site, here's information about a workshop that I speculate will happen during the competition, based on the application due date of April 30, 2009:

Friday from 10AM to 3PM, we will have a workshop available to any participating team member and faculty advisor.


1. Build a high power rocket. You can build a rocket similar to the competition rocket and fly it on an H motor. ...

2. Satellite Tool Kit Training. Instead of watching the epoxy dry, Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) will provide training and demonstrations on their Satellite Tool Kit software during rocket construction. ...

National Academies Communication Awards

SCI-TECH SAMPLING FOR VETERANS DAY - Cosmic Log - From Alan: I'll be on the road for a couple of days for the National Academies Communication Awards ...

From the linked awards site (picking the winners, including Cosmic Log, with obvious space connections):

Walter Isaacson for Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster), a comprehensive and scholarly ambitious look at the life and mind of the pre-eminent scientific figure of the 20th century. ...

George Butler (director), White Mountain Films, Kennedy-Marshall Films and Walt Disney Company for Roving Mars ...

Alan Boyle, science editor, for selected works from Cosmic Log and his pioneering efforts to bring daily coverage of the physical sciences, technological innovation and space sciences to broad new audiences on a popular news web site. ...

Monday, November 10, 2008

GLXP Wins the Florida Election

Some Nice Results - The GLXP doesn't just award prizes, it wins them, too.

Space Elevator Reference Changes

What’s new at the Space Elevator Reference? - Space Elevator Blog - The Space Elevator References has gotten an overhaul, with various social media and collaboration tools. Here's the Space Elevator Games Open Wiki page.

Open Innovation

Here are a couple of posts from Open Innovation, a blog that offers a practical view on innovation, open science, crowdsourcing - topics that aren't too far from innovation prizes:

Google’s Project 10 to the 100

Sun and Open Source - This mentions the winners of the Sun OpenOffice Community Innovation Challenge. Here's another link since I couldn't get theirs to work. OpenOffice is a free (doesn't cost anything and you're free to change the code) product with applications similar to Microsoft Office, but using non-proprietary standards.

Here's a link to Sun's $1M Community Innovation Awards Program, with prizes in the following areas: Project GlassFish, NetBeans, OpenJDK, OpenOffice, OpenSPARK, and OpenSolaris. At least some of the competitions are over.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Geospatial Applications Contest

The 8th Geospatial Solutions Applications Contest - Geospatial Solutions - The contest ends November 28. The site seems to heavily cover Earth imaging and remote sensing in general, as well as GPS, so applications would likely include some of those space technologies.

Submit an approximately 500-word description of your innovative or cost-effective application of geospatial technologies, using the form below. ... Include two to four maps or other images (JPG, BMP, EPS, or TIFF files) that illustrate the project. You will be able to attach the images after clicking "Submit Now."

Space Prize Roundup - November 9, 2008

The Phoenix - The Suburbanite (Akron, Ohio) - This features the Springfield High School TARC team.

CanSat Competition - TU Delft - This is another CanSat competition I don't think I've linked to before.

ESA robotic rover competition results - Space for All - This is more coverage of the recently held ESA rover competition.

2009 Reach for the Stars Rocket Contest - Space for All - The celebration is this weekend.

Google Lunar X Prize Preferred Providers Offer Variety of Discounts - Parabolic Arc - This includes an FAA COMSTAC presentation on the GLXP (including the discounts and other GLXP subjects) and the LLC by Bretton Alexander.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Non-Space Prize Roundup - November 7, 2008

Comments on a Health Care X PRIZE - neXt PRIZE - Their Health Care X PRIZE request for ideas is generating feedback.

What's Your Crazy Green Idea? Contest - neXt PRIZE - The contest is over, and you thought voting was over for a while too, but now it's time to vote on the contest's winning videos.

T-Mobile Utilizes Accelerometers in New G1 With Android - Space 2.0 Blog - It's a space blog, and there are space aspects to the application, but from the consumer point of view it's a down-to-Earth product. The prize links are indirect; the winner of their 2007 Business Plan competition, Lumedyne, is mentioned, and Google Android itself includes a $10M prize competition for software applications on that mobile platform.

Dreamforce: Neil Young shows off his green machine - CNet News (link from X PRIZE Foundation news scroller) - Automotive X PRIZE contestant Neil Young and partners shows off their vehicle. Long may you run.

Boyz Under the Hood - Rolling Stone (linke from X PRIZE Foundation news scroller) - In addition to clocking their suburban opponents at state science fairs, the EVX Club has crushed colleges and high-financed corporate start-ups with back-to-back titles in the coveted Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Tour De Sol, a prestigious eco-car challenge. They modified a Saturn to run on soybean fuel, and transformed a Slovakian kit car into a wildly sporty hybrid called the Hybrid X. "Hybrids don't have to be slow and ugly like a Prius," says 18-year-old EV member, Lawrence Jones-Mahoney. "They can be efficient and cool." ... Car geeks rank West Philly High in the top 10 X-Prize teams to take the trophy.

X PRIZE Foundation - RaySquirrel - An Obama poster highlights the X PRIZE Foundation.

PowerBeam Beams Wireless Electricity Into Devices - Space 2.0 Blog (link from Space for All) - It's not the Beam Power Competition, but it uses a similar concept:

Using technology originally developed for space based applications, California-based start-up PowerBeam, has brought the concept down to earth by developing and patenting a wireless electricity delivery system that delivers electrical power to any location in a room without sending the power through wires. ... PowerBeam’s founders are focused on stationary products that truly benefit from the freedom of “cutting the cord” or products that claim to be wireless but are still tethered to a power cord. The initial applications the company plans to introduce are: digital photo frames, wireless speakers, LED lamps and other related LED lighting products, all of which are markets that the company says have been experiencing rapid growth.

The “Giggle Factor” Fades When Wild Ideas Become Real - Space 2.0 Blog - The blog has more on beamed power and non-space applications.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

ESA Moon Rover Winner

ESA Moon Rover Competition Won by University of Bremen Team - White Label Space

Obama and Moon Policy

What President Obama Means for Moon Colonization and Private Space Policy (Immediate Action?) - Luna C/I - The analysis features the Google Lunar X PRIZE and some of the GLXP teams' other proposed activities. There's a certain amount of speculation in the analysis - we can't be sure yet that the Obama that takes office will be the one with the recent space policy with strong support for commercial space, or the earlier one that didn't feature commercial space at all and that delayed even government lunar efforts. I think we'll know soon ...

President Obama and the Lunar X Prize: An Ideal Match? - Luna C/I posts on the GLXP forums.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Google Earth Prizes, Awards, and Competitions

The next 3 sections are all from the Google Earth Blog:

Google Geo Challenge Grants - Up to $100,000 - Here's the GEO Challenge Grant post. I was recently thinking it would be a good idea for the X PRIZE Foundation to have a competition like their Crazy Green Idea for YouTube energy/environment videos, but using the Google Earth application to promote their X PRIZEs. Maybe this grant competition is a way for someone to do something similar (although the GEO Challenge Grants competition would be based on the idea and not for the ultimate result).

The Ultimate Where's Wally on Google Earth - Anyone who finds Wally's location on any individual day will be entered into a prize draw to win loads of Wally's merchandise. Anyone who finds all seven secret locations on Google Earth will then need to enter all the longitude and latitude references on the Borders website to get to the final round. The winner, drawn at random, will win a fantastic holiday to Wally's secret final destination.

Google Earth-based Virtual Alabama Wins GCN Award - GCN = Government Computer News

Winners of Panoramio Contest of July and August 2008 - This one is from the Panoramio blog. Pick a few images that strike you and see where on Earth they're from. Some of them seem to be from somewhere else altogether.

July 2008
August 2008

Lunar Prize Roundup - November 3, 2008

Briefs: Unreasonable 4-engine concept; NM taxt vote; Learning from Armadillo - RLV News - This is mainly for the Unreasonable Lessons Unlearned (not to point back to myself).

The Big News from Last Week - The Launch Pad - You know the news already if you've been keeping up on this kind of thing, but I for one hadn't seen the NASA video of the Modular Common Spacecraft Bus that will be used on LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) and possibly other missions. It may remind you of the Lunar Lander Challenge.

Slashdotted - Astrobotic (GLXP Teams site)

The Space Review and the Space Show this week - RLV News - Unreasonable Rocket will be on the Space Show, and Jeff Foust reviews the recent ISPCS and LLC events in text and imagery.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

LaserMotive Lunar Lander Lessons

Armadillo’s Lunar Lander Challenge Win & Lessons Learned - LaserMotive - The beam power team takes a cue from Armadillo and follows the "test, test, and test some more" motto.

We Weren’t Even Driving a Car - LaserMotive

Otero Vote

Spaceport studies reflect positive impact in Otero - Alamorordo Daily News editorial - The Armadillo and Rocket Racing combination is mentioned as part of the evidence the county is likely to benenfit from the spaceport tax. Is the Virgin Galactic $1 B+ of passengers booked accurate?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Diamandis Endorsement

Ex-astronauts and endorsements - Space Politics - This post covers different space leader endorsements and campaigning for the 2 Presidential candidates. Peter Diamandis of the X PRIZE Foundation is endorsing Obama. The text of the endorsement doesn't mention prizes (Obama's newer space policy document favors space prizes and student competitions), but it does prominently mention the ITAR weapons export control regime that seems to have dealt a blow to U.S. commercial space just about every week for years, judging from Space News stories.

Here's the ITAR excerpt from the endorsement, which seems to make the case that ITAR as currently applied to commercial space is actually damaging our national security:

As a leader in the commercial space industry, I am seriously concerned that the United States has been losing its leadership in this strategic industry. Our antiquated State Department export policies and the lack of ambitious and inspiring programs are causing a steady erosion in our share of the commercial launch industry. The rest of the world is catching up fast, and their space capabilities may one day challenge our national security.

Just do a Google search for ITAR-free, which doesn't mean "free us from ITAR", it's a marketing slogan used by non-U.S. space vendors to advertise that their products don't contain any U.S. parts whatsoever, meaning that they are free from ITAR restrictions.