Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Space Year in Review

2008 In Review: The Year In Aerospace - Aero-News Network - The highlights for 2008 include Google Lunar X PRIZE, Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, X PRIZE aviation fuel investigation, and Rocket Racing League events.

Ocean Race on Google Earth

Links: Santa Tracker Popular, Volvo Ocean Race, Lost World Discovered, Cold War KML - Google Earth Blog - I'm including the GEB post for this prize-related portion:

Volvo Ocean Race - The official site of the Volvo Ocean Race (a round-the-world sailboat race with multi-person crews in 70 mono-hulls capable of 30 knot speeds), has released a Google Earth file that lets you track the boats as they complete their journey. The GE Volvo Race tracker includes placemarks with links to pictures, stories, and videos.

The Google Earth Blog has a lot of other recent posts worth checking out: World Sunlight Map, New 3D Cities, Alps Ski Information Layer, The Year 2008, and New Improved Ancient Rome 3D. I'll just provide the links to those Google Earth innovations without further comment since I don't see any prize connections there. They're just cool is all.

$20,000 Countdown Tonight: 10, 9, 8, 7 ...

Hey, Potential Teams! - The Launch Pad - From Will from the X PRIZE Foundation:

The registration fee for the Google Lunar X PRIZE goes up from $10,000 (USD) to $30,000 (USD) on January 1st, 2009. ...

My mailbox has been very busy over the past few weeks with new registrations and new letters of intent. ...

Buckeye Regional FIRST 2009 Kick Off

High School Robotics Competition Kicks Off on Jan. 3 - SpaceRef

The event will feature a live satellite broadcast by NASA Television from the FIRST Headquarters in Manchester, N.H. Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of FIRST, will reveal the game, playing field and rules for the 2009 competition. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Soyuz Patch Contest Winner

Russian girl wins Soyuz crew patch artwork contest - Space for All

Under the rules of the contest, which was organized by Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, with the cooperation of other nations' space programs including NASA, children ages 6 to 15 from around the world had from Oct. 25 to Christmas day 2008 to create and submit their idea for a patch in the form of a drawing, painting or computer-assisted design.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mystery Scientist

Greetings from Mare Ingenii - Bad Astronomy/Universe Today Forum - We now know who the Google Lunar X PRIZE Mystery Team is, but who is this?

Let's just be minimalist for the moment, and on a strictly "need to know" basis, allow me to introduce myself to this celebrated forum as a humble planetary scientist of some reputation. I am degreed in astronomy and geology and am overpaid for working for a small start-up company presently headquartered at Research Triangle Park between Durham and Raleigh in North Carolina. I'm also spending too much time, of late, at something called the Global TransPark, to the east. My present project is work in support of two teams qualified to compete for the Google Lunar X-Prize, which lately seems, at least in their cases, more attainable than I would have dreamed possible at this stage. (WAY ahead of schedule.)

Flickring Beam Power

Kicking and screaming into the 21st Century… - The Space Elevator Blog - Part of the 21st century includes internet photo albums, and the Space Elevator Blog is making some for past Space Elevator Games.

Joe Space Tourist

Joe Space Tourist - The link I'm giving is for the X PRIZE tag from the "Joe Space Tourist" blog. This excerpt from an early post gives a summary of Joe Space Tourist's mission:

The $200,000 price tag gave me three choices. I could give up on my dream, but for me, that's not an option. I could wait for more companies to enter the arena and prices to drop; this could very well happen, but I don't want to rely on it. So my third option is to spend my life working toward this. That is what I have decided to do.

In other words, I'm not here to say that anyone can do this. Not everyone can. It's going to take a hell of a lot of drive, determination, careful planning, and above all, the ability to turn nay-sayers into fuel for the fire. Anyone who tells me I can't do this only makes me more determined to prove them wrong. In other words, what I am saying is that anyone with these qualities can do this. You, too, can go to space.

And I'm going to prove it.

Investing in Future Prizes

Gulf investors in talks over 'world changing' contest -

Gulf investors are in talks over a series of $100 million contests that will aim to foster “world-changing” breakthroughs in fields such as space exploration and life sciences.


Diamandis said future contests may focus on mapping the ocean floor, boosting food production, and a concept he called ‘Human 2.0’ — where, for example, “a person who is severely handicapped from spinal cord injuries could be given the ability to regain their functionality”.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lunar Prizes Roundup - December 27, 2008

China's role in commercial space on hold - World Security Network (link from the X PRIZE Foundation)

Why I like this project.... - Unreasonable Rocket

Merry Christmas - Unreasonable Rocket

Rover computer prototype - Googlokhod

The Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams continue to post a lot, including a number of introductions from EuroLuna, a Christmas poem that's fair to all of the teams by STELLAR, a review of open source hardware by Frednet, and more.

X PRIZE Cars Blog Change

End of Automotive X Prize News: Dec 21st, 2008 - X PRIZE Cars blog - It may be the last of the weekly news roundups, but the site will continue (and maybe do more of) its other features.

Weird Science Awards


End of Year Link Cleanup

I did a little link cleanup, adding the new Google Lunar X PRIZE teams, removing the V-Prize and unofficial Regolith Excavation Challenge links (which were obsolete), and adding Space Show interviews on Unreasonable Rocket, Odyssey Moon, and the Conrad Awards.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams, Many Showing Hardware

Space Disco Vidcast Covers New Teams - The Launch Pad

ARCA Unveils Haas Launch Vehicle - The Launch Pad
Haas, ARCA's orbital rocket launcher unveiled today - ARCA on Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site

Jaluro's First Test Drive - Frednet on Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site

Solid rocket engine mockup for lunar rover - Selene 0n Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site

Layered chassis mold - Astrobotic on the Teams site
Renowned CMU roboticist sets his sights on the moon - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

InterPlanetary Ventures - Joining the Human Synergy Moon Project - The Space Fellowship

Holiday Tweeting

Tweet A Last-Minute Gift To Charity - Washington Post - This quick article points out that you can use tweets to give to causes like the Google Lunar X PRIZE.

AAS Slides

Here's another place you can find a lot of slide presentations: AAS Slideshows

Preparing for Moon 2.0 - Robert Richards has a version of the Odyssey Moon one here, too.


Maybe they were there, but I didn't notice the slide presentations from the LEAG-ICEUM-SRR Joint Annual Meeting at meeting time. Here are some related to Google Lunar X PRIZE teams:

The New Race to the Moon - Dr. Robert Richards of Odyssey Moon
Astrobotic Technology Inc. - Robotic precursors to build a lunar data library - David Gump
International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) October 2008 Update - Steve Durst

This one might be fun for MoonROx teams to check out:

Solar Thermal Power System for Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith: Engineering System Development - Takashi Nakamura, Benjamin K. Smith, and Robert J. Gustafson

These are of general prize interest:

NASA ESMD Commercial Partnerships - Rob Kelso (with a tiny prize goal hint)
ESA’s Lunar Robotics Challenge - Gianfranco Visentin, Bernard Foing, Scott Hovland, Roger Walker, Andres Galvez

These are just a sample.

Sunday, December 21, 2008 Prize Comment

This is something my searching turned up on, which I should mention is not the Obama transition team site.

I'm going to cut-and-paste the whole proposal here:

X-Prize Style Competions to Solve technological hurdles.
I Feel that if we were to begin having regular competitions for inventors and researchers we can put our country back on the top of the technology game instead lulling behind the japanese in so many fields.

Is It Space?

Here are a couple prizes that sound like they're space ones, but they aren't:

Alabama Launchpad - In spite of the name, this is a business plan competition. It's oriented towards new technology businesses, so there's no reason a good space business plan couldn't win it, but it's not focused on space.

Griffin Poetry Prize -
There once was a rocket that shook
To save he'd do all that it took
Scrap Science and sats
and airplanes and CATS
and everything else in the book!

Oh, that's not what they were looking for? Sorry, move along ...

The Griffin Poetry Prize is founded by Scott Griffin, who I would hazard a guess is not related to the NASA Administrator. As for Administrator Griffin, I actually agree with some of the things he's done, but, as you might guess from the lame lyric above, I don't agree with a certain central feature of his plan.

Here's one that is related to space, even though it doesn't sound like it: Miami 2008 - A topical conference on elementary particles, astrophysics, and cosmology ... During the conference, we will give software awards to promising young participants in recognition of their contributions to the meeting. The awards consist of single-user, licensed copies of Maple, Mathematica, Matlab, and Scientific Workplace, the latter including a copy of MuPAD.

Today is that last day of the conference. It's just a coincidence that I ran across it today, since for all of the above prizes I was just surfing around the Big Fat Prize list.

Space Elevator Overview

Orbital express: Forget rockets: advances in nanotechnology may soon make a trip into space as easy as riding an elevator. - Cosmos Magazine, The Science of Everything - This 5-page article in the Australian science magazine features the space elevator idea, including the Space Elevator Games. The article features comments from Brad Edwards, Ben Shelef, David Livingston, Ken Davidian, Barbara Thompson, and Ted Semon.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Prize Quotes

Relevant Quotations - The Commercial Space Wiki - There's a whole section there with quotes about innovation prizes that I didn't notice until now when I checked the wiki's recent updates.

Iranian Award Winners Around the World

In The Spotlight: International Awards and the Accomplished Iranians Who Have Earned Them - Payvand's Iran News - Most readers that pay attention to cinema will know about at least some of the numerous film awards Iranians have won, and the Ansari X PRIZE is probably the most well-known and ground-breaking one so far of the ones covered here. This post covers these, and also awards in a number of other areas, many of which are key to space like business, math, and science, and many others of which are rising in importance to the space field.

Carmack on Armadillo and Tesla

Armadillo Aerospace update - RLV News

PISCES Final Reports and Symposium

Here are a few links about the PISCES Design Competition:

2009 Competition
2008 Competition - The 2 winners (from MIT and Virginia Tech) get travel expenses to the PISCES conference in Hawai‘i. Here are their final reports cut and posted from the 2008 Competition link:

MIT Final Report
Development of the PISCES Analog Site to Support Planetary Exploration Architecting and Operations (1.9MB)
Virginia Tech Final Report

Lunar Construction and Resource Extraction Utilizing Lunar Regolith (1.3MB)

2008 Symposium

NASA Innovative Partnerships Presentation - including several Centennial Challenges highlight slides a bit more than halfway into the presentation (other innovative IPP efforts are also featured)

Genomics Prices

This is relevant to the Archon Genomics X PRIZE: GENOME PRICES SLASHED - Cosmic Log

Update: ... and for the space purists it features a whole section with investor Esther Dyson.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Entertainment Gathering

Peter Diamandis Pioneers Private Space Travel - - The Entertainment Gathering 2008 - Monterey, CA - Dec 12th, 2008

Unfortunately I'll have to wait until later today to watch it, so I can't give a summary.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hallway Art Contest

Good art hunting - MIT physics teacher tests art knowledge in hallway contest - MIT News

Next Day for Next Giant Leap - MIT View

Here's some more coverage of the new Google Lunar X PRIZE team, Next Giant Leap:

Robotic Moon Race Heats Up - Technology Review (MIT)

MIT joins $30 million race to the moon - Aero-Astro professors, students are part of mystery team in lunar competition - MIT News

A Quick Overview

Show Me the Money - Popular Science gives a quick overview of a few innovation prizes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

KC Space Pirates and "Space Pioneers"

The latest from the KC Space Pirates - Space Elevator Blog

Next Giant Leap

GLXP mystery team is Next Giant Leap - RLV News


'Mystery' Lunar X Prize team unveiled - CNet News

Mystery Team for the Google Lunar X Prize Reveals Team at NASA Ames Research Center - Commercial Space Watch - Next Giant Leap announces team members including MicroSat Systems, MIT, Draper Laboratory, Busek, and Aurora Flight Sciences

Next Giant Leap at Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site

Next Giant Leap home page

Next Giant Leap to Take Next Small Step in Google Lunar X Prize - Parabolic Arc

Prizes and Obama's Administration

Briefs: Next-gen spacesuit combo; Transition interest in prizes; Space reading - RLV News - From the linked Parabolic Arc post:

X Prize Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis said that the incoming Obama Administration has reached out to his non-profit group to explore offering incentive prizes to spur innovation in a number of areas. ...

The X Prize founder mentioned two prominent individuals involved in the transition who has sought out the group’s help: Lori Garver, who is heading up the NASA team; and Tom Kalil, a member of the Technology, Innovation & Government Reform group. Kalil is Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Science and Technology at UC Berkeley.

Space readers will already be familiar with Lori Garver. Here's a document that Thomas Kalil wrote with John Irons:

A National Innovation Agenda - Progressive Policies for Economic Growth and Opportunity Through Science and Technology - From the document:

We also need to increase the impact of our investment in R&D and experiment with new tools
for promoting innovation such as prizes and Advance Market Commitments. ... Congress should pass legislation that gives federal agencies the authority to support prizes and Advance Market Commitments. This legislation should encourage agencies to partner with non-profit groups and the private sector, which would take the lead on public relations, defining the rules, recruiting additional and philanthropic sponsors, and selecting the judges. The legislation should make clear that the government can make commitments to prizes and AMCs that are legally binding, and not subject to the whims of the annual appropriations process. Finally, the legislation should allow agencies to experiment with a broad range of topics, prize amounts, and rules.

There is more there about innovation prizes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

List of Student Competitions

This Week in Ed Tech - This blog features a list of competitions for K-12 students. A lot of the competitions are relevant to the traditional math-engineering-science view of space, and most of the rest are relevant to the broader view of space a lot of advocates hope to help bring about.

I'll just feature a few of the contests:

2009 Challenge: Explore the Volcano! - Tech Challenge:

Scientists would benefit from having a low-cost device to transport sensor packages to the center of a volcano. This low-cost delivery device does not need to make a round trip - it simply needs to deliver the payload to the desired location without damaging it. After that, it can remain in the volcano.

Your challenge is to design a simple device that can safely deliver a small payload to a specific target inside a volcano. Of course, we don't have a real volcano at The Tech, so we have created a simulated one for this challenge. Check out the
drawings of the volcano Test Rig.

World of Escher - This link takes you to their hall of fame from past contests.

The Fountainhead Essay Contest - Ayn Rand Institute

San Francisco and Silicon Valley Events

As most of you probably know, a lot of prize-related announcements and presentations are happening in the same region over the course of a few days:

Human-Tended Suborbital Science Workshop - RLV News - Ken Davidian has posted on the Commercial Space Wiki his Tweeter notes (pdf)

from the workshop. Ken is the former head of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, and the workshop includes some Lunar Lander Challenge personalities.

Two new GLXP teams debut - RLV News

New teams join $30 million moon rover contest - MSNBC - This has some more details on the teams, and a links cool pictures of the teams' rocket car and "mobile phone on wheels".

EuroLuna, or European Lunar Exploration Association
EuroLuna Google Lunar X PRIZE page

Selene Team - As they say, they're not to be confused with the SELENE mission.
Selene Google Lunar X PRIZE page - They have a rocket car video posted already.

American Geophysical Union Kaguya Briefing - Lunar Networks - It's not about prizes, but the Lunar X PRIZE teams might be interested in this type of information being discussed nearby.

2008 AGU Medalists - The ceremony and banquet will be held Wednesday at the San Francisco Marriott. Here are the awards most obviously related to space:

Gerald J. Wasserburg
William Bowie Medal - For important contributions to earth and planetary sciences resulting from his developments in the field of radiogenic isotope geochemistry.

Robert L. Parker
Adam Fleming Medal - For his longstanding work in electromagnetic induction, resistivity sounding, and within the areas of seamount magnetism; statistical models of palaeosecular variation; numerical methods for potential field modeling applied to the crust and core; and rigorous theories for extremal inversions for magnetisation structure on Earth and on Mars.

H. Jay Melosh
Harry H. Hess Medal - For predictions, innovations, and contributions to our understanding of important phenomena in geophysics and planetary physics.

Charles C. Counselman III
Charles A. Whitten Medal - For development and use of systems to receive and combine Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite signals to determine positions on Earth’s surface of these

(Sorry, I put what I could get from the last sentence, but the actual awards PDF is cut off like that).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Space TweetUp

The Launch Pad has a number of picture-filled posts from their Silicon Valley Space TweetUp, including some personalities you might recognize. I'll just link to a couple posts; you can find the rest easily enough:

Will with one of the new Team members

Space TweetUp - The turnout was pretty spectacular--a very effective argument for the power of social networking. We had members of Google Lunar X PRIZE teams, Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams, NASA Ames staff, and a variety of other space friends who either live here or who were in town for our Summit, the AGU meeting, or the human-tended suborbital science meeting.

Pics from Silicon Valley Space Tweetup

Armadillo on Planetary Society Radio; Planetary Society and Commercial Space

The Planetary Society got a lot of criticism from advocates of commercial space (among others) during the release of its Roadmap for human space exploration. There's no doubt that their main focus is on scientific exploration, but it seems to me that they've gradually been paying more attention to, and becoming more active with, commercial and other private space efforts over the years. There are many examples of this trend, some of which I've posted about here. Here's another, where they introduce a commercial space entrepreneur to the space science community:

Armadillos in Space - Planetary Radio for the Week of December 15, 2008 - Armadillo Aerospace just won the biggest NASA Centennial Challenge yet, but Vice President and co-founder Neil Milburn tells us the tiny rocket company has other ambitious goals.

On a non-prize note, while I'm on the subject, here are some old items related to the Roadmap and commercial space. The current Roadmap doesn't spell out these points; hopefully they are still in there and the Society will bring them, or measures like them, to the forefront as a compliment and aid to their main science goals as expressed in the Roadmap.

Congressional Testimony of Shuttle Astronaut Kathryn Thornton - Planetary Society:

One of the roles of entrepreneurial space ventures should be to help NASA get out of the business of routine transportation to LEO for cargo and crews as soon as practical. ...

As long as NASA is the owner, operator and sole customer of transportation services to LEO in this country, there is no competition for services and limited access to space. However, the emerging entrepreneurial space industry projects growing demand for access to space by foreign governments who want to get into the space business, from multinational corporations and from tourists. NASA is investing in commercial space transportation services through the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project (COTS) for cargo to the ISS, and eventually crew transport as well. Bigelow Aerospace and Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services are engaged in discussions on the Atlas 5 as the launch vehicle to provide crew and cargo transportation services to a Bigelow-built space complex in the near term.

As NASA refocuses on exploration, commercial ventures that will replace NASA as the sole US human space transportation system should be encouraged and incentivized by NASA and by Congress. Assurances that NASA would become a customer, not a competitor, in LEO would strengthen the business case for companies who are investing in this venture.

Space Leaders Work To Replace Lunar Base With Manned Asteroid Missions - Aviation Week:

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.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Prize Roundup - December 14, 2008

Today's roundup post covers quite a diverse group of prizes:

An X Prize for government - on a budget - FastGov: Where Government is Going - This covers a competition for mash-up types of software applications (which I take to mean software tools that use existing applications and merge their data and processing capabilities in a value-added sort of way). The goal is to develop applications to present Washington, DC government (the city government, not the Federal one) information. It's over, but it wasn't held all that long ago:

Apps for Democracy - An Innovation Contest - From the site: Apps for Democracy will feature 60 cash prizes from $2000 to $100 dollars for a total of $20,000 in prizes. Developers and designers will compete by creating web applications, widgets, Google Maps mash-ups, iPhone apps, Facebook apps, and other digital utilities that visualize OCTO’s Data Catalog, which provides real-time data from multiple agencies to citizens — a catalyst ensuring agencies operate as more responsive, better performing organizations.

The winners included D.C. Historic Tours, Community Gardens, Parking, biking, and many more.

Unreasonable Update - RLV News

The New Methuselah Foundation Website Launches - Methuselah Foundation - This is from the organization that runs the MPrize, a collection of 2 prizes for the longest-living mouse and rejuvenating mice, among a number of other longevity-related activities. Here's their new website including the MPrize part.

Briefs: NASA revitalizing; VASIMR on the ISS; Spacefest 2009 - RLV News - From the post: Ferris Valyn discusses the recommendations for revitalizing NASA made in the recent article by Peter Diamandis : Dr. Diamandis's prescription for NASA - Daily Kos - Dec.13.08

The Huffington Post article mentioned is similar to the one the X PRIZE Foundation sent to the Presidential transition web site.

Guest Post: Exit Telecommuter—Enter Cloudworker - CrowdSourcing - Earlier this week, the not-for-profit site, , launched in beta mode, with a contest that invites participants to submit anything they like—blogs, pictures of workspaces, videos, twitter feeds—that showcases their cloudworker lifestyles. ... The plan for the site is to run monthly contests aimed at discovering, and perhaps inventing, the future of work.

If I Were an Editor and You Were All Reporters ... - CrowdSourcing - Story: The USAID Development 2.0 Challenge Backgrounder: The United States Agency for International Development isn't known for innovation. But it's recently launched an initiative to generate ideas on how mobile applications could be used to "improve development impact and connect people in developing countries to key resources in health, banking, education, agricultural trade, or other pressing development issues." Three winners will be chosen. Grand prize is 10 grand. The runners up get $5,000. All three will be lauded at a ceremony in DC in the new year. The community will vote on the projects and a jury (Full Disclosure: I've agreed to sit on said jury) will pick the three winners from the fifteen most popular projects.

Links: Going Sailing, Mumbai Attacks, Street View, South Africa Award - Google Earth Blog - From the blog: South Africa Award - A marketing company called Quirk eMarketing, which helped South Africa create a tourism layer for Google Earth, has won an award for Search Engine Optimization. The exposure from creating the Google Earth layer (which was released last July) had a very positive effect on the marketing for South Africa tourism. South Africa is one of only four countries with a tourism layer in Google Earth.

Continuing with Google material, here are 2 for the Google Lunar X PRIZE:

Google Lunar X PRIZE to Announce Three New Competitors in San Jose, CA -- Next Week - RLV News - This is another Who/What/When/Where type of press release, like this one which gives more details on the Wednesday part of the upcoming news.

Astrobotic Lays Out Lunar Data Library Licensing, Flight Schedule - Parabolic Arc - This seems like more details on the ambitious business and technical Astrobotic plans revealed at the recent lunar meeting. From the Astrobotic post by David Gump: Astrobotic will create a “Digital Moon” by developing an integrated lunar library of company-collected data combined with information from open sources. Data types will range from radiation and soil characteristics to the performance of various components and materials in the lunar environment. Data products will range from raw collections to highly processed information solutions that meet our customers’ needs. ... Key materials and components for future projects can be delivered to the Moon by Astrobotic to characterize their performance in the actual lunar environment, rather than in simulations. Aerospace suppliers, for example, will be able to use Astrobotic missions to give their equipment “lunar heritage” – a tremendous advantage when competing for major lunar contracts.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Marshall and First

Marshall to Sponsor Four Student Teams in 'FIRST' Robotics Competitions - SpaceRef:

The Marshall Center will sponsor four high school engineering teams -- three from North Alabama and one from Illinois -- whose mechanical and engineering marvels will compete in spring 2009 in the 16th annual FIRST Robotics Competition.

More Mystery Team Details

Media Alert - Google Lunar X PRIZE Mystery Team, linking to ...

Google Lunar X PRIZE to Announce 'Mystery Team' at NASA Ames - NASA Ames/NASA News Media Advisory - This gives more details on the upcoming announcement. In the Who/What/Where/When information, here's the "Who":

WHO: Gary Martin, director of the new ventures and communications directorate at NASA Ames; William Pomerantz, senior director X PRIZE Foundation and ‘Mystery Team’ members. Team members include a former astronaut and esteemed members from the academic, aerospace and small business communities.

X PRIZE Foundation, NASA, and Change

Re-establishing NASA’s Leadership - X PRIZE Foundation document posted at the Obama transition team site

Here's the PDF.

Here's a similar article with Peter Diamandis as the author at the Huffington Post.

They have a number of recommendations related to NASA, commercial space, and ITAR, among others. Here's a section on prizes. Maybe it gives hints about the kinds of new space prizes the X PRIZE Foundation would like to manage if it had the opportunity?

Leverage Incentive Prizes
Incentive prizes have a lengthy track record of enabling radical breakthroughs for very low costs. Governments have long been the beneficiaries of the work done to win incentive prizes, from the Longitude Prize of the 1700s to the contemporary Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and DARPA Grand Challenges. Additionally, NASA and its peer agencies can benefit even from prizes offered by external bodies, by becoming customers of the products and services that emerge from the prize competitors.

NASA should proactively seek to benefit from incentive prizes, both by offering prizes of its own and by seeking to actively engage in commerce with the teams who compete for and win prizes offered by others. To do so, NASA should supplement the prize purse funds available to Centennial Challenges, and should allow for the creation of larger value prizes such as competitions for suborbital point-to-point spaceflight, asteroid detection, end beamed power launching systems. Additionally, NASA should begin identifying both areas of need and contractual mechanisms needed to benefit from private companies participating in prizes such as the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Finally, NASA should seek out ways to benefit from and strengthen existing prizes such as the Google Lunar X PRIZE by funding related educational programs, prize purses, or other associated programs.

Is the new administration charged up about space solar power? - Space Politics - This mainly covers other transitition team subjects, but it's where I learned about the X PRIZE Foundation document.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Incoming Google Lunar X PRIZE Announcements

It's going to be very busy for the Google Lunar X PRIZE in a few days. In addition to the Space Tweetup and Team Summit, LunaTrex is going to have an announcement, the Mystery Team is going to be revealed, and 2 other new teams will be announced. Hopefully they've gotten any holiday preparations they planned done already.

Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle X - The Launch Pad shows a filtered video of a Mystery Team member, and gives another clue.

The Countdown has Begun - Mystery Team

Two New Google Teams Along With Unveiling of Mystery Team - Parabolic Arc

More cometitors for Google Lunar X Prize - Cnet News (link from Parabolic Arc)

More Google Lunar X PRIZE teams - RLV News

Google Lunar X PRIZE to Announce Three New Competitors in San Jose, CA -- Next Week
Three Announcements to Be Made at Two Separate Locations: One at Google Headquarters, the Other at NASA AMES, Mystery Team Will Be Revealed
- MarketWatch

Google 'Mystery Team' Evidence Decoded - Can You Name This Man? - Space Disco (Discovery Channel) - A little image processing may give another clue.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2008 Geek Gift Winner Announced

THE TOP GEEK GIFT OF 2008 - Cosmic Log - The winner is finally announced: an xkcd shirt. At the store you can get a Linux or Regular Expression cheat sheet shirt (upside down for convenient reading at the desk), one that says "SCIENCE: IT WORKS, BITCHES", and oh so much more.

LunaTrex Agreement

Mission Control Center - LunaTrex - They pass a milestone in their effort towards a Mission Control Center and hangar.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site has numerous other interesting posts from the teams.

Depot Prize

Propellant Depot Policy Thoughts - Selenian Boondocks - One of Jon's policy suggestions:

Fund the “Fuel Depot Demonstration” Centennial Challenges (early proposed rules can be found here), or something similar to it. The Centennial Challenges program hasn’t been given a cent other than in its first year. It’s used that money very carefully, and preserved most of the money for actual prizes. But they had several other interesting prizes that they wanted to roll out that they haven’t been able to due to lack of funding. This prize, for $5M nominally (though I think $10M might make it more interesting) was for a system that could store at least a certain amount of LOX and LH2 for at least 120 days. While one can argue with the details of the rules, the idea of offering small prizes for technology demonstrations is important.


2008 New Mexico Piglet Book - The Rio Grande Foundation and Citizens Against Government Waste - In this age of massive bailouts, giant NASA rockets, and more, it seems odd that Citizens Against Government Waste, would focus on small incentives for entrepreneurs, but their 2008 book of waste for New Mexico includes the New Mexico Spaceport and the X PRIZE Cup. In their national book, for a long time they also included Cassini on their list of missions to cancel ... many years after it was already launched. It seems like their hearts are in the right place, but they need to focus on real waste and not on what superficially sounds like waste when presented a certain way.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Space Prize Roundup - December 9, 2008

I've been a bit busy, so I'll just offer some quick links and comments today:

Rocketeers cleared for lift-off with new FAA rules - New Scientist (Henry Spencer) - Implications for Lunar Lander Challenge teams and similar ventures are mentioned.

Griffin’s commercialization legacy - The Space Review covers Griffin's speech at the Armadillo Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge ceremony. One of the sections of the article is "the value of prizes".

If I had 10 million dollars - Geordi Calrissian

Silicon Valley Space Tweetup - Sunday Decembr 14 - The Launch Pad - During the next Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit:

... we're having a little impromptu get-together for the local space community. ... The event will be Sunday, December 14, at St. Stephen's Green in Mountain View, CA. The event is open to the public. Food and beverage are NOT provided, but are available in abundance.

We Need Your Help for Teachers in Space - Space Frontier Foundation - I think it's a recent post (they don't have timestamps). Some Lunar Lander Challenge teams are supporters.

2nd International Conference on Space Elevator and CNT Tether Design - Space Elevator Blog - The abstracts from the conference featured a lot of talks about, or by people involved with, the Space Elevator Games.

One Year Anniversary of first Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Announcement (Odyssey Moon) - Lunar C/I

Masten Space update - RLV News - This includes videos, pictures, and internship news.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

NASA Lunar Art Contest 2009

I posted about last year's contest here. I also just mentioned it in my previous post mixed in with a bunch of others I've mentioned already, so it now gets its own post. The 2009 NASA Art Contest, where the winners will get cash prizes and public display of their work, has an entry deadline of March 15, 2009.

Best of the Moon

Best of the Moon 2008 - Out of the Cradle - A number of Lunar Library "Best Of"s are selected. It features a lot of competitions related to the Moon, including Lunar Ventures, the calendar from the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest, the International Space Settlement Design Competition, the 2009 NASA Art Contest, the Return to Luna short story compilation, and the International Atlas of Lunar Exploration” by frequent Google Lunar X PRIZE Forum poster Philip Stooke. (link from RLV News)

Armadillo Ceremony Audio and Prize Comments

Briefs: Audio from LLC award ceremony; Griffin and commercialization efforts - RLV News

Griffin: what makes an effective prize? - Space Politics

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Stern Comment

Here's an excerpt from a November 24, 2008 Space News profile/interview of Alan Stern:

Space News: Do you believe commercial models like Google Lunar X PRIZE can change the way NASA spends its science dollars?

Stern: Perhaps, but so far I have not seen NASA step up to the plate in a significant way. Perhaps this is something we'll see in the future.

2009 Student Launch Initiative Invite and Rockets for Schools

Briefs: Student launch initiative; Soyuz contract; Humans in first place - RLV News - Here's the part that fits in the theme of this blog:

NASA's Student Launch Initiative helps train American space transport pioneers of tomorrow : NASA Invites Young Engineers To Alabama Student Launch Initiative - NASA - Dec.2.08

From the NASA Student Launch Initiative site:

Teams can qualify to participate in the Student Launch Initiative by placing in the top level two teams at the Rockets for Schools competition held in Wisconsin or by placing in the top at the Team America Rocketry Challenge, or TARC held in Virginia.

I've covered TARC many times (and it's linked on the right); here's a link to Rockets for Schools at Spaceport Sheboygan (and here's the 2009 contest). From the poster:

Join us for a hands-on / minds-on aerospace adventure at Spaceport Sheboygan. Our Rockets for Schools competition is a unique program for you to learn about today's space technology and explore exciting opportunities in tomorrow's aerospace industries.

As a member of a Rockets for Schools launch team you will:

• Learn basic rocketry principles of propulsion, stability and recovery
• Build a 6 foot high powered rocket
• Design, build and launch a payload to an altitude of 2,000 feet.
• Help coordinate launch day activities as part of Mission Control, Tracking or Recovery Teams
• Meet a NASA Astronaut
• View NASA aerospace exhibits
• Interact with aerospace professionals

Rockets for Schools is open to all 6 - 12 graders from Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

Return to Luna

Return To Luna - stories from lunar settlements - Space for All - This book of short story contest winners is released just in time for the gift-giving season.

2008 Collegiate Inventors Competition

MIT students take top prizes in national inventors' contest - MIT News:

Timothy Lu, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, was awarded the $25,000 grand prize for a new method of combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. He invented processes that enhance antibiotic effectiveness and help to eradicate bacterial layers that can breed on surfaces of medical, industrial and food processing equipment.

Greg Schroll, a 2008 MIT graduate, won the competition's top prize for undergraduates for his invention of a new spherical robot that could have many potential uses including surveillance, reconnaissance and disaster-zone assessment, especially in situations where conditions on the ground may not yet be safe for people.

CSM Nerds Catchup

Presentation for Intro to Space - CSM Nerds, a Regolith Excavation Challenge team from the Colorado School of Mines, posted a slide presentation about their participation in the Challenge.

Photos - Earlier in November they also posted a huge set of photos.

Google Earth Roundup - December 6,2008

These are all from the Google Earth Blog.

Tomb Raider Challenge with Google Earth

Links: GE Plugin Update, KML Contest Update, Panoramio Contest, Teaching with GE, Santa Video - The links include the latest otherworldly Panoramio photo contest winners and an extension to the KML Research Contest deadline.

In addition to the contests, there's also a roundup about a GE Plugin that, among other things, links to an older post on an Analytic Graphics Inc. GE application showing real-time satellite positions.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Little Monster Rocket and N-Prize

N-Prize team interview - RLV News - Here's a quote from the Space Fellowship interview:

Commercial space (and nearly every other industry) has suffered greatly at the spear of regulations which drive a wedge between practicality and imagination, and force a status quo.

Entrepreneurial Approach to Running Innovation Prizes

Contests and Innovation - Enterprise Resilience Management Blog - This covers the recent BusinessWeek article on prizes, with a particular focus on Peter Diamandis's entrepreneurial efforts.

This part of the conclusion might or might not be true ... it all depends in part on what we do, and in part on how cost-effectively we can do it, when we get there:

Diamandis, writes LeVine, is not as interested in promoting scientific breakthroughs as he is in solving challenges to daily living. He wants to make life better for millions of people around the globe. Getting into space or landing a robot on the moon doesn't exactly accomplish that goal.

NASA Armadillo Ceremony

Live webcast of NASA-Armadillo award ceremony - RLV News gives a summary of the broadcast.

Briefs: Rocketplane Escape Cabin; NG congratulates Armadillo; LM hovering kill vehicle - RLV News presents the Northrop Grumman salute to Armadillo.

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge - X PRIZE Foundation - The highlights now include a photo from the ceremony.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lunar Lander Challenge Roundup - December 4, 2008

NASA's Challenge: How Do You Pin an Award On An Armadillo? - SatNews Daily (link from X PRIZE Foundation news scroller) - The ceremony will be at 10:00 AM EST tomorrow.

Armadillo Aerospace to receive Award from NASA Friday December 5 - X PRIZE Foundation - This news post includes a link to the NASA TV site that will presumably show the ceremony.

Space blogosphere highlights... - RLV News - This makes today's the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Roundup because of a post from Unreasonable Rocket about new FAA rules.

How Stuff Works

A while ago I posted on a "How Stuff Works" Google Lunar X PRIZE page. Now there's one for the Ansari X PRIZE. The link is from the X PRIZE Foundation web site news article widget.

Geek Gift Part Deux

PICK YOUR TOP GEEK GIFT - Cosmic Log - The shopping season competition continues, with a number of space-related entries.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Second Life for Lunar Lander Challenge

When writing the Spacehack post, I ran across this at NASA CoLab: Centennial Challenges exhibit in Second Life (specifically the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge). I'm not in Second Life, so I don't know whether or not this is new. A couple years ago Robin from the Lunar Lander Challenge blog had a talk at Space Access on Second Life and NASA CoLab, so it could be related to that. On the other hand, it could be something new altogether, or a new addition to the part of Second Life that Robin described. This twitter is fairly recent (Oct 31, 2008).

Space Open Source and Competitions #2

Moon amateurs invite rover designs from the public - Open Space Exploration Journal - This is meant more to feature the OSEJ blog than the particular post they recently made. A lot of the fairly detailed posts feature open source Google Lunar X PRIZE team FREDNET, but the blog covers other ground, too, including prizes like the N-Prize and America's Space Prize. From their welcome post:

It is our hope that by giving a more accessible look into the open development process of initiatives like Team FREDNET, we can help them attract the support and the volunteers they need to achieve their goals.

Space Open Source and Competitions #1

Here's more about Spacehack:

Behind Spacehack: GeekDad Talks to Ariel Waldman - Wired GeekDad: Spacehack is the brainchild of Ariel Waldman, recently named one of the most influential individuals in Silicon Valley. Waldman was previously a program coordinator at NASA CoLab, which connects communities inside and outside NASA to collaborate.


GD: Have you participated in any of these projects yourself?

AW: I've supported the NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge (part of the NASA Centennial Challenges progam) but I have not yet been a participant. I plan to participate in the Stardust@Home cause soon.

Ariel has some other projects:

Pownce, a social P2P sharing application

CupcakeCamp - an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and eat cupcakes in an open environment.

Shake Well Before Use - coverage of the intersection of art, advertising, sex and technology

Monday, December 01, 2008

Unmanned Lunar Lander

Koreans build unmanned lunar lander - Lunar Networks - As Lunar Networks notes:

Competitors for the Google Lunar X-Prize take note!

Home-Made Lunar Lander Unveiled - The Korea Times

Made in Korea: Lunar Lander Unveiled - Universe Today (based on the above article)

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Ceremony

NASA to hold ceremony to give NG-LLC prize to Armadillo - RLV News - From the NASA media advisory:

During the ceremony, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin will speak about NASA's commitment to commercial space development. Doug Comstock, director of NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program, will present a ceremonial check for $350,000 to the Armadillo Aerospace team leader, John Carmack. Also attending the event are George Nield, associate administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration, and Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, which managed the Lunar Lander Challenge for NASA.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Roundup

Automotive X Prize News: Nov 9th, 2008 - X PRIZE Cars - Lots and lots of news for this week and a half. News about H2Pg, Revolution Motors, ZAP, Linc Volt (Dreamforce conference photo credit to thomas), Tesla, West Philly, Aptera, Physics Lab of Lake Havasu, Miles EV, EnerMotion, Loremo, Hybrid Technologies, MDI. Also: Fisker, free piston engines, Dean Kamen, AFS Trinity, Chevy Volt, and Fuel Efficiency webinars/design contests.

Automotive X Prize News: Nov 19th, 2008 - X PRIZE Cars - Some interesting news this week. We've got an interview with some West Phily X students, more Neil Young news, new regenerative shocks for Physics Lab of Lake Havasu (pictured), plus updates from Aptera, Tesla, Avion, ZAP, Hybrid Technologies, X Tracer. And, some info on Fisker, the Big Three Bailout, Toyota iQ and liquid crystal lubricants.

There are enough links there to overwhelm most people, but if that's not enough there are more recent posts at X PRIZE Cars blog.

Suspense Builds in the Automotive X Prize 'Green Prix' - Wired (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

Long May You Run: Neil Young’s Eco-Lincoln - New York Times (link from X PRIZE Cars)

Green Patriot Radio, with David Steinman Episode 20 - Ecology Global Network - David Steinman and Cristin Lindsay, senior director of the Progressive Automotive X Prize at the X Prize Foundation, discuss the $10 million competition among automakers to create the ultimate viable super energy efficient vehicle.

Online video vote to decide $10m green technology prize - - link from X PRIZE Foundation - Well, it's not the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, but it's in the same category so I thought I'd add the link here. Now that it's December, I imagine that we'll find out soon who the winner is.