Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Microgravity Research Competition Proposals


Nine proposals have been submitted by Florida Tech, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Universities Space Research Association, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, College of Menominee Nation, University of Texas Health Science Center, Duke University Medical Center, and University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The press release gives an overview of the 9 proposals. More details about these proposals can be found on the Proposal Summaries page.

The main Labflight page gives the following timeline for the contest:

Competition Dates
4/3 - Finalists Notified
4/17 - Finalist Event at Rice University
4/18 - Announcement of Winner

In related news: Teams Announced for 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition -

Forty-two teams selected to compete in the world’s richest and largest business plan competition. ... In all, $170,000 in additional investment and cash prizes were added this year, including three, new $20,000 Earth/Space Engineering Innovation awards sponsored by NASA ...

Space Foundation Symposium

Space Foundation Symposium - RLV News - On the Symposium Agenda:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
4:00 PM
Ms. Nicole Jordan - Manager, Rocket Operations, X Prize Foundation

I'll hazard a guess that this is from the Symposium: Nicky and Neil deGrasse Tyson - The Launch Pad

Thursday, April 2, 2009
3:30 PM
Ms. Anousheh Ansari - Co-Founder and Chairman, Prodea Systems, First Female Private Space Explorer, and First Space Ambassador

Also see the following for discussion of the Ansari X PRIZE goals, as well as other topics: Anousheh Ansari interview - RLV News

Monday, March 30, 2009

Goddard Memorial Scholarship for Robotics Student

Ross Finman given scholarship for exploratory space research - The Tartan (Carnegie Mellon University student paper):

Junior electrical and computer engineering student Ross Finman was awarded the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship issued by the National Space Club that is given to a student interested in space-related science and engineering.
Finman explained that he had been interested in space technology since he was 12 years old and received his first Lego Mindstorms kit, which he used to build robots until his fingers bled.
Finman is involved in a number of activities that go along with his interests in space technology. He has participated in the Google Lunar X-Prize, which is a $20 million competition where teams compete to send a robot to the moon and send images of the moon back to Earth, and is also working on the NASA Regolith Excavation challenge dealing with obtaining dirt from the moon.

“The Google Lunar X-Prize team has taught me more in two years than I could have imagined in my entire educational career,” Finman said.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ben Shelef Space Elevator Reference Chat

Transcript of Space Elevator Reference chat with Ben Shelef now available - Space Elevator Blog

Parabolic Arc has a summary of one of the highlights of the chat: Space Elevator Games Delayed Until at Least Mid-May

Ben Shelef Chat Log - Space Elevator Reference

Here's the rest of the scheduled chat series:

Bert Murray, Team Lead, National Space Society (NSS) Space Elevator Team
Join the Chat: March 31 @ 2:30 PM Eastern Time/ 11:30 AM Pacific Time (Tentative time & date)
Topic: Discussion on the NSS Team efforts and the Space Elevator. Bert has 30 years experience working at Lockheed Martin.

Ted Semon, President, International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) & the owner of the Space Elevator Blog
Join the Chat: April 7 @ 2:30 PM Eastern Time/ 11:30 AM Pacific Time
Topic: The International Space Elevator Consortium & other news

Open Innovation Links

I made a new category on the right for "Open Innovation". The links (a couple moved, most new):

Open Innovation
Innovation Exchange
Idea Crossing
Idea Connection

There are also couple new entries to the "Other Prizes" section:

Ruckus Nation

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Automotive X PRIZE Roundup - March 28, 2009

Automotive X Prize News: March 19th, 2009 - X PRIZE Cars blog:
An interview with Peter Diamandis, a slide show, updates from the PIAXP team itself, and news on Aptera, Avion, Global-E, Lightning Hybrids (pictured), Linc-Volt and Myers Motors. Plus more.

TreeHugger has done a really excellent interview with Peter Diamandis on the AXP. Among other things, we learn that New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Cleveland are already chosen for stages, with likely only 2 more to come. ...

The 2nd image in the TreeHugger slide show is of SS1/WK1 - but I don't think they'll be actually competing in the PIAXP ...

Where are they Now? 9 Auto X Prize Team Updates - Popular Mechanics - I liked this Fuel Vapor Technologies quote enough to pick their image from this article: We want to make gasoline a condiment,” said Todd Pratt, head of business operations for FVT.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Forum Board Re-Vamp - Automotive X PRIZE blog

You'll see several more Automotive X PRIZE articles on the "X PRIZE Press" scrolling display at the X PRIZE Foundation main site.

Student Science Competitions

It’s science contest season! - Science Geek Girl - A number of student contests in areas like Physics, Rocketry, Chemistry, Science Communication, and Science Photography are overviewed.

One of the links gets you to the American Association of Physics Teachers contests and competitions, which include:

Updates on 2 N-Prize Space Access Presenters

Here are some recent posts from Team Prometheus:

Prometheus Get's a Lathe!

Lathe #2

Near Space ground tracking station

Meanwhile, Kiki 2 Space has started a new website.

Friday, March 27, 2009

CAFE Library

Goldschmied Propulsion Papers Now Available - CAFE Foundation and PAV News -

The CAFE Foundation is very pleased to offer a new array of important reports on extreme body drag reduction in its PAV Technology Library. These reports include work on Goldschmied propulsion that should prove valuable to any team planning to compete in the NASA Centennial Challenge flight competition.

Green Moon

Micro-greenhouse on the Moon - RLV News - This post has the latest news on the morning of the Odyssey Moon/Paragon Space lunar greenhouse press conference. I'll try to update this post this evening with any information I come across on the press conference itself.

A couple days ago OdysseyMoon twitter posted: getting ready for our press conference Friday, I hope they shoot my best side...

This reminds me of Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series set so far in the future that it reads like a fantasy, where "the moon has been made verdant and now shines green in the sky".

Update: Here are some more links:

Building the First Lunar Greenhouse - Odyssey Moon on Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

A Greenhouse on the Moon by 2014? - Universe Today

Firm vows to grow first flowers on the moon - New Scientist

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Draft Rules Document

Draft Rules Document - Matt from the California Space Authority -

The most significant difference between this rule set and the one for 2008 is that we have opened the solution space to telerobotic operations. This doesn’t mean the teams get to operate their excavators like RC cars. The operator will be isolated from the excavator, will only be able to receive data collected by the excavator itself, and a realistic time delay of all signals passing from the operator to the excavator is required, making for a reasonable lunar robotic operations analog. Teams who have already developed autonomous capabilities will still benefit from those, freeing up the operator to pay attention to higher level tasks or to apply resources toward further optimizing their excavation efforts. Completely autonomous operations require an extremely high level of integration, and it was decided that this was taking too much focus away from the actual excavation task.
Effectively, power consumption is now limited by the excavator’s mass because it now must carry it’s own power. This relieves the teams from having to integrate their systems with a ramp and power source provided by the competition organizer. This also introduces a real NASA requirement for excavation systems; the need to deposit regolith into a hopper that rises two feet above the surface.

Here's the actual draft Competition Rules document (PDF). From the rules:

The TEAMs that can, using telerobotic or autonomous operation, excavate the most lunar
regolith simulant (above the Minimum Excavation Requirement and within Excavation
Hardware mass limit) from a supplied quantity of regolith within a specified Time Limit will win the CHALLENGE and are eligible to receive First, Second or Third Prize of US$500,000.00, US$150,000.00 and US$100,000.00, respectively.

There are some rules about what not to do: no ordance is allowed, no accumulating regolith by pushing it against the walls, no using the bottom of the Sandbox as a support, etc.

Space Access 2009 Pre-Conference Schedule

The Space Access Society site was updated today with the latest Preliminary Program Schedule. The program now includes tentative times for the talks, as well as some new talks. It looks like the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and the N-Prize both are still going to be featured heavily. Some of the talks related to prizes (past or current teams, or programs that feature contests) include:

Thursday April 2nd
4:30 Unreasonable Rocket/Paul Breed (... and by the way RLV News has the latest from Unreasonable Rocket)
5:25 SpeedUp/Bob Steinke
9:00 Monroe King, N-Prize Contestant: Team Prometheus/Aeronautic Enterprises Inc.

Friday April 3rd
4 pm BonNova/Bob Noteboom
4:45 TrueZer0/Scott Zeeb and Todd Squires
8:50 Iain Finer, N-Prize Contestant: Team Kiwi 2 Space
9:10 Ed Wright, Teachers in Space's Astronaut Teacher Course Design Workshop

Saturday April 4th
11:20 Armadillo Aerospace/John Carmack
2:40 Masten Space/Dave Masten
4:55 Charles Pooley, N-Prize Contestant: Microlaunchers

That's just a sampling of the program; see the above link for the rest of the schedule. There are a lot more that sound interesting; for example, "NASA Ames Human Tended Suborbital Science/Yvonne Cagle and Bruce Pittman". Here's a link to the NASA Ames SUBORBITAL EX site (EX standing for EXperiences, EXperiments, and EXplorations). Irene Klotz noted a couple months ago about some preliminary human-tended suborbital science proposals being reviewed by NASA that "... a decision about which projects will receive funding for additional study is expected around March."

Here are some recent related Space Show radio interviews:

N-Prize's Dr. Paul Dear

Henry Vanderbilt on the Space Access conference and related topics

Monday, March 23, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - March 23, 2009

Robots in the Garden: Odyssey Moon Partnering With Paragon To Put Greenhouses On the Moon - Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration (The image selection is also the Paragon Mars Greenhouse Experiment Module one from Luna C/I)

On the same topic: Odyssey Moon announcement - RLV News

Oops: Colbert wins NASA space station name contest - Yahoo News

PICK A MARS ROVER'S NAME - Cosmic Log - Here's your chance to decide what NASA's next Mars rover will be named - and send your own name along for the ride. P.S.: Stephen Colbert doesn't get a write-in vote on this one.

This Week On The Space Show - The Space Fellowship -

Friday, March 27, 2009, 9:30-11:30 AM PDT (16:30-18:30 GMT)

Nancy Conrad and Josh Neubert of The Conrad Foundation return to discuss the upcoming Conrad Foundation awards.

Reminder - Next Space Elevator chat coming Tuesday, March 24th - Space Elevator Blog

Here's the upcoming chat schedule from the Space Elevator Reference:

Marc Boucher, Founder, The Space Elevator Reference
Join the Chat: March 24 @ 2:30 PM Eastern Time/ 11:30 AM Pacific Time
Topic: The Space Elevator Open Wiki & Developer Wiki, how to get involved

Bert Murray, Team Lead, National Space Society (NSS) Space Elevator Team
Join the Chat: March 31 @ 2:30 PM Eastern Time/ 11:30 AM Pacific Time (Tentative time & date)
Discussion on the NSS Team efforts and the Space Elevator. Bert has 30 years experience working at Lockheed Martin.

Ted Semon, President, International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) & the owner of the Space Elevator Blog
Join the Chat: April 7 @ 2:30 PM Eastern Time/ 11:30 AM Pacific Time
Topic: The International Space Elevator Consortium & other news

From the Regolith_Chal Twitter (does that mean the rules are coming in the next day or 2?) -

For those wondering about telerobotic concept: Excavator operators will be isolated from the excavator so no 3rd person data.
2:02 PM Mar 19th from web

@Amy_Cheng You can expect to see the rules by early next week.
12:20 PM Mar 19th from web in reply to Amy_Cheng

Making progress on the new rules document. Received feedback from NASA ISRU, and incorporating that now. Aiming to be more user friendly.
5:21 PM Mar 12th from web

Here are a couple items that are about innovation prizes in general. I've mentioned both of them before, but these are better introductions than mine:

The McKinsey Report "And the winner is..." - The X PRIZE Foundation -

The McKinsey & Company Report. “And the winner is…” Capturing the Promise of Philanthropic Prizes was released March 3, 2009. The Report concluded that incentive prizes are a unique and powerful tool that should be in the basic toolkit of many of today’s philanthropists. ...

Incentive 2 Innovate: Conference Discusses Research, Development and Rewards - Incentive (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - March 22, 2009

Check out the new wheels for the Kansas City Space Pirates! - Space Elevator Blog

Interorbital Systems - SYNERGY MOON at Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site - The video gives an overview of Interorbital Systems, part of SYNERGY MOON. It also includes some cool Mojave scenery for when the computer work and welding is done for the day.

Oddly enough, this one doesn't appear on the "Teams" page "Latest Team Announcements" list for March 20, but it's on the main page and the SYNERGY MOON page.

ARCA Stabilo engine tests completed successfully - ARCA at Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site - Two videos are included. Also see ARCA engine test videos (RLV News) for links to more new ARCA material.

ZeroGravity Teacher Commended - Spaceports:

... While planning to tout ZeroGravity flights in Virginia, Seals got an unexpected honor from her native Wise County with a dedication of $1,000 to offset the $5,000 costs of the next teacher-to-zerogravity flight comeptition to be sponsored by the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council. Wise County specifically donated the money to honor Seals.

A competition will be held among the southwestern Virginia public school teachers to fly later this year. A significant part of the selection process will be based upon the merit of the zerogravity student experiement designed with the teacher's classroom students. The Teachers-in-Space Team of the Space Frontier Foundation will assist in the selection process.

Here are some recent Mars-themed SF award and contest links from the "Marooned - Science Fiction books on Mars" blog:

Joe Haldeman’s novel Marsbound gets honorable mention in 2008 Readers’ Choice poll

Nebula Awards ballot error almost discards Ruth Nestvold’s short story “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide”

Nominated for Nebula Award, Ruth Nestvold’s short story “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” now online

Bookspot Central Book Tournament tips off, features three Mars novels

Robert J. Sawyer’s collection Identity Theft and Other Stories nominated for 2009 Aurora Award

EVA Interviews Rex Ridenoure, CEO of Ecliptic Enterprises - Out of the Cradle (also see RLV News for more related information) - This interview covers Rex's career, including a lot of involvement with space prizes (especially if you count Blastoff! as a predecessor of the Google Lunar X PRIZE as suggested by Peter Diamandis):

... Soon the firm was re-named BlastOff Corporation (from Spacelab!) and in just six months or so we had 50 employees, a baseline mission and system design, a rocket on order and a huge head of steam. Sadly, the dot-com bubble began to pop in late 2000 and the entire BlastOff effort came to a screeching halt ... The onboard RocketCam™ video from SpaceShipOne during its two Ansari XPRIZE flights also gave us quite a boost–globally. ... Within the first two days after the GLXP was announced in September 2007, I got calls from four different team leaders (all of whom I knew already) asking about whether Ecliptic could supply their team with onboard imaging systems. That sort of brand validation was very satisfying, to say the least! ... I registered Ecliptic as a “stealth” team at the end of 2007, with the notion that we’d participate for as long as it took to figure out how many other teams were competing and which ones we’d prefer to be part of. ... Now, Ecliptic is still a candidate supplier to several GLXP teams, and we’ve also covered the costs of filing the patent for the SCSG spinning lander/hopper concept and will control this intellectual property from now on. Ecliptic has no plans to field a GLXP team on its own.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Student Prize Roundup - March 21, 2009

The 2009 NASA Great Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama approaches. The dates are April 3-4, 2009.

The Praxis Inc Battle of the Rockets - Spring Competition is scheduled for April 4, 2009 in Culpeper, Virginia. The categories are the "Mars Lander" CanSat-like competition, and an altitude competition.

SMART Introduces Lessons That Count Contest - This Week in Ed Tech:

The Lessons That Count contest gives you the opportunity to share your formula for creating and delivering successful, interactive math lessons. By entering this contest, you could win a SMART Board 600i interactive whiteboard system.

The Conrad Foundation Ushers in Innovations for Lunar Exploration, Personal Spaceflight and Renewable Energy - Space for All

The Conrad Awards Team Blogs site remains very active.

High-flying challenge - Denton High students prepare for national rocketry competition - Denton Record-Chronicle - The rocketry competition is the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

Online Poll for NASA's Mars Rover Naming Contest Opens March 23 - SpaceRef:

More than 9,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grades submitted essays proposing names for the rover in a nationwide contest that ended Jan. 25. Entries came from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the families of American service personnel overseas. NASA will select the winning name, based on a student's essay and the public poll, and announce the name in April.

Imagine Cup - "The world's premier student technology competition" - The Competition Categories include Software Design, Embedded Development, Game Development, Robotics and Algorithm, IT Challenge, MashUp, Photography, Short Film, and Design. The 2009 theme is “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems facing us today.”

Friday, March 20, 2009

Start-up Pitch Competitions

The latest NSS Downlink (#97) email newletter includes the following:

NSS is a proud Supporter of the 6th Annual Global Technology Symposium

The Annual Global Technology Symposium will be held March 26-27 at the Arrillaga Alumi Center at Stanford University. This year's theme is "Entrepreneurship and Investment in a Turbulent Economy."

The Symposium is the premier investor conference focused on technology and growth companies in Silicon Valley, BRIC countries, and other emerging markets. It brings selected international leaders in business, finance, politics, and technology together to discuss how entrepreneurs and blue-chip companies alike can seize the opportunities of globalization.

For a full list of speakers and the agenda visit; www.globaltechsymposium.com

NSS members will receive a special $50.00 discount off the standard registration price. Please email info@globaltechsymposium.com and mention that YOU are an NSS member for your special discount.

As for prizes and competitions, check out the Global Pitch Competition at the Symposium:

This year the Global Technology Symposium will be hosting a start-up pitch competition for early stage companies looking for professional financing from sophisticated investors. The presentation provides companies with a chance to pitch their business ideas and receive valuable feedback from a panel comprised of successful venture capitalists from all over the globe.

Meanwhile, the Automotive X PRIZE blog is covering another pitch contest:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Outreach

GLXP/Team Selene on German TV - SELENE, Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page:

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 mission, the German TV station WDR plans to make a documentary about past and future lunar missions. The Google Lunar X Prize and several of the participating teams will be featured as well. ...

AIMing for Automated Vehicles - Control Engineering:

The Robot Club of Traverse City, MI news letter is available free for anyone interested in robots or robotics at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/robotcluboftraversecitymi/. The Robot Club of Traverse City, MI met Saturday 3/14/2009 at the AIM workshop at 390 4-Mile Rd. S., Traverse City, MI 49686 from 1 pm to 2 pm. Rich Core from the Google Lunar X-Prize Team FREDNET brought us up to date on the teams progress toward a Moon landing.


Linda Grahams first batch of Moon Rock soap has been delivered to Rich Core, the TC representative of Team FREDNET, for use as a fundraiser. The second batch is curing and is expected to be even more Moon-Like. Contact Team FREDNET to find out the details of how you can get some of this exotic soap and support the Google Lunar X-Prize Team FREDNET. ...

Here's more about the FREDNET soap fundraising campaign: Moon, Robots, and Soap. - Control Engineering

JSEA Climber Competition Progress

First test of the JSEA Balloon-Tether competition track is successful - Space Elevator Blog - The has post a bunch more pictures, and good news about the competition.

I really need to update the tag for this category ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lego and FIRST Robots at NASA

NASA Lego Robotics competition at JPL - NASA Watch

NASA Langley Promotes Student Robot Teams' Lunacy - SpaceRef

Google Earth Bridge Modeling and Ancient Rome Contests

Google Earth Competition News - Google Earth Blog - See the post for more details and examples:

First, when Google announced the release of the Ancient Rome in 3D collection, they also announced a competition for K-12 educators in the US to come up with the best lesson plan involved the Ancient Rome collection. Yesterday, Google announced six winners of this competition.


Second, Google has announced a new competition. The new one is the Google 2009 International Student Bridge Modeling Competition. ... The competition is to build the best 3D bridge and place it in Google Earth, then submit it to the Google 3DWarehouse. And there are cash prizes including a US$5000 first prize! Read more at the competition site ...

Entries need to be sent in by June 15, noon PST. They will be judged using criteria like accuracy, low polygon count, and detail.

Here's the digital poster (PDF) for the competition.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chatting on the Elevator

Space Elevator Spring Chat Series - NASA Watch - I'll just include the whole brief post:

The Space Elevator Spring Chat Series begins March 17 and will be running every Tuesday for at least 4 weeks. Our first guest will be: Ben Shelef, Co-founder, The Spaceward Foundation & the International Space Elevator Consortium. Join the Chat: March 17 2:30 PM Eastern Time/ 11:30 AM Pacific Time Topic: The Space Elevator concept including an update on the Space Elevator Challenges http://www.spaceelevator.com/chat

Sunday, March 15, 2009

JSEA Space Elevator Climber Competition

Japan Space Elevator Assocation to host its own Space Elevator Games - Space Elevator Blog - I tagged this one under "Beam Power", the tag I use for the Space Elevator climber Centennial Challenge. However, it sounds like this one focuses on the climbing rather than the power beaming:

This competition is focused especially on climber mechanism, a mechanism for faster climbing speeds. We will use 12V battery for power, making it easier to join than the Power Beaming competition in USA. ... We have to start small due to our limited budget, but we will try to hold a competition every 6 months. Perhaps, we will not have any prize except the honor of “The fastest climber in Japan or world”…

Friday, March 13, 2009

X PRIZE Foundation Life Sciences Chairman

X PRIZE Foundation Appoints Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong as Chairman of the Life Sciences Prize Group Steering Committee - X PRIZE Foundation press release:

Under Dr. Soon-Shiong’s direction, the GSC will steer the direction of future Life Science related X PRIZEs to ensure that they address the audacious grand challenges where market failures currently exist. The Life Sciences GSC will address such subjects as healthcare, genomics, proteonomics, bionics/human augmentation, rapid disease detection, disease prevention, human longevity and artificial intelligence in medical diagnosis.


Several others are in development, including a Healthcare X PRIZE in partnership with WellPoint Inc., one of the nation’s largest health benefits companies. Other potential prizes include: point-of-care tuberculosis diagnosis, bionics and vision restoration. Life Sciences currently represents the Foundation’s most active portfolio of prize development.

Google KML Research Contest Winners

Links: KML Research Winners, Tour Tutorial, Tour for Mountains, Mining Tour - Google Earth Blog: Here's the coverage of the KML in Research Contest:

KML Research Winners - Google announced the winners of their contest for the best cases of using KML for Research. Each winner will receive a prize pack including an iPod Touch, Garmin GPS, and Google swag. All entries will appear in the Google Earth Gallery. Bjorn Sandvik, who has appeared in GEB several times, was one of the winners and has shared his winning entry.

The Thematic Mapping Blog entry gives more details on this winning entry, which displays maps of Infant Mortality rates for different countries over selected time periods:

The statistics can be explored in time and space. Click here to download the KMZ file.

My dissertation, Using KML for Thematic Mapping, was also awarded the MSc Dissertation Prize at University of Edinburgh.

Although not on prizes, this Google Earth Blog post will be of particular interest to readers here for space topics: Google Earth Mars Update - Live Imagery from Another Planet. A number of new data layers have been added. NASA Ames continues to be at the forefront of innovation. Check out the post so you know specifically what to look for.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - March 12, 2009

NASA and NIA Announce Moon Design Team Competitors - SpaceRef (press release):

HAMPTON, Va. - Fifteen teams have made it to the finals of a NASA and National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) sponsored competition that challenged university students to think about the conditions astronauts will face when we return to the moon, then design projects that could become part of real lunar exploration.

The undergraduate and graduate engineering students won the right to compete against each other at the 2009 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage or RASC-AL forum to be held in Cocoa Beach, Fla., June 1-4.

Also see RASC-AL Student Competition Finalists Announced by NASA/NIA - Luna C/I blog

From AnoushehAnsari.com:

Anousheh Ansari will be appearing at the following upcoming events and locations.

March 14, 2009 - National Air and Space Museum
Washington, DC
Event: Family Day
Topic: Women in Aviation & Space day
Location: The Steven F. Udvar- Hazy Center
For details:

March 26, 2009 - Universities Space Research Association (USRA) Annual Symposium Celebration of USRA’s Fortieth Anniversary

Washington, DC
Theme: Our Future in Space: Perspectives from Civil Space Exploration, National Securities, Commercial Ventures, and International Collaboration
Location: The Auditorium of the National Academy of Science

March 30- April 1st, 2009 - Education without Borders

Dubai, UAE
Theme: Innovative Solutions to Global Challenges
For details:

NASA to Award $80,000 in Rice University Business Plan Competition - NASA Johnson Space Center press release:

The Innovation Partnerships Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has announced the addition of three separate $20,000 awards to one already granted, bringing the total to $80,000, to be presented as part of the 2009 Rice University Business Plan Competition.

The three new prizes will be awarded for the best business plans representing an engineering technology that has applications to both the NASA space program and to earth-based activities, according to Michele Brekke, director of the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office (IPO).

MIT professors honored with Turing Award and $250,000 - TG Daily

Barbara Liskov wins Turing Award - ACM cites 'foundational innovations' in programming language design - MIT News

Interview with Bob Richards and Michael Potter - RLV News

KC Space Pirates March, 2009 update - Space Elevator Blog

Interviews with author of SpaceShipOne book - RLV News

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - March 10, 2009

Mojave Air and Space Port thriving - Aerotech News (link from X PRIZE Foundation) - The article covers a number of former and current space prize teams, including Ansari X PRIZE winner Scaled Composites, Lunar Lander Challenge team Masten Space Systems, and Interorbital Research, member of Google Lunar X PRIZE team Synergy Moon. eSpaceTickets.com is also mentioned in the context of Synergy Moon.

CRASHING GALAXIES WIN CONTEST - Cosmic Log - The people have spoken, and that means the tangled-up group of galaxies known as Arp 274 will get an exclusive photo shoot with the Hubble Space Telescope. The interacting galaxies won almost half of the 139,944 votes cast in the Hubble team's first-ever "People's Choice" ballot.

Web-site and interview - Googlokhod

Unreasonable and Masten test videos - RLV News

The Space Show this week - Space for All - Sunday, March 15, 2009, 12-1:30 PM PDT: Dr. Paul Dear returns to the program to update us on new developments with his N-Prize program.

Monday, March 09, 2009

"And the winner is ..." - Prize Paper from McKinsey & Company

The incentive2innovate conference I described in my previous post includes the following:

PAUL JANSEN - Partner, McKinsey & Company - McKinsey & Company will present the findings of its recent research report, "And the winner is ...": Capturing the Promise of Philanthropic Prizes. The report responds to the recent surge in interest in philanthropic prizes by examining their potential as instruments of philanthropy and by profiling current practices in their design and delivery, drawing lessons from the social, public and private sectors. The session will discuss the recent renaissance in prizes, identify a number of ways in which they can be distinctive instruments for producing social benefit, and review interesting practices in their effective design and delivery. Finally, the session will discuss the potential future of prizes, and how each industry can invest to support it.

Here's more about the McKinsey & Company’s report:

More and More Foundations Advance Their Causes by Offering Prizes, Report Says - Philanthropy -

Prizes for philanthropic-minded efforts are increasing not only in their number, but also in the size of the cash awards they convey, and are being applied by an ever-expanding list of sponsors to a broader range of issues than in the past.

But the report, issued by McKinsey & Company’s Social Sector Office, warns that this growth has also resulted in “many overlapping prizes and growing clutter,” and that quantity doesn’t always signal quality.

Here's the paper: "And the winner is ..." - Capturing the promise of philanthropic prizes (PDF). I haven't had a chance to read it - I just saw it today and it's 124 pages. Skimming it, I do see some coverage of space prizes and acknowledgement of interviews of space prize personalities like Doug Comstock, Ken Davidian, and Andrew Petro.

Major Innovation Prize Conference - i2i (incentive2innovate)

X PRIZE Foundation and BT Global Services to Host Innovation Conference at the United Nations in June - X PRIZE Foundation press release:

With the world facing major challenges everywhere we look – from the economy to energy and healthcare to national security and climate change – there’s an urgent need to develop cost-effective and powerful systems to drive innovative solutions. With this in mind, The X PRIZE Foundation – in close collaboration with BT Global Services, the United Nations and the John Templeton Foundation – is presenting a first-of-its-kind Incentive 2 Innovate (i2i) conference to highlight two powerful, yet underutilized tools: OPEN COLLABORATION and INCENTIVIZED COMPETITION. ...

Here's the conference web site: incentive2innovate. The conference covers the innovation prize model and related innovation practices like open source and crowdsourcing. It includes track on healthcare, energy and environment, and global development, and also includes lots of material that isn't specific to 1 field or industry. It also includes many people and organizations covered on this blog: the X PRIZE Foundation and their partners, Innocentive, Cisco, the Freedom Prize, Changemakers ... and many I've never covered. Here's a sample of the speakers. For the space readers, note that Steve Isakowitz is in the "rumor mill list" of potential next NASA Administrators.

THOMAS KALIL - The White House - LUNCH KEYNOTE - The Power of Politics & Prizes - Governments are beginning to revisit the prize incentive model to find new ways to solve major problems within their communities and across borders. Mr. Kalil will discuss the government’s current and future use of prizes as a tool for addressing the grand challenges of the 21st century.

STEVE ISAKOWITZ - Chief Financial Officer United States Department of Energy - With massive efforts to revive the economy and address urgent energy policies, the new White House is looking to the Department of Energy to play a central role in kick starting an energy revolution.

DR. ANTHONY J. TETHER - Former Director Defense Advanced Research ProjectsAgency (DARPA) - Dr. Tether, Former Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), headed the DARPA Grand Challenge that led to the development of an autonomous ground vehicle. 35 teams were invited to the National Qualification Event, a rigorous eight-day vehicle testing period. This event was truly groundbreaking because for the first time autonomous vehicles were interacting with both manned and unmanned vehicle traffic in an urban environment.

PETER H. DIAMANDIS, M.D. - Chairman & CEO X PRIZE Foundation - Dr. Diamandis will show how the X PRIZE Foundation uses prize philanthropy to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Dr. Diamandis will share how the $10 Million Ansari X PRIZE drove $100 Million in team expenditures and launched a $1 Billion industry.

Google Lunar X PRIZE: Sponsorship Conference, VertiScooter, Tests, and More

I usually don't post about the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams announcements, since there are too many for me to keep up with, and by now if you're interested you should know to check there regularly. Every now and then I'll make an exception, though, and now seems like a good time for that.

A few weeks ago I mentioned the IEG Sponsorship Conference in Chicago with Peter Diamandis speaking. It looks like Lunatrex is there, too. They've also involved with a new product, the VertiScooter. Meanwhile ARCA shows some propulsion tests, Selene shows some rocket car testing, and more as you'll see at the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams site. Here's a cut-and-paste of the recent post headings:

Lunatrex: March 09, 2009
IEG Spnsorship Conference

Lunatrex: March 09, 2009
VertiScooter video on snow

Euroluna: March 09, 2009
Sunlight influence

Stellar: March 09, 2009
Team STELLAR update

Lunatrex: March 08, 2009
LunaTrex at IEG Sponsorship Conference

Lunatrex: March 08, 2009
Video of VertiScooter on land

Lunatrex: March 08, 2009
Video of VertiScooter on land

Lunatrex: March 08, 2009
LunaTrex lead company, AirBuoyant announces “VertiScooter”!

Selene: March 08, 2009
Rock(et) 'n' Roll

ARCA: March 07, 2009
ARCA propulsion tests

McGill and LaserMotive Beam Power Team Updates

Competition team updates… - Space Elevator Blog - This has updates from the McGill Space Elevaotr Team and LaserMotive.

Space Access 2009 - Who is Going?

Space Access 2009 - Why Homeschool -

Long time readers know that each Spring I head to Arizona to attend Space Access 2009. This year I'll again fly with my father. One of my brothers will join us in Phoenix.

As for me at Space Prizes, I went the last 2 years, but I doubt I'll go this year, as there's a lot to do at home with a 6-month-old who we've just found out has allergies.

Also, the list of speakers at Space Access '09 was updated yesterday.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Prize Roundup - March 6, 2009

Peter Kokh Has Won The Gerard K. O’Neill Award - National Space Society Blog

TRUMPF Inc. Tweets from TECMA - Industrial Laser Solutions - TRUMPF Inc.'s profile, launched this week at http://twitter.com/TRUMPFinc, is believed to be a first for social networking in the metal fabricating industry. ... In addition, Doar says that TRUMPF will be atwitter at the upcoming Space Elevator games at Cape Canaveral, Florida, in late April. TRUMPF is one of the event sponsors, and the company's TruDisk technology will be utilized at the competition.

Recall the note on the time and place of the 2009 Space Elevator Games being not quite settled yet.

The Ever Inventive Saul Griffith - Business Week (link from X PRIZE Foundation) -

Griffith and his staff of 30 engineers believe that wind can play a much bigger role in the energy revolution if they can harness the more powerful winds 1,000 to 3,000 feet up, which contain more energy per square foot than any other renewable source. They are developing wing-shaped kites to do just that.

This also includes a video interview and a Make Magazine video tour of Squid Labs (which apparently has the Origin of Species text on a wall, among other things).

E85: The Flex-Fuel Challenge - This is a contest, and here's how it works: produce a video, take a photo, or write a song about renewability (and hey- if E85 flex-fuel is part of the story, we wouldn't mind a bit).

Briefs: ARCA engine tests; Unreasonable tests; Biodiesel launch - RLV News

Meeting the 100mpg challenge - Automan, Oman's Car Magazine (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

Link Additions

I've added a few links to the blogroll/websiteroll to the right:

Maximizing Progress - See, for example, Geoffrey von Maltzahn ~ Top MIT Grad Inventor! on the Lemelson-MIT Student Invention Prize.

Science Fiction Awards Watch

Marooned - Science Fiction books on Mars - Winners of SF prizes and awards, and contestants in SF contests, appear frequently.

Idea Connection - The link is to their list of contests, but there are lots of other resources there on related approaches to innovation like crowdsourcing, open innovation, and so on. Here's the Home Page.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Healthcare X PRIZE Advisory Summit

X PRIZE Foundation, WellPoint and the WellPoint Foundation Hold Advisory Summit to Propose Ideas for Healthcare X PRIZE - X PRIZE Foundation press release:

The X PRIZE Foundation, an educational nonprofit prize institute that fosters innovation through competition, WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership and the WellPoint Foundation, one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, will host an Advisory Committee Summit today in Washington, D.C. to discuss ideas for the development of a Healthcare X PRIZE, as well as viable options for designing an incentivized competition that will tackle these challenges. ... Attending advisory committee members include: Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO, X PRIZE Foundation; Chad Pomeroy, Vice President, Consumer Innovation, WellPoint; Bill Bradley, former U.S. Senator; Elizabeth J. Dietz, Partner, Health care, IBM Global Business Services; Dr. Glenn Steele Jr., President and CEO, Geisinger; Dr. Jim Weinstein, Senior Author, "The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care"; John Doyle, CSO, Ascension Health and Yury Rozenman, Global Head of Marketing, Pharmaceutical Sector, BT Global Services.

Numerous Events on the Automotive X PRIZE Blog

The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Blog level of activity has been much higher lately:

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Media Exposure - From January 1 through December 31, 2008, the Prize received coverage on approximately 150 TV and radio stations across the globe, 100 national and international newspapers and 900 blogs and websites. ... The 2008 coverage equated to approximately 212 million print impressions, 299 million broadcast impressions and 650 million web impressions, totaling more than one billion impressions for the 2008 calendar year. The equivalent ad value was over $7 Million.

Registration Closes for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE - I cannot immediately provide an actual accounting of the number of applications that we received this week. I can say that it easily exceeds 50. Add these applications to the almost 40 Registered Teams that have previously been reviewed and accepted, and you can imagine that we are looking at a very compelling year to come. Not all of the new applicants will be accepted as a Registered Team. However, from the initial reviews, we anticipate having a very strong starting line up as we move to the next phase of the competition. ... After tonight, the competition will begin a transformation. Come Monday morning, our entire focus will change. The work of sharing new ideas and technologies from the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Registered Teams will begin in earnest.

Reasoning Behind the Purse Split

We've Got Mail - I'd guess that the big stack of mail is more teams registering with postmarked entries.

FuelOurFutureNow.com at NSTA - Planning on being at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) 2009 National Conference on Science Education in New Orleans, March 19-22?

Calling All Teams: New Opportunities for Funding and Press

Genius Rocket

Super Bowl Ads and the Rise of the Prize Economy - New York Times -

Mark Walsh, chief executive of the start-up Genius Rocket, loved this year’s Super Bowl — not so much the game, but the hit Doritos ad, the $1 million prize it won for the two brothers from Indiana and what their triumph represents. ...

His current venture, Genius Rocket, runs an online marketplace where people compete to get paid for their work, ranging from 90-second video ads for the Web to product logos and book covers. ...

The buyers, mainly consumer marketers, issue a request for work, describing what they want. Then, far-flung creators submit their work and the buying company picks one or a few winners. The prizes typically range from $5,000 to $500, Mr. Walsh said. ...

His stable of enterprising amateurs and freelancers possess “incredible talent,” Mr. Walsh said, and they can do advertising and marketing projects for a tenth the cost of traditional ad agencies. ...

March Mission Madness

NASA Hosts 'Mission Madness' Tournament to Vote on Greatest Mission - SpaceRef -

This interactive Internet online feature enables you to share your opinion about the agency's greatest missions. Space fans will be able to view a lineup of 64 missions, learn about their goals, and predict which missions fellow exploration fans will vote for during this bracket-style, single elimination tournament.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Don't Buy Plane Tickets Yet

Nothing new... - Space Elevator Blog - This reports that the location and dates for the 2009 Space Elevator Games I mentioned here aren't finalized in spite of the seemingly official notice, and describes what they've done in that direction so far and what the outstanding issues are.

There's also a mention of a Space Show appearance by LaserMotive's Jordin Kare.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Prize Teams Make Strong Showing at Space Access '09

Space Access '09 Conference - RLV News - In addition to the talks with prize connections (that I detect; there may be others) that I listed in my post on Space Access '09 Program Additions, the latest update on the list of confirmed Space Access '09 speakers includes the following:

Charles Pooley/Microlaunchers (and other N-Prize contestants)
TrueZer0/Scott Zeeb and Todd Squires

TrueZero is a Lunar Lander Challenge team, so if my count is correct the LLC has a very strong showing of 6 (past and present?) teams at the conference this year. Maybe with so many LLC teams there will be some kind of meeting with X PRIZE Foundation and/or NASA Centennial Challenges representatives? That's what I'd do, at least.

In the "other N-Prize contestants" department, as noted here, Kiwi 2 Space was at Space Access '08 and plans to be there for '09.

No More Pocket Protectors

I recently mentioned the Couture Fashion Week featuring Space Couture. Here's more now that the show has taken place:

Latest space fashion - Space for All

Beyond the jumpsuit: the future of space fashion - New Scientist:

Space tourists might enjoy this tailored approach to the classic flight jumpsuit, one of the winners of a Tokyo-based design contest co-sponsored by Rocketplane Global.

Robert Zubrin's new book "How to Live on Mars" also has some fashion advise for those of use who aren't models considering skin-tight space suits.

Masten DARPA Contract, Tests, Interns, Visitors, and More

Won a contract, progress on all fronts - Masten Space Systems