Thursday, April 30, 2009

ALS Biomarker Prize Awards

Prizes Awarded! - Prize4Life Blog - From the press release (PDF) -

InnoCentive, Inc. ... and Prize4Life ... announced that prizes totaling $100,000 will be awarded to two InnoCentive Solvers.
To recognize their significant accomplishments, Prize4Life will honor the recipients at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Seattle, WA.

The two winning solvers have shown significant progress in identifying biomarkers for ALS, but a validated biomarker that meets all of Prize4Life’s stated criteria has yet to be found. Therefore, in commemoration of Prize4Life’s third anniversary, the Prize4Life ALS Biomarker Challenge will reopen May 15, 2009 with a rolling deadline until closing October 2010.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Science Fiction Space Programs

2009 Nebula Awards - Science Fiction Awards Watch

Well Said, Dr. Griffin - Space Cynics -

A fictional space program will always be faster, better, and cheaper than a real space program.

- Mike Griffin, Goddard Award Dinner 2009

Operation Ares, a novel by Gene Wolfe - Marooned - Science Fiction Books on Mars

Lunar Lander Challenge Update

Still a challenge - The Space Review - Jeff Foust gives an update on the Lunar Lander Challenge, including an overview of the teams that presented at Space Access '09 and prospects for this year's competition.

4/23/2009: Hybrid Catalyst Test - SpeedUp - This includes a video on the left that might be easy to overlook (as it's a text link).

Unreasonable update - RLV News

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reporting from the NEO Law and Policy Conference

NEO CONFERENCE - Analysis of proposed NEO mitigation methods - Secure World Foundation -

Agnieszcka Lukaszczyk presented on the subject of "Move an Asteroid 2008 Competition" sponsored by the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). ... Lukaszczyk also introduced the Move an Asteroid 2009 Competition.

Update from the Conference on NEO Law and Policy - The Planetary Society Blog - Louis D. Friedman

More from the Conference on NEO Law and Policy - The Planetary Society Blog - Louis D. Friedman

Of course the Planetary Society ran the Apophis Mission Design Competition. Do they have anything similar in store for the future? A no-deadline prize for discovering large Earth impactors has always struck me as a good idea for a number of reasons.

More CAFE Aviation Green Prize Details

Here are the latest 2 notices from the CAFE Foundation on the CAFE Aviation Green Prize:

CAFE and NASA Plan Aviation Green Prize
Public Comment Period To Begin Soon
April 22, 2009

The CAFE Foundation is delighted to announce that a draft .pdf copy of the next NASA Centennial Challenge in Aeronautics, the Aviation Green Prize, has received a go-ahead from NASA to seek public comments. In order to allow sufficient time for teams to design and build their vehicles, this flight competition for aircraft capable of 200+ seat-miles per gallon is scheduled for mid July, 2011.
The document is available now [pdf 1.9 MB]. Public comment will be invited here in a short time.

CAFE posts FAA Guidelines for Field of View
Key guide document for Aviation Green Prize posted
April 22, 2009

To qualify for the Aviation Green Prize, all teams must fulfill the guidelines for Field of View for pilot and co-pilot
as described in FAA.AC25.773-1 [pdf, 410 kb].

Here are some excerpts from the draft rules:

CAFE has arranged for the following total prize purse to be funded by a collection of one or more private or government organizations (“FUNDERS”):

$1,653,000 for the CAFE Aviation Green Prize flight competition in 2011
An "Early Bird" discounted registration fee of $4000 will be accepted
The 2011 CHALLENGE will demonstrate new technologies for small aircraft that are potentially applicable to a wide range of future aviation missions including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Air-Taxi operations, homeland security surveillance, personal transportation, etc. For 2011, a maximum of 12 competitors will be accepted into the CHALLENGE.
Race 1 is for best Passenger-MPGe. Race 2 is for best Speed. Minimums of 100 mph and 200-passenger MPGe must be met in both races.

More Prize News Via Twitter

NASAPrize - at Electric Aircraft Symposium sponsored by CAFE Foundation

NASAPrize - Preliiminary announcement of Green Aviation Prize just made at Elect Aircraft Symposium event will be in July 2011

NASAPrize - yesterday met with CSA about Regolith Excavation and Spaceward on Power Beaming

glxp - New #GLXP Team Blog Please Open Your Lunar Hymnals to Page 79... ttp:// (on an Odyssey Moon talk)

progautoxp - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE compared to P.T. Barnum circus. (Note: The recent updates on the X PRIZE Foundation news scroller include this article and a couple other ones on the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE).

FIRSTAtlanta09 - - FIRST makes ScientificAmerican blog

FIRSTAtlanta09 - - FIRST in Popular Mechanics online

FIRSTAtlanta09 - Participate in Molecular Frontiers Prize by 5/6;win ipods go to http://www.molecularfrontie...

Philanthropy - Philanthropist to Create New Prize for Energy Innovation -

Thomas Siebel ... said today he plans to establish a $20-million prize to encourage the creation of affordable energy-efficient homes. ... Mr. Siebel said he plans to officially announce the prizes this fall. The awards will be given out in three phases: first, for the development of ways to reduce to zero the energy footprint of homes; second, for the design of houses that use that technology; and third, for the construction of the 10 types of homes that show the most promise. The home that performs the best, he said, will be awarded $10-million. Mr. Siebel said he would support the construction of a 100-home energy-free community based on the winning designs on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana.

mysocialimpact - Finalists announced in the Dell Social Innovation Competition!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prize Roundup - April 24, 2009

Next Up - A Look at the Next Few Weeks - Washington Post -

The Week of May 15
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy watching a rocket shoot skyward. You also don't have to travel to Florida to see a launch -- just go to Great Meadow on May 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

Students shoot for the moon in spacecraft contest - Purdue Exponent

Space exploration brought down to earth - JC Online -

While the class opted to buy a commercial rocket for its plan, everything else was designed by the class. ... "It is very realistic, and the challenges are typical of what you will be given in your work," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations, who sat in for the presentation. ... Westerman expects an increase in private space travel, the kind the Google contest is promoting, to happen soon. After graduation he will work at SpaceX -- Space Exploration Technologies Corp. -- a space transportation company.

NASA, Odyssey Moon to Create Robotic Lunar Landers - GearLog

There are also more updates on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page, including 2 from Odyssey Moon (one including more Engineering TV Bob Richards interview video).

Human genome map for sale on eBay - CNN

Mapping a Human Genome, via an eBay Auction - New York Times (link from X PRIZE Foundation) -

Proceeds will go to the X Prize Foundation, which is offering a $10 million prize to the first group that can sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days at less than $10,000 per genome. There are 17 entrants in the X Prize contest.

TopCoder—Crowdsourcing Software Long Before Crowdsourcing Got Cool - Xconomy Boston -

The modularity of the problems is a hugely important thing,” Harvard’s Lakhani says. “Only an IBM or an Accenture or a WIPRO could come in and try to create an entire ERP system. But if you break it down into small chunks, and create mini-contests around all of these problems, then you can lower the barrier to participating, so individuals or small teams can do it.”

Another part of the “secret sauce” at TopCoder, Lakhani says, is in the way the company integrates the chunks into finished systems. Not surprisingly for a company that takes competition so seriously, this part is largely outsourced as well, through software assembly contests. The company even handles the quality-assurance phase of software development, through application testing contests and so-called “bug races” (literal races to fix small software flaws, with the winners getting $25 to $100).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

News and Links Care of Twitterers

Pomerantz - Cool! Purdue students present plans for 3 different #GLXP vehicles (working with team Lunatrex):

Pomerantz - Fun new video from Armadillo: intentionally destabilizing a methane rocket to see how it handles. (via aRocket) #NGLLC

Also see Armadillo test video - RLV News.

Regolith_Chal - And the blog post with updated draft rules...

Pomerantz - Bostonians: @kdavidian & I, among others, will be speaking at the Museum of Science's "One Giant Leap" event!

Here's more on that event from the above link:

with Doug Cooke, associate administrator for exploration systems, NASA; Ken Davidian, "Encourage, Facilitate, and Promote" program lead, FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation; Joanne Gabrynowicz, JD, director, National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law, The University of Mississippi; William Pomerantz, senior director for space projects, X Prize Foundation; Moderated by Spencer Reiss, contributing editor, Wired Magazine.

mmealling - <-- StartupWeekend at NewSpace 2009 at NASA Ames in July

In other conference news: NewSpace 2009 to hold $5000 business plan competition - RLV News

glxp - Just found this blog post from a new #GLXP convert. Good writeup, complete with predictions:

Bob_Richards - Big Twitter pulse on stories of Odyssey Moon's @glxp lunar lander work with NASA

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 Electric Aircraft Symposium and Aviation Green Prize

The CAFE Foundation's 2009 Electric Aircraft Symposium is scheduled for this Friday. This includes the following talks:

3:10 PM The AGP: Aviation’s Green Prize—The Flight Competition for 100 MPG Aircraft, Brien Seeley M.D. President CAFE Foundation
3:40 PM My Dream Team in the AGP, Ron Gremban, Technical Director, CalCars

You can see some hints about Ron Gremban's talk at CalCars.

The Aviation Green Prize - The Aviation Green Prize: NASA's $1 Million Prize for Ultra-Safe 100-MPG Personal Commuter Aircraft - This is a presentation at the Commonwealth Club by Brien Seeley on May 27, 2009.

Electric Aircraft Symposium will take-off April 24 - AutoBlogGreen

Prize Roundup - April 22, 2009

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

Be an Integral Astronomer - Competition - SpaceRef - Participants will use data obtained by the Integral space observatory to investigate objects in one of the most active regions of our Galaxy.

Here's the ESA page for this competition. From the "Your Mission" link: Your mission is to examine INTEGRAL observations of variable X-ray sources in the Galactic Bulge, to interpret the data, to search for evidence of variability, and to report on your research.

Briefs: High power plasma thruster; Odyssey Moon - RLV News

Prize4Life Introduction from CEO Avi Kremer - Prize4Life Blog - In its almost three years of existence, Prize4Life has already become a major player in ALS. We’re funding two one million dollar prizes that each address significant research gaps.

The "Prize" in Prize4Life - Prize4Life Blog - The first prize that we launched was the ALS Biomarker Prize Challenge ... We are now excited to announce that we have received 12 submissions for the ALS Biomarker Prize challenge, all of which have been reviewed by our Scientific Advisory Board. ... teams competing come from ... Australia, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Russia, and the US. We will be making a public announcement regarding the status of this prize challenge in two weeks, so tune back into this blog for further updates.

Monday, April 20, 2009

NOAA Space Commerce News

The NOAA Space Commerce page has a news post on the Microgravity Research Competition Prize being awarded. I've covered that, so I want to mention something else that was linked there: the Space Prizes page, which has some space prize history and a section about the Microgravity competition. It also notes the following:

The Office of Space Commercialization strongly supports the use of space prizes as a means to spur commercial innovation in space. The Office is examing ways to potentially use the Commerce Department's Commercial Space Achievement Award authority to offer its own kind of space prize.

I've linked (without comment) to the Commercial Space Achievement Award page before, but I hadn't seen this link to it.

Here are some other pages that may be of interest:

Commercial Space-Based Earth & Space Weather Observations

2009 Rice University Business Plan Competition Winners

Rice University Business Plan Competition Awards $800,000 in Cash and Prizes. - Rice Alliance

This list includes the winner of the Heinlein Prize Trust/SpaceX Microgravity Award I mentioned in an earlier post. Here are the winners of the 4 NASA prizes at this year's competition:

Earth/Space Life Science Innovation Award

Integrated Diagnostics
U of California - Berkeley
$ 20,000
NASA Johnson Space Center

Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Awards

Troy Research
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
$ 20,000
NASA Johnson Space Center

Next Ray
U of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
$ 20,000
NASA Johnson Space Center

E&M Devices
U of California - Berkeley
$ 20,000
NASA Johnson Space Center

Some of these teams also won other awards at the competition, including a $100,000 Life Sciences Award and a 2nd place award in the overall competition for Next Ray.

Big Plans, Big Show, Rice's Business Plan Contest - My Venturepad - One of the judges covers the contest, including Next Ray and Integrated Diagnostics:

Next Ray, which took second place (and also won our best-written plan award, and the NASA life sciences award), a new technology that may be able to replace X-rays with only one tenth of the radiation. From the University of North Carolina.
Integrated Diagnostics, from the University of California at Berkeley, showed a quicker way to test blood for HIV.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Microgravity Research Competition Winner

Winner - LabFlight -

The winner of the Microgravity Research Competition is the Division of Nanomedicine of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, for a proposal on “Decoupling Diffusive Transport Phenomena in Microgravity.” The selection was announced by Art Dula, Trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust on April 18. Receiving the award was Principal Investigator Dr. Mauro Ferrari and his team. Click here to read the winning proposal. The UT team plans to use microgravity on the SpaceX Dragon to understand the law of nano-scale particle diffusion and then apply it to drug delivery and other commercial applications. Their award consists of the flight of their experiment and its return to Earth, a trip to Cape Canaveral to see the launch, and a grant of $25,000 from the Heinlein Prize Trust.

I haven't yet seen news about the winners of the following 4 prizes from the 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition:

NASA Earth/Space Life Science Innovation Award - $20,000 - Best LS plan with earth/space applications
NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Awards (3) - $20,000 - Best Eng. plan with earth/space applications (3)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Masten and Unreasonable

Post Space Access Technical Update - Jon Goff at Masten Space Systems

In this post, Jon mentions a Mojave Fly-in and Space-in on April 18 (today). He links to Yuri's Night Joins Mojave's Plane Crazy Saturday on April 18th - Mojave Skies -

All Mojave-based space development companies have been invited to display their rocketry hardware, and several have already committed to doing so. This is in addition to the usual display of not-so-usual aircraft which Mojave has come to be known for. Be sure to join us for an opportunity to see some of the hardware that's been lurking behind a number of Mojave's closed hangar doors!

Michael Mealling of Masten Space Systems gives an update on his team - The Launch Pad

Blogs: Unreasonable testing; Chuck Lauer interview; Student prizes - RLV News

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Student Prize Roundup - April 16, 2009

I thought with that big Student Prize Roundup yesterday, there wouldn't be much left in that department, but I was wrong:

“5 questions - cabling to Space” - Space Elevator Blog - The Kansas City Space Pirates present at a school.

Google Lunar X PRIZE: Astrobotic's Red Rover to Have Interactive Appearance, Stream Video - Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration - The appearance is at the Carnegie Mellon University Spring Carnival. Also see Come Meet Red Rover at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page.

iShoe in the running for Rice Business Plan prize - Space 2.0 Blog

Host a Rocket Contest - Space for All

I mentioned this before the event, and now the Launch Pad has a writeup and photos from the presenter: Yuri's Night with SEDS at the University of Michigan

FIRST Robotics Finals 2009 - Day One - The Launch Pad

NASA IPP at Open Innovation Panel

Open Innovation for Government - Center for Strategic & International Studies (link from Doug Comstock twitter) - Audio of the panel is available at the link. Doug Comstock from the NASA Innovative Partnership Program is on the panel. He mentions Centennial Challenges, COTS, the Conrad Awards, and other ways NASA is working on open innovation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Student Prize Roundup - April 15, 2009

Up … Up … and Away! - GM (Greater Milwaukee) -

On Sunday, the trio of Washington County 4-H Rocketry team members will launch a 31-pound rocket at the Student Launch Initiative in Huntsville , Ala. In 2007, the group earned a spot in the top 25 teams and finished in 15th place in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. ... The team has been working on the project for almost three months, and because it need FAA flight clearance to launch, it had its first trial run at the Quad City Rocket Challenge in Princeton , Ill. on April 4.

Student Launch Initiative 2008-2009 - Washington County 4-H Rocketry - This includes photos and video of the rocket (including an innovative rocket retrieval mechanism), as well as design information. The experiment:

Our payload/science experiment is to reclaim as much power as possible from 3 wind turbines located in tube fins. Each turbine will use a different blade design or configuration but with an identical Igarashi DC motor. The goal is to see which blade design is the most efficient. In addition, a thermoelectric generator will be mounted to the motor casing. Heat from the motor will be converted directly into electricity. The goal is to see how much, if any, electricity can be generated from heat.

Student Launch Initiative - NASA Student Launch Initiative page -

2009 Launch Dates: April 15-20, 2009
Bragg Farms, Toney, AL

2008 - 2009 SLI Teams:
--Boy Scout Troop 143, Giddings, Texas
--Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
--Denmark High School, Denmark, Wis.
--Frenship High School, Wolfforth, Texas
--Harvard-Westlake School, North Hollywood, Calif.
--Krueger Middle School, San Antonio, Texas
--Madison West High School Team 1, Madison, Wis.
--Madison West High School Team 2, Madison, Wis.
--Mulberry Grove High School, Mulberry Grove, Ill.
--Plantation High School Team 1, Plantation, Fla.
--Plantation High School Team X, Plantation, Fla.
--W.G. Enloe High School Green Team, Raleigh, N.C.
--W.G. Enloe High School Gold Team, Raleigh, N.C.
--Washington County 4-H, Slinger, Wis.

University Student Launch Initiative - NASA - This one also lists the teams, this time at the University level.

Rocket team preps for national competition - (The Huntsville Times)

Rocket Boys ready for Challenge -

Cansat Competition - SEDS India National Conference - SEDS India blog

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Partnership - Omega Envoy (Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page)

Mars Rover Demonstration - Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium -

The Oregon State University Robotics Club’s 2009 University Rover Challenge Team will host a demonstration of their new rover design on Saturday, April 25. The team will test their new rover design while performing tasks in biology, geology, soil analysis, emergency navigation and construction.

Mavric - Mars Analog Vehicle for Robotic Inspection and Construction - This is the blog from one of the 2009 University Rover Challenge teams - this one from Iowa State University. Today's update from the blog: Construction Update #3

MDRS Crew 79 Final Commander Report - Mars Society - Part of the report covers work done in association with the Georgia Tech URC team.

Microgravity Research Competition Finalists - These are the finalists for the SpaceX/Heinlein Trust/Rice Alliance competition for a spot on a DragonLab flight.

... A finalist competition will be held on April 17 at Rice University and the winner will be announced on April 18.

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston -- Decoupling Diffusive Transport Phenomena

Universities Space Research Association -- Low-Gravity Colloidal Engineering

Durham VA Medical Center/Duke University -- Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus

In addition to this finalist competition, the Rice Business Plan Competition will be held April 16-18. That includes $80,000 in "specialty" prizes to be awarded by NASA.

Meanwhile, the 8th Continent Business Plan Competition (formerly Lunar Ventures) schedule includes:

Round 2: Semi-Finalist Teams Only
Step 5: Upload Full Business Plan by 4/10/2009
Step 6: Present your Venture at 8th Continent Business Plan Competition on 4/24-26/2009

2009 What if Competition winners - The 2009 winners were scheduled to be part of the Conrad Award Innovation Summit held a couple weeks ago.

Earth Day Photo Contest for Grades 5-8 - Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium - This is held by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies:

... a trusted leader in Earth and space science education, communication and outreach, and in fostering national and international cooperation in global Earth observations.

Cornell 100 MPG Car Design Team to Participate in Int’l Competition - The Cornell Daily Sun -

At its inception approximately two years ago, there were six students in the 100+ MPG Team. Now, headed by William “Trey” Riddle grad, the team boasts a membership of approximately 90 students, both undergraduate and graduate, and three faculty advisors...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Prize Roundup - April 14, 2009

Some days its slow. - Unreasonable Rocket

Peter Diamandis twitter (from late April 13): just landed in DC. major X Prize announcement tomorrow on Healthcare. I already mentioned this press release: X PRIZE Foundation, WellPoint, to Announce Initial Design for Potential $10 Million X PRIZE to Revolutionize U.S. Health Care

New Competiton for Educators - Submit Uses of Hubble in Education - Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium - Educational Resources Blog - Here's the competition's Top Stars site.

Boston Micromachines Founder Dr. Thomas Bifano Awarded Bepi Colombo Prize - SpaceRef

I mentioned the I2I twitter recently; here's the I2I blog. (I2I = incentive2innovate "innovation prize/open collaboration" conference)

Three Mars stories nominated for 2009 storySouth Million Writers Award - Marooned - Science Fiction books on Mars

Hugo Awards Logo Contest (link from Science Fiction Awards Watch) -

You can become a part of Worldcon history by designing the official logo for The Hugo Award. ... The designer of the winning entry will receive a $500 cash prize (sponsored by SCIFI), a glass trophy featuring the winning design, a membership to an upcoming Worldcon, signed copies of Neil Gaiman’s Hugo Award-winning novel American Gods and novella Coraline and the collection Fragile Things, including the Hugo Award-winning short story “A Study in Emerald.” The winning designer will also have the right to use the logo and identify him/herself as its creator.

2009 Thacher Scholar Awards Entries Received by April 6, 2009 - I've mentioned this one before, but I'm a bit late on the deadline reminder. Winners should be announced May 12. Here's a description of the contest:

The 2009 Thacher Scholars Awards will be given to secondary school students (grades 9-12) demonstrating the best use of geospatial technologies or data to study Earth. Eligible geospatial tools and data include satellite remote sensing, aerial photography, geographic information systems (GIS), and Global Positioning System (GPS). The main focus of the project must be on the application of the geospatial tool(s) or data to study a problem related to Earth's environment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yuri's Night/Google Lunar X PRIZE talk

Viewpoint: The future of the space race - Michigan Daily

University of Michigan College of Engineering Calendar for April 14, 2009:

A Yuri's Night Celebration: Orphans of Apollo Documentary and X-PRIZE Talk

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is hosting a showing of Orphans of Apollo as part of Yuri's Night, a worldwide event commemorating Yuri Gagarin's first flight into space in 1961.

Orphans of Apollo is a documentary telling the story of MirCorp, the first private human spaceflight venture started by a small group of wealthy, dedicated, and visionary entrepreneurs. The documentary will be followed by a reception and a talk by former Google Lunar X PRIZE employee Pierre-Damien Vaujour.

Location: Rackham Amphitheatre
Date: Tue, Apr 14, 2009 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Contact: Greg Wagner
Additional Information

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Prize Roundup - April 12, 2009

Video interview with John Carmack - RLV News points to a Personal Spaceflight interview of John Carmack at what looks like the pool next to the Space Access conference room at the Grace Inn.

Nick Fontaine ~ MIT IDEAS Competition Inspires! - Maximizing Progress

Win Lunch with Legend Astronaut John Glenn in a Charity Auction - SpaceRef -

Hall of Fame Astronaut John Glenn is putting himself on the auction block to raise money for college scholarships for top engineering and science students through the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's online Auction of Astronaut Experiences & Memorabilia opening today at
The Glenn lunch is one of eight astronaut experiences featured in this auction. Bidders also have the opportunity to win astronaut autographs from the likes of Neil Armstrong and artifacts that flew in outer space and to the surface of the moon! More than 50 astronauts in all have donated items from their personal collection or signed artifacts for this worthy endeavor.

4th Annual Workshop and Flight Competition - US - European MAV -

The IMAV09 flight competition is made up of two distinct competition events:

The first is an indoor event designed to test the capabilities of flapping wing, rotary wing, and VTOL micro air vehicles against various challenges faced in indoor or urban environments. These challenges range from autonomous operations in confined spaces created by the interior of a building, to controlled navigation through wind gusts, to automated maneuvering and control.

The second is an outdoor event designed for fixed wing, rotary wing, and VTOL micro air vehicles. The set of challenges associated with the outdoor event tests the capabilities of the system to operate in open areas at a distance and to effectively utilize onboard/off-board sensors to meet various technical requirements.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Prize Roundup - April 11, 2009

Ok, I'm back online. I'm going to make this a RoundUp post to cover the last few days.

Top teams set for final round of Team America Rocketry Challenge - Rocketry Planet (AIA press release) -

The top 100 student rocketry teams in the country are ready for the final round of competition of the Team America Rocketry Challenge next month after AIA announced the qualifiers for the fly-off on Friday.

Here are the finalists. Is a high school near you one of them?

Robert Richards and Odyssey Moon BOTH nominated for World Technology Awards! - Odyssey Moon (Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams site)

Robots: The Race to the Moon - Robots Podcast -

In this episode, we take-off for the moon with Prof. William "Red" Whittaker who is the director of the Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University in the US.


Congratulations to SEDS VIT for winning "The Best Student Chapter Award" of VIT University, Vellore for the year 2008-09.

Spacehack now has an entry on the Regolith Excavation Challenge.

X PRIZE Foundation, WellPoint, to Announce Initial Design for Potential $10 Million X PRIZE to Revolutionize U.S. Health Care - X PRIZE Foundation

Prize4Life Interview with Makers of ALS Film Trapped - Prize4Life blog

RLV News has a number of prize posts, including several on the Space Access '09 conference:

Symantec contest awards ZERO-G & suborbital space flights Space Access'09 review - Space prizes and prize teams appear throughout the conference summary, links, and slide presentation.

Briefs: Space Adventures interview; Space border; SA'09 picts -The Space Access '09 pictures include a bunch of the Lunar Lander Challenge panel.

Briefs: Microlaunchers; Orphans of Apollo - A link to the Space Access '09 Microlaunchers N-Prize talk is included.

BonNova SA'09 presentation

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Prize Roundup - April 8, 2009

I'm going to be offline for a day or 2 during some house work, so I thought I'd get a quick RoundUp/CatchUp post in:

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award Winners - SpaceRef shows a press release with the winners in the Personal Spaceflight, Lunar Exploration, and Renewable Energy categories.

ROCKET RACERS TAKE IT SLOWER - Cosmic Log - This update, which features some news from Space Access '09, also features Lunar Lander Challenge team Armadillo Aerospace and hints on when the Lunar Lander Challenge will happen this year.

Armadillo's Space Access 2009 video - RLV News

Peter Diamandis twitter: There are lots of quick but interesting tidbits here. The recent ones:

AI physician or Doc in a Box... diagnose as well as any 10 board certified docs

great meetings working on an Artificial Physician X PRIZE for the developing world

Today we announced 111 teams from 11 Nations entering 136 vehicles into the Progressive Auto X PRIZE! Great WSJ article

Just back from great meetings at the White House briefing OSTP & OMB on Progressive Auto X PRIZE, Health Care X PRIZE and our top 20 ideas!

There's a lot more news about the 111 registered Automotive X PRIZE teams that Dr. Diamandis mentioned:

Full List of Automotive X Prize Teams - X PRIZE Cars blog
111 Teams Get Green Light to Advance in Multimillion Dollar Competition - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE press release
Progressive Auto X PRIZE Team to Live Blog on Thursday, April 9 - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE blog
Teams Race to Build Super-Fuel-Efficient Car - Wall Street Journal online (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

Here are some other X PRIZE Foundation twitters (besides the ones I already have on the right):

I2I - (Incentive to Innovation conference)

Here's another Google Lunar X PRIZE team on Twitter:


From the Space Elevator Chat:

Ted Semon, President, International Space Elevator Consortium (ISEC) & the owner of the Space Elevator Blog
April 7 ...
Topic: The International Space Elevator Consortium & other news
The transcript will be available April 8.

A couple of the other chats were rescheduled/postponed.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - April 6, 2009

Space access 09 - Unreasonable Rocket

SA'09: Mind the Space Gap; Unreasonable presentation - RLV News - The comments also include a picture of the Unreasonable Rocket at the conference.

UKAYRoC 2009 Winners - UKRA - United Kingdom Rocketry Association

ISEC needs you! - Space Elevator Blog - ... Several levels of membership are being offered, including standard, student and premium. Membership includes incentives, discounts and member-only activities at ISEC events such as the Space Elevator Conference and Space Elevator games. ...

Bangor Area Students Launch Rocket -

Prizes in Everything - Awkward Utopia - Mike Fabio from the Google Lunar X PRIZE appears in the comments.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Prize4Life Activity

Prize4Life, which offers innovation prizes for combating ALS, has several events planned:

BLOG LAUNCH APRIL 6th! - Welcome to the Prize4Life Blog. The blog launch is set for Monday, April 6th with unique content that can't be found anywhere else about Trapped, a short film profiling an musician who won't let ALS stop him.

The blog will publish new content from members of the Prize4Life and larger ALS communities. New content will be fresh an regularly posted. Please subscribe and become a follower of the blog to keep up with what's new!

Prize4Life Celebrates 3rd Birthday! - On May 15th, Prize4Life is celebrating our 3rd birthday! Check out our Guest Book to see who is celebrating with us and to see progress toward our $30,000 Birthday Party goal to help accelerate the discovery of a treatment and a cure for ALS.

Prize4Life Exhibiting in Seattle - Prize4Life is exhibiting at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, April 25 - May 2 in Seattle, WA. If you'll be at the meeting, stop by booth 2308a to say hello and to hear about some of the exciting projects we're working on.

Event in Culver City, California - Culver City, CA -- Join us for a dinner and wine tasting to celebrate the premiere of "Trapped," a short film about ALS! ... The event will include a gourmet four-course meal, including three wine tastings with each course. Tickets are $120 per person, $200 per couple. ...

UK Space Conference 2009

On top of Space Access, the Moonbuggy Race, the Conrad Award Innovation Summit, and the Atlantic VEX Regional Robotics Championship, this weekend also includes the last day of the UKSC 2009 (UK Space Conference). Here are some of the events and discussions from that conference related to prizes, awards, and competitions:

UKAYRoC - Is a model Rocket competition the final of which will be held at Charterhouse on April 2nd. Those schools that have qualified for the final will fly their model rockets, which are designed to achieve a precise flight profile. The team that comes gets closest win a trip to the United States to take part in a American competition.

Richard Garriott on the Cassini Challenge - YouTube - Richard Garriot provides his thoughts on the Cassini Challenge. Students aged 11-18 can win the opportunity to control the Cassini Spacecraft and be scientists for the day.

The Sir Arthur Clarke Awards - Recognising UK achievements in Space

Pomerantz twitter - Up and at 'em early: my video-conferenced talk to the UK Space Conference starts in about 20 minutes.

Once We Had A Rocket - A premiere viewing of the Once We Had A Rocket (2008) - a documentary account of Britain’s post war programme to build a rocket that would launch satellites into space. ... this documentary has distinction of being the winner of the Audience Poll at the Eighth Imperial War Museum Student Film Competition.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Moonbuggy and FIRST Robotics Blogs

NASA has a blog for the Great Moonbuggy Race: Great Moonbuggy Race Blog.

They also have one for FIRST Robotics Team 1868.

Phoenicia LOX and Helium Sponsor/Supplier

New Sponsor: AirGas - Team Phoenicia:

AirGas, the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related hardgoods, is sponsoring Team Phoenicia by providing all of the liquid oxygen (LOX) and helium that the team needs for thorough testing and participation in the LLC.

Juxtopia VEX Robotic Competition

From Will Pomerantz twitter:

RT @JUXTOPIA_JURBAN: Student teams from China, Sweden, & the USA prepare to battle today at the Juxtopia VEX Robotic Competion.

Here's more about this competition:

2009 Championships - Juxtopia® Atlantic VEX Coastal Regional Robotics 2009 Championships (PDF) - This is at Coppin State University in Baltimore, MD, April 2-4.

VEX Robotics Competition

One of the objectives of the Google Lunar X PRIZE team JURBAN is to

Prepare public middle and high school as well as HBCU/MSI teams to compete in national and international robot challenges including, but not limited to the FIRST Robotics Program, VEX robot competitions, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) robotic challenges, X PRIZE foundation robot challenges, etc.

Conrad Awards Innovation Sumit at NASA Ames

Doug Comstock twitter:

Just got into San Francisco from Colorado Springs. Off to Ames for Conrad Innovation Summit -- great ideas from High School students!

Here's the schedule of events at the Innovation Summit on April 2-4.

The Conrad Foundation also sent out this press release last week: The Conrad Foundation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Announce Partnership:

Through this partnership, student teams in the space categories will receive counsel and support from the general AIAA membership. In addition, AIAA members will serve as judges in the lunar exploration and personal spaceflight categories. Team finalists will also have the opportunity to present their product concepts at AIAA events, such as the AIAA 2009 Space Conference and Expo at the Pasadena Convention Center, in Pasadena, Calif., Sept. 14-17 . AIAA will provide memberships to the top three teams in the aerospace competition categories.

Space Access '09 Prize Posts

Unlike the last 2 years I'm not at Space Access this year, so I won't be summarizing the prize talks. I'll link to the summaries I see, though. I plan to update this post as the conference proceeds.

Notes: Space Access'09: Thursday - Evening session - Part 2 - RLV News - This one covers

Unreasonable Rocket - Lunar Lander Challenge competitor:

- Will pursue both 90sec and 180sec NG-LLC levels this year.
- Looking past NG-LLC to more rocket building.
- New amateur rules greatly ease testing
- Plan to go to go to 100km with a few kg payload.
- Believe there is a market for such a vehicle and this sort of launch service.
- Also, want to sell various components and engineering services.


Microlaunchers - N-Prize competitor:

- Work up from ground tests, to low altitude, to 100km, and then to orbit.
- Hardware component costs alone are in $1000 range.

Space Access 2009 - Paul Breed - Unreasonable Rocket - Why Homeschool:

Paul blogs about their experience at his blog Unreasonable Rockets. They had a rocket just outside the conference room here in Phoenix.

Space Access 2009 - Charles Pooley - N-Prize - Why Homeschool

Notes: Space Access'09: Friday - Morning - Part 2 - RLV News - This one includes Lunar Lander Challenge team High Expectations Rocketry.

Space Access 2009 - Keith Stormo - High Expectations Rocketry - Why Homeschool

Notes: Space Access'09: Friday - Afternoon - Part 2 - RLV News - Lunar Lander teams BonNova and TrueZer0 are featured.

Space Access 2009 - Bob Noteboom - BonNova - Why Homeschool

Space Access 2009 - Scott Zeeb and Todd Squires - TrueZer0 - Why Homeschool

Notes: Space Access'09: Friday - Evening - RLV News - Kiwi 2 Space (N-Prize team) is in this one. There are two sites to check: - the Kiwi 2 Space website (recently started) and the Kiwi 2 Space blog.

Space Access 2009 - Iain Finer, N-Prize Contestant: Team Kiwi 2 Space - Why Homeschool

Armadillo - Transterrestrial Musings -

Lunar Challenge has been beneficial, but has also been a distraction from their goals, and the revenue makes it worthwhile in hindsight. Will be competing for Level Two this year, and they hope to make their attempts from their home field when season begins in July.

Notes: Space Access'09: Saturday Morning - Part 2 - RLV News - This includes Armadillo Aerospace.

Space Access 2009 - John Carmack - Armadillo Aerospace - Why Homeschool

Masten Space Systems - Transterrestrial Musings

Notes: Space Access'09: Saturday afternoon - Part 1 - RLV News. This one includes Masten Space Systems:

- May go for NG-LLC level 1

and Speed Up:

- Laramie Rose NG-LLC vehicle
-- Operating in Armadillo mode was the goal but difficult to keep up to a similar pace without same resources.
-- Behind Unreasonable Rocket so will probably won't compete for Level I.
-- Not in Level II capability.
-- But want to achieve at least short sustained hover

Space Access 2009 - Dave Masten of Masten Space - Why Homeschool

Space Access 2009 - Bob Steinke - SpeedUp - Why Homeschool

Notes: Space Access'09: Saturday afternoon - Part 2 - RLV News - The conference ends with an all-star cast:

Paul Breed and son, Ben Brockert, John Carmack, Dave Masten, Keith Stormo, Bob Steinke, Scott Zeeb, Todd Squires, Bob Noteboom, Allen Newcomb, Lunar Lander Challenge panel

They discussed Lunar Lander Challenge plans:

-- Bonnova - will to compete in Level I and II this year
-- Steinke - not this year
-- TrueZer0 - not this year
-- Zeeb - Ask in a couple of months. Depends on funding.
-- Masten - will depend on status of vehicle.
-- Carmack:
-- Make attempt soon after window opens. Will go after Level II. Not going after Level I, second place.
-- Remember that nobody has Level I wrapped up. Just as with Armadillo in 2006-2007, problems can arise that prevent the favorite from winning.
- Armadillo had done many flights prior to competition yet still didn't win in those years.
- Breed - expect to go after Level I with Blue Ball. Not sure if they can have a Level II vehicle ready.

They also discussed a lot of other important topics, like rocketry details and future business and personal plans for the teams.

Space Access 2009 - Panel on Lunar Lander Challenge - Why Homeschool

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Space Prize Roundup - April 2, 2009

Spaceport Could Spur CRE Development in New Mexico - Commercial Property News - Lunar Lander Challenger Armadillo Aerospace is mentioned:

... an assortment of research parks and mixed-use industrial projects are on the drawing board or under way, such as New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Research Park, which will be on a 257-acre site at the junction of I-25 and I-10 in Las Cruces, plus business park development near the airports in both Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences. “Between Virgin Galactic as the anchor tenant and other new entrants, such as UP Aerospace and Armadillo Aerospace, there will be a space-related cluster will spawns commercial uses in the area,” Hummer noted.

NASA's Off-World Racing Begins April 3 with 16th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race - SpaceRef

Mars Society Christens “Colbert Mars Desert Research Station” - Mars Society - Colbert gets a consolation prize:

Assuming that that the ISS node is not named “Colbert,” we believe Mr. Colbert deserves a much better consolation prize than having a space toilet named after him, as has been suggested. The Mars Society will therefore rename our Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) near Hanksville, Utah to the “Colbert Mars Desert Research Station” for one week in April, 2009.

Podcasts of readings of 2008 Nebula short story nominees - Space for All

Briefs: GLXP in Asia; Team Phoenicia update - RLV News - From the post and comments it sounds like we can expect lots more news from Team Phoenicia soon. In fact ... fast on the heels of the Phoenicia post noted by RLV News comes this one:

New Sponsor: Online Metals - Team Phoenicia:

Online Metals has agreed to and delivered the material necessary for the construction of the structure our rocket, The Wind at Dawn. Even more graciously, they are in the process of delivering the material for a second rocket and enough for a third will follow as Team Phoenicia is ready. ... The Wind at Dawn's first structure will be complete within a week. Without Online Metals' help, this would not have happened nearly as quickly or as well. We thank them deeply for their aid.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

National Space Society New Moonth

It's April ... I'd intended to post a winning picture from the 2009 National Space Society Space Settlement Art Calendar contest at the beginning of each month, but I haven't remembered to do that, even though I've remembered to flip the calendar on my wall. This month's picture featuring thriving Martian vegetation is appropriate given the recent news of Odyssey Moon's intention to bring a flower to the Moon.

While discussing the National Space Society, I should mention the NSS Gerard K. O'Neill Memorial Award, which this year goes to Peter Kokh. From the main NSS page:

The National Space Society Awards Committee is pleased to announce that longtime space movement activist and editor of the Moon Miners’ Manifesto, Peter Kokh, is the winner of the 2009 Gerard K. O’Neill Award for Space Settlement Advocacy. Peter was the co-founder (in 1986) and is current president of the Lunar Reclamation Society (NSS Chapter) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is also currently president of the Moon Society, an NSS affiliate organization. He is the editor and principal writer for the Moon Miners' Manifesto, which has been published monthly continuously since December, 1986, which is now up to issue 222 in its 23rd year of publication, and which is the longest running printed pro-space publication of its type. Peter has also previously served on the NSS Board of Directors and was chair of the International Space Development Conference held in Milwaukee in 1998. He is currently a member of the NSS Board of Advisors, and maintains an extensive web site for his chapter.