Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where to find Lunar Lander Updates; Space Elevator Prep, ARCA, Google Earth/Sketchup Contest, More

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

There's been a lot of activity with the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge that I haven't kept up to date on in the Space Prizes blog over the last few days. Although I have been watching the events, I don't have more to add to the excellent coverage already available. Some good places to keep up to date include RLV News, the X PRIZE Foundation's The Launch Pad, some of the twitter accounts at the twitter list I set up (for example, accounts under the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and X PRIZE Foundation headings), and the NGLLC twitter tag. If those aren't enough, these point you to more information sources. Note that the RLV News and Launch Pad links are to specific posts; they have many more and more will probably be on the way.

Space Elevator Games

Only 5 more days… - The Space Elevator Blog (and that was a couple days ago) - In addition to setup for the games, this includes a number of links to posts at the Space Elevator Games site.

KC Team Competes to Build an Elevator to Space -

@lasermotive - The truck has stopped for the night, almost halfway to Mojave.

Google Lunar X PRIZE

Helen loaded onto ship - ARCA at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

Here's another Google Lunar X PRIZE Forum.

Other Prizes

Your 3D buildings arrive in Google Earth and Shelter Competition winners announced - Google Earth Blog

MIT Elevator Pitch Contest ~ Finale Thurs 10/29! - Maximizing Progress

U.S.-European Space Cooperation: Go Boldly, and Go Together - The German Marshall Fund blog proposes that NASA and ESA join forces to offer major space exploration prizes. The space agencies would also continue to fund science missions. The government would also provide common launch facilities and space communication networks for the private explorers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prize Roundup: 2009 Lunar Lander Challenge and Space Elevator Games Even Closer, GLXP Variety, X PRIZE Meeting, Regolith Reviews, New Mexico News

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

@nasaprize - on the way to california for the final lunar lander attempts of 2009

@dmasten - We have been testing so much our Pad A looks worse than the lunar pad.

I think we are ready for #ngllc level 2. All tests are done. Last was a nice stable hover of 195sec in 30+ knot winds.

@mojaverocketguy - In at the shop, bright and surly. At least not 4:50am like last Tuesday.

Bad news: Missed seeing the flight because I someone had to stay for the UPS delivery. Good news: Xoie's fine and I heard it from the shop.

Doing concrete work in 50mph wind gusts--not fun. Good thing I got myself a college edjumacation so I wouldn't have to do jobs like that...

@ngllc09 - #NGLLC news update on The Launch Pad:

NGLLC 2009: And Here They Come Down the Final Stretch! New post on The Launch Pad: #ngllc

Tune in tmrw for webcast of Masten Lvl 2 #NGLLC attempt starting at 9am PST/16:00 UTC:

Unreasonable update - RLV News

BonNova recap - RLV News

Briefs: Speed Up hybrid test; Source of rocket grade H2O2 - RLV News

I'm posting these Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge updates on Wednesday morning:

Unreasonable ups and downs - RLV News

Masten Space Level II attempt - Oct..28.09 - viewing info - RLV News - Using the #ngllc twitter search on this page, you can already see a lot of tweets on the event as people get ready to go, like these:

alias_amanda: Only for a rocket launch could I be up at 4am and be somewhat happy about it #ngllc

ikluft: I'll be tweeting from Mojave today for the @mastenspace flight in Level 2 of the Lunar Lander Challenge #ngllc

Pomerantz: Made it to Mojave (& gave #NGLLC team SpeedUp's Bob Steinke a ride on the way up). Excited for tmrw's @mastenspace flights! Godspeed, Xoie

Space Elevator Games: Power Beaming/Tether Climber

@lasermotive - The designing, building and testing is finally done. Today the packing begins. We are ready.

@segames - Very good - just organized a commentary team for the live cast. (Live video has a lot of boring moments, and while we have some B-roll+ ... material, there's nothing like play-by-play descriptions.)

NASA Centennial Power Beaming Challenge to Feature Three Teams - The Space Elevator Reference

Games updates - The Space Elevator Blog

Briefs: Power Beaming Challenge; Regolith scraper - RLV News

Regolith Excavation Challenge

@doug_comstock - Check out cool Gigapan images (a nasa spinoff from the Regolith Excavation Challenge:

@paulsrobotics - WPI Reception for the team is currently scheduled for Wednesday at 2PM in HL005 (we think). Feel free to stop by...

Also see the RLV News link in the previous section for another Regolith Excavation Challenge article.

Google Lunar X PRIZE

@team_selenokhod - The first Selenokhod mockup rollout:

The first Russian private-built-rover at Mission Control Center: That was amazing!

@nextgiantleap - Nice day for a drive to Louisville, CO, but looks like snow for the way home. ... Looking forward to meetings at SNC tomorrow!

@omegaenvoy - With our rover naming contest coming to an end, will you be the one to break the tie? #GLXP

Notice the new name (with an underscore) on the twitter address for this next one:

@Odyssey_Moon - Odyssey Moon Chief Scientist Dr. Paul Spudis on lunar lava tubes:

@arcaspace - Octomber 23, 2009 - CONSTANTA The first launch attempt of Helen vehicle will take place starting with October 29...

Other Prizes

Economy, rule change ground X Prize plans - Las Cruces Sun: Landeene said the X Prize Cup does spur interest in aerospace among students.

"Ultimately, what I'd like to do is have X Prize-like events at the spaceport and surrounding community," he said.

Spaceport Visitor Center Approved - - KRWG TV: The Board of Directors of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has voted to establish a welcome center for Spaceport America in downtown Truth or Consequences... A welcome center is also planned for the village of Hatch which is on the southern approach to Spaceport America.

@fineri (N-Prize team) - - Plumbing all done, cone needs finishing, electronics and engine need integrating.

@peterdiamandis - Great X Prize Trustees dinner at Elon Musk's home... great crowd, Sergey Brin, Ansari Family, Beyster's, Mike Boustridge, Jim Gianopulos... great to also host Esther Dyson, Peter Bloom, Rob McEwen, Erik Lindbergh and Peter Ferrel

i am searching for a strong Director/Chief of Staff to work with me as CEO of X Prize, MBA desired. LA base @ XPF HQ

Sunday, October 25, 2009

2009 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Approaches

Unreasonable progress - RLV News

Briefs: Unreasonable progress; NGLLC in The Economist - RLV News

@NGLLC09 - Two Moon related prizes - the @NGLLC09 and the @Regolith_Chal - get write-up in the Economist!

Briefs: Masten propellant tanks; BonNova on NGLLC stage - RLV News

From Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation (PDF) (i.e. the Augustine Committee's final report):

All three variants [of the Committee's Flexible Path option] also include a hybrid lunar lander that is smaller than the Altair. (See Figure 6.2.2-2.) The ascent stage is developed by NASA, but the descent stage is assumed to be commercially developed, building on the growing industrial capability pursuing NASA’s Lunar Lander Challenge and the Google Lunar X-Prize.

@wikkit - This year it didn't rain before the wind picked up, so we worked in a dust storm for most of the day. Going to be a gray shower tonight.

@mastenspace - RT @rbranly: Designing educational payloads to fly aboard Masten Space Vehicles.

Preview of final week of NGLLC 2009 - RLV News shows a press release from the X PRIZE Foundation on the week of events.

Update (Sunday evening):

Armadillo flies higher - RLV News

NGLLC: BonNova bows out; Unreasonable update; Masten update - RLV News

@nasaprize - No Lunar Lander Challenge attempts on Mon or Tuesday but Masten and Unreasonable Rocket are still on for Wed-Saturday attempts

Update (Monday morning):

@wikkit - If you're interested in coming to our LLC flights this week or other tests, send me an email at .

@mastenspace - RT @rbranly: The MSS payload capsule demonstrator project includes a multispectral imager as a flight option.Aiming 4 imager mass of 500g

2009 Beam Power/Climber Competition Approaches

Power Beaming Challenge ready to shine - RLV News - This has a lot of essential links for the games, including links to the teams. It also gives an overview of what the status is for the games.
LaserMotive is doing a countdown ... note that this one was from Oct 22:

@lasermotive - T minus 9 days until we leave town for Dryden.

Pre-competition update from the Kansas City Space Pirates - The Space Elevator Blog shows some of the testing the KC Space Pirates are doing.

Space Elevator Games - Current Status (10/24) - The "Current Status" is in box on the right side of this site; the link I've given is to the overall site. Here's the currrent status:

One week to go... Everything on schedule so far. Flying to Washington to prep the helicopter on Thursday, then driving to Dryden to meet the teams on Sunday. Setup begins Monday morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

After the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge, Getting Ready for Big Lunar Lander Challenge Week, Automotive X PRIZE Downselect, More

Regolith Excavation Challenge

@regolith_chal - NASA Administrator Charles Bolden talks about how @regolith_chal winners help to inspire the next generation:

@doug_comstock - It looks like all 3 prizes for Regolith Excavation Challenge will be awarded!! See pictures of the competition:

@paulsrobotics - We won! Special thanks to our sponsors: WPI, Barnstorm Cycles, Hydro-cutter, AIAA New England, and Hacker Dojo! #WPI

article on msnbc great photo of the team with the #WPI flag

This article includes a video of us excavating from the New Scientist

Big Win - $750,000 in Prize Money for Lunar Excavators - The Launch Pad

From Regolith Excavation Challenge 2009:

Photos by Jamie Foster are here: Regolith-Media.
Many more photos by Jamie Foster are here: Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

(I've already pointed out some of the other links there to Regolith Excavation Challenge photos, videos, news, and more.)

@pkhomer - ... We were allowed a demo run in the sandbox after the final presentations. Our bot delivered JSC-1A at a rate of over 2 kilos per second!

... We didn't, and the teams that did put it all together won fair & square. One thing we got very right is the digger...

Will post video & details in a few days when i get home.

Google Lunar X PRIZE

@teamfrednet - Some of our members are working on a high altitude balloon to be launched soon. Here is a video showing some tests:

@arcaspace - ARCA message in the World Kids Stories E-book no 3, after the Obama family introduction

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Unreasonable update - RLV News

Briefs: Unreasonable update; NGLLC schedule. - RLV News

@unrocket - On site at 630

@wikkit - - MSS Strategic Helium Repository, or the source of Talk Like a Tween Tuesday. - I sent a bit of text to the AV press, and they ran a nice article.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

@progautoxp - Auto X Prize cuts green-car contest pool in half

Check out this multimedia news release for details, videos, slideshow and more

ThinkWrap, Auto X Prize partner for "near-real time" race vehicle monitoring - Autoblog Green

Students build green cars for $7.5M in prizes - Today Show (link from X PRIZE Foundation)

Design Judging Complete: Over Half of All Entries Eliminated - Progressive Automotive X PRIZE blog

Space Elevator Games - Power Beaming/Climbing

@lasermotive - Autumnal illnesses are striking many of us. I hope we're all healthy for the competition!

Power beam climbing at the local REI store - RLV News

Other prizes

Cheap Contest II - Selenian Boondocks

@glxp - Calling all coders! @_TopCoder_ announces NASA challenge to benefit human spaceflight: (thx @spaceguy)

@pomerantz - RT @tim846: NASA FIRST Robotics Grants Available - applications due Nov. 2! More info at (via @defygravity0G)

NASA Chief Praises Commercial Spaceflight, Suborbital Science, & Innovation Prizes in Speech - Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Continuing Regolith Excavation Challenge Coverage

Here's a continuation of the Regolith Excavation Challenge coverage I started in this post:

Regolith Challenge Update: Braundo Rancho Qualified for Prize - Parabolic Arc summarizes the events of the day.

Lunar Regolith Challenge Photos - Parabolic Arc (the post above also has some nice pictures)

Video: Lunar Excavator in Action - Parabolic Arc

@pkhomer - Tech Ranch has lost their camera! Digging well by blind reconning, but missing the collector.

Rock paper digger. Paper covers rock, rock beats digger! C2 Technologies, also driving blind, runs over rock and gets stuck.

@paulsrobotics - Moonraker from our quick photoshoot the other night

@spacemansam - This is what happens when you don't design a lunar rover to handle rocks and soft soil.

NASA 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Kicks Off - California Space Authority press release at SpaceRef

NASA 2009 Regolith Excavation Games Continue Into Second Day - California Space Authority press release at SpaceRef

Regolith Excavation Challenge 2009 has a number of updates from the competition and shortly before it started:

2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Presenters (PDF)

@glxp - now that's dust! #regolith2009 (via @spacemansam)

The Moonraker officially qualified! Nice job, @paulsrobotics #regolith2009

@nasaprize - Paul's Robotics run was a qualifying one with the highest mass so far

@spacemansam: Prepping a regolith garden requires the skills of a Zen Master. #regolith2009

Moonraker filled up the bin! The scale overloaded! OMG! #regolith2009

Update (Sunday evening):

@pkhomer - Team Terra delivers 270.6 kilos to take 2nd place.

@spacemansam: Team Terra works TOO well. Overloads its own bucket. #regolith2009

@spacemansam: Updated photos from 8am to 1pm today #regolith2009

Regolith Excavation Challenge update - RLV News - As this post notes, Parabolic Arc has numerous posts on the event. The one I linked has the latest update showing that with 1 team left there are already teams qualified to take first, second, and third places.

Regolith Excavation Main Event Starts Today; NSS SE Team Videos, Robots

Regolith Excavation Challenge

The Stage is Set - Regolith Excavation Challenge

As the main regolith competition approaches, the Regolith Excavation Challenge twitter is for obvious reasons sending out a lot of messages. Here are just a few of them.

@regolith_chal - Here is a gigapan image from earlier today:

Thanks @spacevidcast for the fun and well researched video about the regolith challenge.

... We will be posting video clips during event and lots of video will be recorded for distribution later.

@paulsrobotics - #WPI robot has arrived at NASA Ames! Waiting for check-in...

#WPI robotics team is @ NASA competition this weekend (via @WPIAlumni)

@nasaprize - In Mountain View CA for Regolith Excavation Challenge today and tomorrow - met with judges last night - teams & venue look great

Update (Saturday afternoon):

A Regolith Challenge team qualifies for purse - RLV News - This also includes a tag that some of the twitter updates are using:

@Regolith_Chal: BTW, the official tag for flickr and other media is #regolith2009.

Here are some of the updates I see using that tag:

@motorbikematt: Check out the Lunar Regolith Excavation Challenge robots #regolith2009

By the way, that picture collection from motorbikematt is well worth checking out.

@spacemansam: Roboexcavators! This is gonna get messy!

Team has an impressive control interface, including stereoscopic cameras! #regolith2009

GLXP has a number of updates already, and most of them come with links to pictures. Here's one; click on the glxp link or the tag for more:

@glxp - - Team Astrobotic is up in about a half hour with their Moondiggers A robot. Good luck! #lunarRC

Peter Homer of Astronaut Glove Challenge fame is also making some updates:

@pkhomer - 6 of 20 teams done, only 1 successful. We don't know when our turn until 1/2 hour before. I'm updating via Twitter @pkhomer

He also has a number of updates on the status of other teams that have made attempts.

Paul's Robotics is keeping us up to date:

paulsrobotics - Auric and Next Step both moved zero. Top Hat in the box with technical difficulties. Lunar Arc up next...

Top Hat and Lunar Arc also moved zero. Laurentian Rock setting up. Moondiggers A on-deck.
NASA's Doug Comstock has some pictures of the robots:

@doug_comstock - - Some of the robotic excavators in the 2009 regoligh excavation challenge. - More of the robotic excavators at the regolith excavation challenge.

Space Elevator Games Power Beaming/Climber Competition

And now, the movie - The Space Elevator Games (look in the "blog" section for the content specific to this post)

There is cool and then there is Über-cool… - The Space Elevator Blog has more video of the first day of the NSS team's recent qualification tests, including the "reflectivity test", the "climber melt test", and the "optics melt test".

A different sort of climber (NSS - plan B) - The Space Elevator Games - This is the 2nd part of the "plan A" story I linked to yesterday.

Other Prizes

@conradawards - Opportunities for Aerospace Innovation, webinar, David Thompson, Pres of AIAA and CEO of Orbtial, Mon., 10/19, 3pm PDT

MIT takes the wrappers off autonomous, robotic helicopter with intelligent navigation - Engadget

MileHiCon 41 - - October 23-25, Denver - One of the guest authors for this Science Fiction convention is Nancy Kress, and I happen to be reading her Probability Moon at the moment. That follows yesterday's post that included a contest involving Alastair Reynolds' Zima Blue - and I just finished his Revelation Space. It's all just coincidence. The reason this appears on this blog, though, is the Critter Crunch - a robot battle contest.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gathering for Regolith Challenge, More NSS Beam Team Details, Mars Fiction, Meetings, Conferences,and Festivals

Regolith Excavation Challenge

@regolith_chal - Updated event schedule:

@paulsrobotics - At the Hacker Dojo ( in Mountain View, checking out that the robot made the trip safely.

Workin at the awesome Hacker Dojo (thanks
#WPI alum Mike Lundy). Prepping bot for the weekend!

@alias_amanda - Broken free from the bonds of LA gridlock, now swiftly making my way to the Bay Area.

NASA Hosts National Lunar Robotics Moon Excavation Competition - NASA media advisory

NASA ARC Internal Memo: 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge at Ames, Oct. 17 - 18, 2009 - SpaceRef

Google Lunar X PRIZE

@arcaspace - Echipa ARCA s-a intalnit cu jurnalistii in Rm. Valcea si Bucuresti. In aceasta seara va ajunge in Constanta.

@omegaenvoy - Omega Envoy to Hold Open House Meeting in Orlando, Fl.

According to the above link, the open house is on October 28, 8:00am at the University of Central Florida.

@pomerantz - Google Lunar X PRIZE teams has a job posting up on the forum: #GLXP

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

@wikkit - Xoie now has duck tape on it. I knew it was missing something.

Days like this, with WK2 showing off, are ones I'm glad our shop faces away from the flightline. We'd never get anything done.

@jeff_foust - NASA funds the Lunar Lander Challenge prizes and then MSFC goes and builds its own lander testbed:

@mojaverocketguy - @jeff_foust FYI, MSFC is paying Orion Propulsion to build those. One of our previous interns did the testing/debugging of the one linked to

though it is definitely amusing. I wonder how much they've spent on that over the past few years...

QOTD, from IIIan on chat after verifying Xoie's computer was reading pressure sensors correctly: ~~my presssuresss~~ they take it from me

@unrocket - Wk2 with long ez chase flew over the site. Our lunar pad got poured mon, looks nice done by same person as mastens.

Focused on helicopter and pad 2 pad navigation, good results today. Silver on fri, big customer static on sat

Unreasonable Rocket's approach? Do they have any plans beyond NGLLC? - NASA Spaceflight forum question - Jon Goff has an answer.

Space Elevator Games - Beam Power/Climber Competition

A different sort of climber (NSS – plan A) - The 2009 Space Elevator Games

NSS testing at TRUMPF - Day 2 - The Space Elevator Blog

Other Prizes

@progautoxp - If you are in the NYC area on 10/19, stop by the Classic Car Club to check out some of the teams competing in the #PIAXP @algore #PIAXP has some exciting news to announce on 10/19 in NYC. Thanks for your support as we move ahead with the competition.

@peterdiamandis - now in Houston speaking on X Prize and Zero G at the UP Experience Conference

@michaelbelfiore - My report on the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards last night--Dean Kamen, a flying car, and the future of gaming:

The Quantum to Cosmos Festival's live streaming events start today. I'll be on Oct. 22 at 8 ET to talk about robots:

The Quantum to Cosmos Festival post linked above mentions a talk by Peter Diamandis at the festival. Many other interesting speakers are also on the schedule, including at least one Google Lunar X PRIZE Team member.

Piece on Mars submitted to New Scientist magazine’s Flash Fiction Competition - Marooned: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books on Mars

Win a copy of Zima Blue, a new anthology by Alastair Reynolds that has three Mars novelettes - Marooned: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books on Mars

October Competition - Antipodean SF - SF Downside-Up (note: This competition is for Australian readers):

To enter, all you need to do is listen to the audio in the player (below) and tell the editor which movie each quote is from. The last one may be difficult. Hint — the last movie is based on a story by another talented SF writer in the Gollancz stable, Philip K Dick.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Prize Roundup: NSS Beam Team, Updates on Three Big Lunar Prizes, Solar Decathalon, Rockets Art, more

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

@unrocket - Hardware should be fixed by end of Day. Likely going out to Test Tuesday Night.

Vehicle assembled again with stronger brace, the pitch actuator is bent, apart once more, got to go to work for a few hours on day job.

@ngllc09 - Great new post on the @mastenspace blog with pics of the Level 2 landing pad: #ngllc

750-3 Engine Module Development Update - Masten Space Systems

Google Lunar X PRIZE

@omegaenvoy - Very productive day working on the @OE_rover design, everything is looking really good! #GLXP

@OdysseyMoon - CBC's "The Hour" talk show with @Bob_Richards, Odyssey Moon & the Google Lunar X PRIZE @GLXP

@teamfrednet - You can follow the creation of our new #GLXP mission sequence animation on our wiki:

@pomerantz - Next up: Google Lunar X PRIZE team Italia! They will review their specific mission, then I'll cover the rest of the competition. #iac2009

(Will has a number of other tweets on the Team Italia presentations).

@nextgiantleap - Nice mention of NGL at SIS7 by John Hoyt of Near Earth LLC (see pg. 8 of this pdf: ) #GLXP teams are well positioned.

Beam Power/Tether Climber Challenge

@segames - Here at TRUMPF in Plymouth, Michigan with the team from NSS. They're hoping to qualify for the upcoming competition. Setting up now.

... lots of intervening tweets with all of the details ...

NSS has now provisionally qualified to compete in the Games. More details on the Blog later.

NSS Testing at TRUMPF - Day 1 - The Space Elevator Blog has more details on the first steps towards the NSS qualification.

It’s On! - Space Elevator Blog, referring to the 2009 Climber/Power Beaming competition

Up to Four Teams to Compete for $2,000,000 in Space Elevator Games - The Space Elevator Reference

Regolith Excavation Challenge

@regolith_chal - Ah! The exhibit displays from @nasaprize just arrived.

Exciting to get some more inquiries from the media today.

@glxp - .@NLSI We'll be at the @Regolith_Chal this weekend too! 23 teams, looks awesome. Who else will be there?

Energy/Environment Prizes

Secretary Chu on the Department of Energy’s 2009 Solar Decathlon - Office of Science & Technology Policy

Solar Decathlon Brochure Available - Office of Science & Technology Policy

@progautoxp - Stay tuned for exciting #PIAXP news to be announced next week.

@tedprize - TEDsters on Colbert Report this week: Tonight @ShashiTharoor (he'll speak at TEDIndia) tomorrow @tedprize winner Sylvia Earle (via @TEDNews)

Other Prize News

10,000 Rockets art contest - Space for All

More Nobels? ~ Systems Sciences & Applications - Maximizing Progress

Open Innovation on Hyperdrive - Perspectives on Innovation (Innocentive blog)

Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Approaches

A lot of news is appearing about the upcoming 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge:

A preview of the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge... - Green Cheese Solutions, one of the competitors, has a very nice collection of links and videos on the teams that were officially announced recently.

Moon Diggers to Compete in NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge - Astrobotic on the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams Page

UBC Thunderbird Robotics is getting a lot of press coverage, presumably as a result of the unveiling mentioned below:

Moon dust-digging robot made by UBC students to compete in NASA challenge - Yahoo! News Canada

UBC students prep moon-ready robot excavator - CTV British Columbia

UBC engineering students unveil moon dust-shoveling robot before NASA competition - The University of British Columbia

Engineering students build moon dirt digging robot for NASA competition - Vancouver Sun - It sounds like they've gotten a lot of education value out of the competition over the years, with 350 students participating. Domino's Pizza gets credit for major team sponsorship.

LU students developing technology to mine on the moon - Sudbury News

Space Elevator and Lunar Industrialization Conference Set for December - Parabolic Arc - You can find links for the flyers and conference program at the THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SPACE ELEVATOR SYSTEMS page. As in past years the schedule shows lots of good Space Elevator Games content. In addition, Matt Everingham is scheduled to discuss the Regolith Excavation and MoonROx Challenges. Will Pomerantz is slated to discuss the Google Lunar X PRIZE, and one of the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams is also on the schedule.

From twitter:

@paulsrobotics - Packing up the robot today! A couple of strategy runs in the box (no digging).. so exciting! (Broadcasting live at

Robot is packed in the box waiting to ship! Event is this weekend @ NASA Ames. We'll let you know if its webcast! Go WPI! #WPI

@grncheese - Steve continues to improve the bot, while I deal with logistics

At least the driving directions are simple-- get to 1-80, drive 1811 miles, take the Mountain View exit...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Prize Roundup: Masten Achievement, Another Beam Power Qualifier?, Regolith Challenge Closer, More

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

I'm sure everyone knows the news about Masten Space Systems qualifying for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Level 1 2nd place prize. That's a major milestone that certainly deserves a detailed post all by itself - but that's already been done:

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge 2009 Resources - Reports, photos, videos and more - RLV News - This valuable resource covers all of the competition events so far, and I'm sure it will cover the next ones as they happen. There's a section on "Oct. 7, 2009 - Wednesday - Masten Space Systems - Level I Mojave Spaceport" that has all of the details and links on yesterday's achievement.

@wikkit - Harlock posted his really great videos of the flights: The plume looks fantastic with a good camera. - video I shot handheld of the second flight. Kind of dorky, but captures the mood better than tripod video.

The ending of Ben's video after the landing is great.

@mastenspace - RT @Spacevidcast: LIVE tonight: @MMealling talking about #NGLLC & free for all call-ins talking about LCROSS!

Regolith Excavation Challenge

MDI men shoot for the moon dirt - Village Soup has a well-written article about one of this year's Regolith Excavation Challenge teams:

Peter Homer of Southwest Harbor, the 2007 winner of NASA’s Astronaut Glove Challenge, has teamed up with Ben Baxter, owner of Marine Machines in Town Hill, to build a robotic machine to excavate simulated lunar soil for NASA’s 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge. The top prize is $500,000.

@grncheese - Regolith Challenge team roster

MOON DIGGING COMPETITORS LINE UP (PDF) - California Space Authority lists all 23 teams (this is also linked by Green Cheese Solutions above).

@paulsrobotics - just brought a new sponsor on board for the Regolith Excavation Robot - the AIAA of New England! Check out the...

Why haven't we seen pics of your lunar regolith excavator?

15 min into run...

1 foot distance of driving and digging regolith JSC1-A

@regolith_chal - Doing our airborne particulate monitoring today.

Google Lunar X PRIZE

Students Reach For The Moon - UD Student Group, UDart, Develops Rocket Technology, Tests With Fuels Provided By Wright Patterson Air Force Base - Flyer News (University of Dayton Student Newspaper) - This covers UDART, a student club that is working with Google Lunar X PRIZE team LunaTrex.

@openmoon - c-rove´s spoke optimization finished - installation this evening

@OmegaEnvoy - Awesome story on FOX 35 News today on the Omega Envoy Project, have a look: #GLXP

@Team_Selenokhod - The mockup of Selenokhod rover will be unveiled on Moscow State University (MSU) Festival of Science Stay tuned!

Beam Power/Climber Challenge

Another possible contender emerges… - The Space Elevator Blog describes the National Space Society team's upcoming qualification attempt:

Next Monday and Tuesday, October 12th and 13th, the team from NSS will be at the TRUMPF facility in Plymouth, Michigan, testing and validating their Climber and power-control system. Personnel from both Spaceward and NASA-Dryden will be there too, along with yours truly.

And then there were four. Well maybe. - Space Elevator Games

Aviation Prizes

Current List of GFC Teams - CAFE Foundation - I count 30 teams at the moment.

Z-Prize at NCDC “One Mind, One Heart, One Corridor” - Airship Z-Prize

Other Prizes

Cheap Contest Series? - Guest blogger John Hare at Selenian Boondocks is considering a series of "cheap contests" to follow up on the recent one there:

I am looking for real world ways of confirming or busting some of my concepts within my budget. ... I’m looking for feedback on if this series can and should be started.

@nasaprize - Just completed an interview with Bloomberg TV on NASA's involvement in incentive prizes

ESMD Space Grant 2010 Research Paper Competition - NASA Exploration System Mission Directorate - There are 4 $3,500 scholarship prizes for the 4 topics:

Ground Operations
Lunar and Planetary Surface Systems

Monday, October 05, 2009

Prize Roundup: Lasers, Regolith Challenge Approaches, Google Lunar X PRIZE, Student Prizes, More

Beam Power/Climber Competition

LASER '09 - The Space Elevator Blog has some information about a LEGO student competition in Japan with a Space Elevator theme.

@lasermotive - One of the activites today, hanging telescope mirror 15 feet in air from something that looks like field goal posts. Always interesting.

The field goalpost telescope worked reasonably well today. But maybe one day Tom can stop being the high-altitude monkey...

Regolith Excavation Challenge

@paulsrobotics - This what you look like after sifting 1000lbs of rock out of 5000lbs of sand...

Starting a sandbox run with Moonraker. Watch at (Broadcasting live at

@grncheese - The hitch is installed on the minivan, one step closer to hauling BESSie over the Rockies to California

@glxp - Regolith Challenge at Ames!!! Oct. 17 and 18 (via @NLSI)

Google Lunar X PRIZE

@interorbital - Interorbital Signs Launch Deal with Morehead State University and Bob Twiggs!

@omegaenvoy - Take 3 minutes out of your day and go vote for the name of the next robot to go to the moon, it's worth it, I promise!

@soldthemoon - During the G-20 here in Pittsburgh, leaders from China and Australia came by to see our lunar robots:

Student Competitions

@glxp - Do you know a teacher? The Conrad Awards is hosting an "Innovation in the Classroom" webinar 10/6, 3pm PST:

CanSat Arcus (part 1) - YouTube

CanSat Arcus (part 2) - YouTube

NASA Sponsors Student Water Recycling Competition - NASA

Buzz Lightyear returns from space - Space for All - This includes the Buzz Lightyear Mission Patch Design Challenge




Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2847 -- Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (NASA excerpt) - SpaceRef:

... The Administration is concerned with the elimination of $21 million from the request for NASA innovation, which uses public-private partnerships to advance important technologies and enable access to new sources of innovation through incentive prizes and partnerships. ...

A Dozen Lunar Lander Challenge Updates

Here are some recent updates on the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge from RLV News/HobbySpace:

BonNova enters Lunar Lander Challenge competition

Unreasonable update (Testing Again...)

Unreasonable update (Driving Home Again...)

Xombie flies again

Masten Space test flights

Suborbital space transport will produce research bonanza - This isn't about the Challenge itself, but it's relevant to the teams interested in this market.

Unreasonable test report

Unreasonable tests

There's more news from other sources:

In its September 13 2009 post, TrueZer0 offers some criticism of the coverage of this year's Lunar Lander Challenge events.

Suborbital Research - Masten Space Systems comments on the suborbital research article linked on one of the above posts.

@wikkit - The Pauls (of #ngllc team @unrocket) stopped by. We showed our dead chamber, they showed us their dead gear, we all commiserated.

@ngllc09 - Masten's next attempt is in 2 days (10/7). Who's excited? #NGLLC

Ansari X PRIZE Anniversary

Here are some thoughts on the anniversary of the winning of the Ansari X PRIZE:

Two Anniversaries and Our (Private Sector) Future in Space - Pajamas Media (Rand Simberg)

Five years later, is now the time? - The Space Review (Jeff Foust)

WHAT'S NEXT FOR X? - Cosmic Log

Launching Commercial Space Flight: Part Five -- Brian Binnie Makes History - The Huffington Post (Brian Binnie)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Twitter Marathon: October 1-2, 2009

Today it's all about a quick compilation of a stack of tweets with no comments from me (other than this introduction). If you don't know who the tweeter is, just follow the opening link.

@bonnova - RT @NGLLC09: Officially announcing a 4th competitor for #NGLLC. Welcome @BonNovA! Details:

@unrocket - First silver tether flight was stable, climbed too high and was aborted. Will try again late today or early fri.

Pressure sensor intermitant short. Killed a/d inputs hard to find and fix in desert going home back fri nighr

@NGLLC09 - RT @wikkit: We ran another full load through the test stand today, in 5 engine runs. Looking really good on a fix for #ngllc problem.

@tedprize - RT @TEDchris - TED Prize winner Sylvia Earle's spectacular new book, The World Is Blue:

@fineri - Working out an engine start sequence, watching video's of various components moving to sort out the timing......

@ARCAspace - ARCA team visited the Constanta, Venus and Fulgerul ships prior to equipments arrival on board. These ships will... [... be used for the launch of Mission 3. ]

@grncheese - See our lunar regolith excavator in action:

@paulsrobotics - Workin' hard 24/7 on the @W_P_I entry for the @Regolith_Chal. Students, prof, and alum working together towards $500K prize. our test sandbox electronics dust cover rear bump switch

@Regolith_Chal - Had an important milestone meeting today and it was a great success. Thanks to teams, judges, and other contributors to this.

@jmcenanly I heard that Charles Bolden mentioned @regolith_chal in a speach recently. Help us carry the message that prizes are helping.

@glxp - Our newest team is on Twitter: @openmoon

#xprize tweetups now happening on Monday in Houston, Albuquerque, San Francisco, and LA. This calls for a hashtag: #XPTweetup

Just got off a telecon with @mmealling and others to discuss media for #NGLLC next week - Masten plans to fly again in one week.

@Pomerantz - RT @glxp: Announcing 2 events next week to celebrate 5th anniversary of winning Ansari X PRIZE:

@NASAPrize - Lots of ideas for new prize challenges posted at

@ConradAwards - Upcoming webinar 10/06/07- Josh Neubert The Innovation Classroom. Questions encouraged! @ "The exchange" 3:00 PM PT

@Virgin_Galactic - We are working on the format of the SpaceShipTwo unveiling event in December.

@ISPCS - new confirmed: Anousheh Ansari, Space Ambassador CEO, Chairman & Co-founder Prodea Systems, Inc.

SketchUp Building Contest, Innocentive and JSC contract, RASC-AL and Astronaut Glove open, space lit research contest

Links: Building Design Competition, Google Wave - Google Earth Blog - From the blog: Hasbro, the company behind Monopoly City Streets, has just announced a competition to let users design buildings that might appear in the game. Between now and October 6, design your building using Google SketchUp and then upload it to the Google 3D Warehouse. ...

Cheap Contest - John Hare at Selenian Boondocks issued a $100 orbital mechanics literature search contest. So far Bob Steinke of SpeedUp has sent in an attempt at winning the contest.

What Is Open Innovation at JSC? Update - NASA Watch - Here's an excerpt from an update to this post: JSC has made two contract awards: one to Innocentive, Inc. and the other to

NIA and NASA Announce Student Engineering Competition - press release about RASC-AL on SpaceRef: Students can choose one of four themes for their project: a lunar outpost design that will help reduce risk for future human missions to Mars; technology -enabled human Mars mission; novel concepts to engage the general public in human exploration missions; and architecture approaches that provide cost-effective exploration with minimal infrastructure.

Centennial Challenges 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge - Regulation Tracker: The 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge is now scheduled, and teams that wish to compete may now register. ... The 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge is being administered by Volanz Aerospace Inc. for NASA. ... The 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge will be held on November 18-19, 2009. Location: The 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge will be held at United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in Kennedy Space Center, Florida (near the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center).