Friday, February 26, 2010

Honoring Centennial Challenges Winners

Today is day 2 of the NASA Centennial Challenges technical symposium and recognition ceremony. Day 2 is the recognition ceremony. Here are some ways to keep up to date on the tweets and other news from the events:

From the Centennial Challenges page:

Centennial Challenges 2009 Prizewinners Recognition Ceremony
Feb. 26, 2010, 10 am to 11 am
NASA TV will broadcast the ceremony.

Here are a couple tweets from NASA's Doug Comstock that point you to a lot of the information.

@Doug_Comstock: Follow twittering NASA Prize-Winners here: Any other prize winners twittering?

After posting this I noticed that the above link only worked for me when I was logged in to twitter, so you could also try this: Doug Comstock's NASA Prize Winners Twitter List.

@Doug_Comstock: Transcript from today's technical symposium on NASA's six current Centennial Challenges is at #nasacc

Centennial Challenges, power beaming and DPAL - RLV News

This link is another way to check the twitter updates: NASACC meeting twitter hashtag

Panoramio and Hubble Photo Contests, Prize Winners Speak Out, Ames Software Award, More

Every now and then I like to include winning and runner-up images from the monthly Panoramio photo contests that strike me as having an "other-wordly" appearance or mood, but I haven't done that in a while. This one is from the December 2009 contest. All of the winners are geotagged, so if you follow that link you can see where they were taken using satellite imagery through Google Maps and Google Earth. The collection the photo above is from includes another geotagged photo, called Spectacular Tree, where a tree seems to be reaching out to grasp the Moon.

Here's a tweet from one Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenger about another one:

@mojaverocketguy: John Carmack says it better than I can (about the proposed NASA budget/direction):

NASA Ames wins a space prize for the NASA World Wind digital globe software used for Earth and other planets:

@NASA_Ames: [News] Ames Wins 2009 NASA Software of the Year Award

Here are 3 separate and interesting Innocentive tweets:

@InnoCentiveCEO: Couple days left to exercise your creativity for NASA: $20K prize for Compact Aerobic and Resistive Exercise Device

Software meets biology. $30K competition for designing software to create plant-based molecular ontology.

"Cool" new InnoCentive competition: 50K for Flexible Light Weight High Temperature Fire Partition

The American Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams - Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration

Check the NSS link on this one for the winning Hubble images:

@nss: So many wonderful Hubble images submitted..Its hard to choice but we have decided to award 5 lucky winners. #Hubble3D

To the Moon? I think not, Alice…. - True/Slant - Miles O'Brien -Part of his Congressional testimony mentions a well-known space prize:

And when it comes to human beings in space, there is insatiable interest in the effort to open space up to the rest of us. I will never forget the thrill I had covering SpaceShipOne as it captured the X-Prize in Mojave in October of 2004. The excitement in the air was palpable – for a flight that went about as high as Alan Shepard went on May of 1961.

But this time it was one of us.

Space Access'10 update - RLV News has the latest Space Access '10 update, with more presenters with prize connections. Lots of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams will be represented.

Apollo 13 - 40th Anniversary Essay Contest - Space for All

LaserMotive To Be Honored at NASA Ceremony - BusinessWire

Monday, February 22, 2010

2011 NASA Budget Proposal

There are many significant changes in the 2011 NASA budget proposal that are clarified in the detailed Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Estimates (PDF) for NASA. Instead of trying to cover all of it, I'll just point out a couple items related to prizes. First, there's the NASA Centennial Challenges prize program. The budget proposes $10M for new Centennial Challenges prizes in each year from 2011-2015. For several years, Administration budget proposals requested $4M for Centennial Challenges, but Congress didn't appropriate this money most of those years, so the program has been running off of funding from years ago. With many of the original prizes now won, it seems like it's make-or-break time for Centennial Challenges.

Google Lunar X PRIZE teams may want be aware of the robotic human spaceflight precursor program in the new budget. In addition to NASA's robotic lunar science missions in development and under consideration for development, a whole new line of potential robotic missions, following the example of LRO and LCROSS, is proposed in the new budget. Here are some excerpts:

NASA will begin funding at least two dedicated precursor missions in 2011. One will likely be a lunar mission to demonstrate tele-operation capability from Earth and potentially from the International Space Station, including the ability to transmit near-live video to Earth. This will also result in investigations for validating the availability of resources for extraction. NASA will provide opportunities to participate in the payloads and observation teams, and potentially portions of the spacecraft, through open competition.

NASA will also select at least one additional robotic precursor mission to initiate in 2011, and identify potential future missions to begin in 2012 and/or 2013. Potential missions may include:

Landing on asteroids or the moons of Mars ...

Landing a facility to test processing technologies for transforming lunar or asteroid materials for fuel ...

Additionally, a new portfolio of explorer scouts will execute small, rapid turn-around, highly competitive missions to exploration destinations. Generally budgeted at between $100M and $200M lifecycle cost, these missions will allow NASA to test new and innovative ways of doing robotic exploration of destinations of interest to future human exploration. Selected projects may provide multiple small scouting spacecraft to investigate multiple possible landing sites, or provide means of rapid-prototyping new spacecraft approaches. These missions will be fully and openly competed in a Principal Investigator mode.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Centennial Challenges Ceremony, Lots of Masten Activity, LaserMotive Expands, Much More

Centennial Challenges technical symposium and recognition ceremony - RLV News - They are in Washington DC on February 25-26. Here's the technical symposium agenda.

Winning mission patch for the last Shuttle mission - Space for All

Last Chance to Enter Kids’ Science Challenge! - Space for All

Masten Space Xombie highlights video - RLV News

21st Century Space Operations: Challenges and Opportunities - MIT Entreprise Forum - Central Coast - This was on February 17, and on e of the speakers was Dave Masten.

Tom and Dave go full-time - LaserMotive:

Although the focus for Team LaserMotive is on the 2010 Level 2 prize in the Power Beaming Challenge (scheduled for May), LaserMotive, LLC, has its eye on the future applications of power beaming.

For example, LaserMotive is already working to develop ways of recharging unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the “drones” used by the military. The majority of drones that are lost are lost during takeoff and landing for refueling.

Rocket Racing League Announces "Inaugural Show" - AVweb

Moon dreams - The Economist - This discusses private space plans, including Space Adventures, Bigelow, and the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams:

Now, though, the private sector is arguing that the new spending plan actually makes it more likely America will return to the moon. ...

If the United States is to return to the moon, it needs to do so in a way that is demonstrably superior to the first trip—for example, being led by business rather than government. Engaging in another government-driven spending battle, this time with the Chinese, will do nothing more than show that America has missed the point.

Humobots in space - COSMIC LOG - The Google Lunar X PRIZE is featured in this discussion of lunar robotics.

CanSat teachers attend introductory workshop - ESA

Masten Space provides flight to New Mexico student team - RLV News - From Masten's press release:

Masten Space Systems announced that it is offering the winner of the Next-generation Suborbital Research Conference 2010 Student Suborbital Experiment Competition a free zero gravity flight. The winning proposal was New Mexico State University’s “Experimental Validation of a Robotics-Based Inertial Property Identification Algorithm for Orbiting Spacecraft.”

Here are some twitter updates:

@paulsrobotics: working late preparing some robots for Motorama this weekend! (Broadcasting live at

@Doug_Comstock: Check out the NASA Pavilion at Innocentive where you can help NASA solve 3 important challenges. Visit

@LaserMotive: Press release on LaserMotive expansion and personnel additions:

@csf_spaceflight: CSF Welcomes Historic NASA Commitment of $75 Million for Commercial Suborbital Flights and Payloads: #NSRC

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Sound Approach

Jon Goff of Masten Space Systems talks about Masten's flexible plans, and how a similar approach might apply at NASA, in a discussion.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Prize Roundup: Suborbital Science Conference, GLXP Updates, Dutch CanSat, Beam Teams, Moon Trails, More

@glxp: We have a new addition to the #GLXP team and today is officially her 1st day! Super excited to introduce her to all of you.

@NextGiantLeap: New direct link to our facebook page: #GLXP

@PTScientists: - R2 of our Rover will feature many improvements

@Suborbi_Science: Some significant announcements expected at NSRC this week! Stay tuned, or better, come & hear the news 1st hand.

Will any of these announcements be related to Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams? Ansari X PRIZE follow-on businesses? Student competitions? Maybe and maybe not, but you can could on there being a lot of presentations there related to prizes and prize teams - the conference program (PDF) already shows that.

@EarthPic: Earth Science Picture of the Day: Moon Trails

May the Google Lunar X PRIZE teams blaze some Moon Trails of their own soon.

CanSat competition - Thomas's Blog - This blog post links to the site for one of the teams competing in the Dutch CanSat competition.

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #10 - Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration

Briefs: The budget wall; Lobbying for tech competition funding - RLV News

Here are a few news items on the Space Elevator Games climber/power beaming competition:

More from the KC Space Pirates… - The Space Elevator Blog

Welcome LaserMotive’s New Blogger! - LaserMotive

The Otis Diet - LaserMotive

On the automotive prize front:

Start your X Prize engines - COSMIC LOG

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Numerous Google Lunar X PRIZE Updates, More

@paulsrobotics Saturday night, perfect time to machine robot parts!

@glxp Fun visit with @Bob_Richards of @Odyssey_Moon this morning at the #xprize office:

@PTScientists - yesterday we were in geek heaven. no pictures from the inside tho.

Harvard-Based Crowdsource Project Seeks New Diabetes Answers — & Questions - Wired

Moon Exploration is Not Dead - Space Travel - Exploration and Tourism

@ikluft: Space Access Conference Apr 8-10 in Phoenix, info update posted at #newspace

@JUXTOPIA_JURBAN NSBE Space partners with JURBAN Team for the Goolge Lunar X PRIZE.

@LunaCI This week's Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup is a juicy one! Ton of interesting news. #GLXP

@synergymoon Team SYNERGY MOON will be at the San Diego Science Festival Expo Day, March 27th, 2010!

@Odyssey_Moon Historic NASA funding announcement coincided with a Google Lunar X PRIZE Team Summit @NASAJPL #GLXP

New Space Policy, ISEC Plans, TARC and UKAYRoC News, Grand Challenges, NewSpace 2010

Robotics experts gather at CMU to discuss automation - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

NASA Budget Proposal Will Fuel Innovation and Investments in Game Changing Technology - Earth Times presents an X PRIZE Foundation press release

NASA Embraces American Capitalism and Entrepreneurship - The Huffington Post, written by Peter Diamandis

Grand Challenges of the 21st Century - OSTP Blog, written by Tom Kalil:

Today, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council are releasing a “request for information” that is designed to collect input from the public ...

Incentive prizes are mentioned in the RFI.

Save the Date: NewSpace 2010 Conference - Space Frontier Foundation:

... Programming and networking receptions will cover pressing topics, including the utilization of suborbital vehicles, development of fuel depots, optimization of space prizes, technology pathways to profitable space solar power, and the financial benefits of a thriving presence in space. ...

Team America Rocketry Challenge is packed for 2010 - Space for All

Raytheon Supports Young Rocketeers in 2010 TARC Challenge - Space Fellowship

UKRA withdraws support of UK TARC counterpart UKAYRoC - Rocketry Planet

Space Debris Mitigation - Space Elevator Blog

@fineri - - Water testing....

Monday, February 01, 2010

Prizes in the 2011 NASA Budget Proposal

From the FY 2011 NASA budget overview slide presentation, page 13 (on "Space Technology"):

Involves a broad array of participants including academic, commercial and international partnerships and incorporates the current Innovative Partnerships Program (including the Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Research programs.) ...

Uses prizes and other innovative research funding mechanisms, in addition to grants and other more traditional funding mechanisms.

A Break

I'm still here, but I'm swamped with computer issues, cat health issues, another blog, and more for now.