Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend Twitter Update: X PRIZE Benefit, Prometheus and Kiwi 2 Space Photos, Athena, Conrad Awards Voting Approaches, More

@ad_astra2: Synergy of competitions and innovation featured in today's MIT Entrepreneurship Review: #MITER #xprize

RT @megmurfff: X PRIZE Radical Benefit selling out fast. Get your tix to hang w/ J Cameron, S Brin, L Page, etc ASAP!

@TeamPrometheus: I posted 4 photos on Facebook in the album "First Fire"

I posted 2 photos on Facebook in the album "Finished gimbal Just before assy."

@paulsrobotics: IEEE event at #WPI where we have Moonraker on display

@xprize: Congratulations to XPF Board Member, Erik Lindbergh, for the launch of the Lindbergh Prize!

@ValkyrieFed: Our Facebook page is up!

This is just 1 recent tweet from the Conrad Awards as the voting approaches:

@ConradAwards: Team Rocket is competing in the Space Nutrition category

@jetlab: Space Operations Award Going to Mars Rover Team: The team that operates NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opport...

@Pomerantz: RT @beethakore: Wow! Students compete to design solar power satellite - happy to go back to school for this!!

@whitelabelspace: Swiss Propulsion Laboratory on National Television: This TV story about our parter the Swiss Propulsion Laboratory...

@mastenspace: If you want to intern for @mastenspace this summer you have one week to get your app in - April 4 deadline!

Remember how the Lunar Prospector got launched for this one:

@synergymoon: Another possible launch vehicle for GLXP teams!

@Bob_Richards: Awesome!: ISU Wins Arthur Award at UK Space Conference in International category. (via @ISUnet) #isunet #uksc2010

@fineri: - Injector orrifice drilling today,supprised at how easy it was to drill a 0.6mm hole & not break the bit! - Test stand in shed,attach valves and engine then all go, hopefully......

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Prize Roundup: FAR Results, Electric Aircraft Prizes, UROC contests, more

@alias_amanda: Successful tethered test with @unrocket's Blue vehicle. They are moving to another pad for a higher flight (1200 ft?) - There was an in-flight abort at 100+ ft. Vehicle fell to ground.

@wikkit: Super boring rocket video. I know you're all sick of them. :-)

@mattcannella: - Great Pic our rocket Xombie (@MastenSpace), & the @unrocket blue-ball rocket on the same pad! Bummer day for blu

@ad_astra2: RT @Xconomy Lindbergh Grandson Launches Incentive Prizes for Advances in Electric Aircraft and Green Aviation

Here's an excerpt:

The four LEAP awards, which have yet to be funded, will be awarded annually at the EAA’s annual AirVenture “fly-in,” the popular air show held each July in Oshkosh, WI. ...

Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) - Space for All

I should also mention some items on the CAFE Foundation, another organization with ties to EAA and electric/green aviation:

Eco-Marathon an Echo of the Green Flight Challenge - CAFE Foundation Blog - This relatively new blog has quite a few other posts, too.

The 2010 CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium - CAFE Foundation - The dates are April 23-24.

TeamPrometheus: Gimbal control module! Very simple and effective!

Space Policy Essay Competition - Space for All

NorthWest Entrepreneur Network Panel Features Tom - LaserMotive

WPI By the Numbers - Worcester Polytechnic Institute

New meeting - DeSoto: ESA´s CanSat competition.

January 2010 Meeting Minutes - - The Utah Rocket Club minutes cover Utah TARC entries and the club's Pioneer contest. They will also be involved with NARAM 52 in Pueblo, CO, and hope to help with rocket contests there, too.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FAR Testing, Peter Homer on Space Show, Intel Award, Lunar LaserMotive?, Space Entry in Art Contest, more

Here are a bunch of prize-related tweets from the last few days that caught my attention. Note that the date references in them (like "today") are most likely out of date.

The first batch is about some rocket testing by former Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams. I wouldn't be surprised if they have more tweets throughout the day. One convenient place you can check is the ngllc-teams twitter list.

@glxp: Rockets! Rockets! Rockets! New blog post: #GLXP

@unrocket: Leaving for far eta 1230

At mojave am pm getting gas and fuel for the truck, 45 min to far

New gps ant mount, both lighter and stronger!

Blue Ball is ready, leaving for FAR in 11hrs, time enough to build new non-fragile GPS antenna mount. Off to the metal store....

@wikkit: Headed back out to FAR shortly. Will be camping under the stars guarding my rocket, maybe watch Moon on my laptop under the crescent moon.

@alias_amanda: - Treasure map acquired -- 'X' marks the spot where rockets will be launching tomorrow.

@LaserMotive: In addition to UAVs, we've been having discussions with people interested in powering lunar rovers.

@FLspacereport: Teen Girl Wins $100,000 Intel Science Award with Spaceflight Project.

@LBourgeois1: • View topic - Picorover

@TeamPrometheus: I posted 3 photos on Facebook in the album "Gimbal"

jetlab: JPL Wins 'Green Building Award': JPL's environmentally friendly Flight Projects Center received a "Green Bui...

@PTScientists: @glxp new headcount we now got 40 Part Time Scientists!

@SpaceShow: Peter Homer, President & Founder of FLAGSUIT LLC, is the guest this morning, 9:30-11:30 AM PDT. Listen live at

Note: digitalart is the twitter account for Jim Plaxco:

@digitalart: BLUECANVAS Art Contest and New Art: With A Flourish The folks over at BLUECANVAS Magazine are having an art conte...

dmasten: An interesting view of today's free flight from @wikkit - and ready for free flight. good flight. Prepping for free flight.

Heading out for a couple test flights today.

@arcaspace: Video journal entry 9 Videoclip from Mission 3 about Helen stage 1 being loaded onto 281 Constanta Navy ship.

@progautoxp: RT @PoulsenHybrid: Congrats to the 24 MIT Clean Energy Prize Semifinalist Teams. Who's your favorite?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Baen/NSS Story Contest, Spirit of Innovation Summit, Lindbergh Prize, Space Access '10 Update, Much More

As in past years, Jim Baen's Universe and the National Space Society are teaming up to offer the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest for science fiction stories about near-future manned spaceflight. The grand prize winner will be published in the online magazine and honored at the 2010 International Space Development Conference in Chicago.

More Armadillo picts - RLV News

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #11 - Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration

NASA Systems Engineering Student Competition - Space for All

Conrad Foundation - 2010 Spirit of Innovation Summit - Space for All

Erik Lindbergh to unveil Lindbergh Prize & education program - Space for All

More details have been filled in on the Space Access '10 conference site. Here are some of the presentations from current or former prize teams and sponsors (no doubt I'm overlooking some):

Armadillo Aerospace/John Carmack
Centennial Challenges/Andrew Petro, NASA HQ
Masten Space/Dave Masten
Lasermotive/Jordin Kare
SpeedUp/Bob Steinke
Unreasonable Rocket/Paul Breed

Engineering Design Challenges Brochure - Freebie - Teaching with Contests

Here's the brochure itself: Engineeeering Design CHALLENGES - Hands-on Activities for the Classroom (PDF) - NASA - Several NASA competitions - SLI, TARC, and the Great Moonbuggy Race - are featured in the brochure.

New Suborbital Spaceships Spark Scientific Frenzy - - Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams Armadillo Aerospace and Masten Space Systems are mentioned in this article.

Space available on lunar expeditions - Astrobotic

@paulsrobotics: Dean Kamen is speaking about changing society and the future at the #WPI FIRST Regional. #omgrobots

@InnoCentiveCEO: RT @TheWisdomCrowds: InnoCentive is moving to larger offices And we need it!

@whitelabelspace: Lander Thermal Design and Analysis: The White Label Space engineering team has started the design and analysis of ...

NASA "Game Changer" Commercial Space Innovation Prize at Rice University Business Plan Competition

The 2010 Rice University Business Plan Competition is just around the corner. It's scheduled for April 15-17. In addition to many big prizes in various business areas (often with some sort of high technology emphasis), as in past years, NASA is sponsoring prizes for space-oriented business concepts. Here's a press release from a few weeks ago on the NASA contribution: NASA offers $110,000 in Prizes at 2010 Rice Business Plan Competition. I'll include a few excerpts:

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (Rice Alliance) of Rice University is pleased to announced that NASA’s Johnson Space Center will increase their prize offering with the addition of the $50,000 NASA “Game Changer” Commercial Space Innovation Prize. ... The award will go to the team that is judged to have the best business plan that supports the commercial space market by addressing a need in technology, service or product for the for sub-orbit, Earth orbit, or the moon exploration.

The press release goes on to list a number of possible commerial space business areas in the suborbital, Earth orbit, and exploration categories. It continues:

NASA will continue to offer the two, $20,000, NASA Earth/Space Engineering Innovation Prizes for the best business plans that represent an engineering technology that has applications to both the NASA space program and to Earth-based activities. ... The new “Game Changer Award” brings a dynamic twist with an increased emphasis on commercial applications,” said Brad Burke, managing director, Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. ...

Infernal Mechanisms - Mechanical Engineering, the magazine of ASME - This article gives some mechanical engineering and medical context for the winning entry in last year's Microgravity Research Competition for an experiment on board the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. This contest was part of the 2009 Rice Business Plan Competition.

Future NASA Centennial Challenges Planning

Braun Outlines Technology Plans, Including Reestablishing NIAC - Space Policy

This article includes a link to a presentation, "NASA Innovation
and Technology Preliminary Planning
", by NASA Chief Technologist Dr. Robert Braun. The article and presentation are both interesting as glimpses into NASA's initial general (i.e. not specific to a mission directorate like Exploration) technology plans following the 2011 NASA budget proposal. However, I'll concentrate on one specific part of those plans: NASA's Centennial Challenge prizes. The presentation includes a slide (on page 21) of "Near-Term Actions" to develop more details for NASA's new technology programs. One of the upcoming milestones is the following:

–Centennial Challenges Lunar Exploration Prize: April 26, 2010

No more details are given, but there is also the following on Centennial Challenges:

Solicitation/planning for ongoing programs (SBIR/STTR, Centennial Challenges, Flight Opportunities) proceeding on schedule

On the next page, "Approximate Number of Planned FY11 Space Technology Products", the following is anticipated:

5 New Centennial Challenges

Friday, March 12, 2010

OMB Prize Guidance, National Academies on Suborbital, SXSW, X PRIZE Benefit, More

Guidance on the Use of Challenges and Prizes to Promote Open Government (PDF) - (OMB):

To support agencies in the execution of prizes that further the policy objectives of the Federal Government, the Administration will make available a web-based platform for prizes and challenges within 120 days. This platform will provide a forum for agencies to post problems and invite communities of problem solvers to suggest, collaborate on, and deliver solutions. Over the longer term, the General Services Administration (GSA) will also provide government-wide services to share best practices and assist agencies in developing guidelines for issuing challenges. Additionally, GSA will develop, as expeditiously as possible, a contract vehicle to provide agency access to relevant products and services, including technical assistance in structuring and conducting contests to take maximum benefit of the marketplace as they identify and pursue contest initiatives to further the policy objectives of the Federal Government.

Revitalizing NASA's Suborbital Program: Advancing Science, Driving Innovation, and Developing Workforce - National Academies Press - This includes a chapter on commercial vehicles, as well as a lot of material on traditional suborbital access methods like balloons, sounding rockets, and planes.

Moon 2.0: The Outer Limits of Lunar Exploration - SXSW, Saturday, March 13 at 03:30 PM

02/16/2010: Hybrid Motor Holds Together - SpeedUp

Here are a few tweets I picked from many related in one way or another to prizes over the last few days:

@SpaceFellowship: REXUS 7 and 8 student research rockets launched successfully

@makerfaire: RobotFest/Mid-Atlantic 2010 Mini Maker Faire, April 24th: Gary Mauler and the folks who put on the RobotFest ...

@LaserMotive: We are getting interest in a product we hadn't considered making. It's a prime example of listening to customers for ideas.

@PeterDiamandis: Just announcing major X PRIZE "Benefit" on May 15th -- Cameron, Page, Brin as co-Chairs. Come join!

Here are some of the event details:

Through our live auction, bid to win a trip to space on Virgin Galactic, a 2010 Tesla Roadster, have your personal genome sequenced, lunch with our VIPs and more.

Date: Saturday, May 15, 2010
Location: Lucasfilm, Letterman Arts Center, The Presidio of San Francisco

This gives some more information about what's happening at the X PRIZE Foundation:

X Prize group sets sights on next challenges (Q&A) - CNet News


@ValkyrieFed: We'll do a fundraising event, in Montreal! Maybe in April or May.

@jeff_foust: Garver: NASA very supportive of prizes, talking about potential collab on Google Lunar X Prize, such as making a data purchase.

@bonnova: New high-performance injector in development. First prototype in house today.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

OpenNASA Prize Ideas

OpenNASA invites you to contribute ideas on making NASA more efficient, innovative, and open within the agency and to the outside world. You can discuss and vote on other contributors' ideas, too. Some of the ideas there feature prizes or competitions of one sort or another. Here are a few examples:

Create a Science Data API Challenge

Junior Astronaut Corps - Allow students to compete for 25 coveted slots in the Junior Astronaut Corps -- using much of the same criteria (but age-appropriate) as we use to select astronauts. ...

Millennial Challenges ... Centennial Challenges on Steroids

Step-by-step prizes for Flexible Path goals

Incentive awards 4 creative thinking (new participatory office)

Weekend Roundup Part 2 - The Non-Twitter Side

Stephen Hawking to Accept Cosmos Award in Cambridge, England - The Planetary Society - Note that the award presentation was a week ago (the linked press release is from February 24).

Greetings From Space Up in Sunny San Diego! - The Planetary Society reviews the unconference, including photos of people and hardware from Unreasonable Rocket and Masten Space Systems.

Masten Space Systems Update - - Jon from Masten links to another picture from the unconference in this discussion.

Let's put robots AND humans in space - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Astrobotic's David Gump considers NASA's new budget proposal. Much of the debate over this budget concerns a controversy over whether NASA should use its own systems, commercial systems, or both to give NASA astronauts access to space. This article focuses on a less-debated, but essential, part of the new plan that goes beyond the old astronauts-vs-robotics debate: a new line of robotic astronaut precursor missions to do things like travel to the Moon's surface and demonstrate production of rocket propellant from lunar ice.

NASA Wants to Fund Centennial Challenges at $10 Million Per Year - Parabolic Arc

Bankrupt Sea Launch Gets More Financing – Heinlein Prize Trust Involved - Parabolic Arc

Centennial Challenges gathering… - The Space Elevator Blog

“One of the problems we had last year was wind-induced oscillation…” - The Space Elevator Blog points to some video clips from Bitter Jester Creative, Inc.

Announcing the Artsutanov and Pearson awards - The Space Elevator Blog

Marshall hosts the 2010 Great Moonbuggy Race - Lunar Networks

Ted Southern - Eyebeam Art + Technology Center

You can see more photos of Ted's astronaut glove at his Glove & Hands page. From there you can also get to his other projects.

A wry report on regolith removal - RLV News

Explore Mars, Inc. opens - Space for All:

... We are pleased to announce the formation of Explore Mars, Inc. ( ... In the first half of 2010, Explore Mars will launch a series of technology development challenges relating to Mars exploration, with prizes ranging from $10,000 - $100,000. ... the first of these challenges will focus on in situ resource utilization - technologies that will allows us to "live off the land" on other planets. ... collaborating with Aerojet and NASA's Spaceward Bound, we will be creating the Mars Education Challenge that will challenge educators to design new and innovative Mars curriculum. ... Explore Mars plans to announce details of at least two prizes in the first half of 2010. The Explore Mars team includes individuals such as Apollo 11 Astronaut, Buzz Aldrin; NASA Planetary scientist, Dr. Chris McKay; Space historian, Andy Chaikin; former Biosphere 2 director of science and research, Bruno D.V. Marino; and many others.

Aero Club of Atlanta presents Epps Award -

... Huffman has inspired students who later become astronauts, including two students from Henderson High School, the only known school in the world to graduate two NASA astronauts. ... She is the founder of the SEMAA (NASA’s Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy) LINKS Engineering team and sponsored the Wild Blue Wonders Team America Rocketry Challenge. ...

The latest NewSpace News links to an article by Peter Diamandis, Beam Power team LaserMotive, and information about the 2010 Space Access conference that includes numerous space prize teams.

Johns Hopkins Engineering - Winter 2010 - One of the features in this article is on the JHU Robotics Team. The team participates in the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle competition and the International Aerial Robotics competition.

Working on Blue and.... - Unreasonable Rocket

Volanz Aerospace Thanks Secor Strategies - Secor Strategies

Weekend Twitter Space Prize Roundup

Here's a stack of tweets I gathered over the last week or so, interspersed with a few comments.

@InnoCentiveCEO: NEw $20K NASA Challenge: Coordination of Sensor Swarms for Extraterrestrial Research Very cool!

The deadline on that new NASA InnoCentive competition is April 26. From the challenge overview:

... but a much more revolutionary idea is the concept of Sensor Swarming, where the swarm itself exhibits ’emergent behavior’ or ’intelligence’. This Challenge asks solvers to develop and simulate a high performing sensor swarm coordinate protocol.

Check InnoCentive's NASA Innovation Pavilion to keep up to date on all of their NASA challenges.

InnoCentive has many other innovation competitions. Here's one:

@InnoCentiveCEO: New $100K Competition: Predictive Data Analysis Teams Eligible!

@jetlab: Watch Students Compete Using Lego Robotics: Watch school teams test their software-enabled Lego robots via a...

This is on the Southern California NASA Explorer Schools Robotics Competition, part of FIRST. The competition will be held on Tuesday at JPL.

@glxp: Anousheh Ansari's new memoir, "My Dream of Stars", is now available on Amazon:

Here's a look back at the NASA Centennial Challenge recognition ceremony:

@Doug_Comstock: Check out images of all winning teams and allied organizations from last week's CC recognition event.

... and here's a 3-tweets-for-one collection from the winner of the 2009 Beam Power Centennial Challenge, showing that they're looking into business applications for their technology:

@LaserMotive: Tom is heading to San Diego today for a UAV conference. Power beaming could enable 'eternal' UAVs.

Here's the UAV conference website:

Day one of the UAV conference went well. Tom spoke to a number of people about power beaming for UAVs, and they were very interested.

The neXt PRIZE blog has been active lately. This brings our attention to the most recent post there:

@Pomerantz: A new blog post my from colleagues in Prize Development: "PRIZE Development - Where It All Begins..." #XPRIZE

The post compares the X PRIZEs to X CHALLENGEs:

... An X CHALLENGE, on the other hand, is a prize of up to $2.5M, awarded for solving a well-defined technical problem that has no clear path to a solution or is perceived as difficult. Unlike an X PRIZE, which seeks to stimulate or catalyze an entire market (including the social and regulatory aspects of that market), an X CHALLENGE seeks to produce a breakthrough technological or behavioral solution to a specific market need.

I'm sure most of you have seen this news:

@Odyssey_Moon: Odyssey_Moon Chief Scientist Paul Spudis says >1.3 trillion lbs of water at Moon's north pole @GLXP

The mass isn't the only consideration. Here's a comment from Dr. Spudis at NASA Watch:

The ice we're seeing is nearly pure and is located within the interiors of craters with diameters of 2-15 km. It's at least a couple meters thick, with maybe 50 cm of dry regolith on top of it.

To a mining engineer, it's almost the perfect ore body.

Dr. Spudis gives more details here: Ice at the north pole of the Moon - The Once and Future Moon (Air and Space Smithsonian Magazine)

Here are some updates from a couple of N Prize teams (Team Prometheus is also participating with Team FREDNET in the Google Lunar X PRIZE):

@TeamPrometheus: We have aquired a 24' Box Truck for Missiom Control.

@ValkyrieFed: We will be at the Montreal Twestival, March 25th, at the Bain Mathieu!

The next few tweets show what some of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge teams are doing after the competition:

@unrocket: Have to build new tethers and cat pack, then fly blue ball again. Hoped to be ready for FAR on the 6th, now thinking 20th, taking my time.

@glxp: - The @unrocket folks are here with Blue! Here is the venue #spaceup

This video made me think that maybe Masten Space Systems should have taken the name of one of their NG-LLC competitors, SpeedUp:

@wikkit: Two hours of work in two minutes: taking apart #ngllc winning rocket Xoie in December:

@wikkit: The sexy aeroshell design I came up with didn't survive today's analysis. This whole having an atomsphere thing, it's tricky.

The link in the following tweet is to a COSMIC LOG article, "Inventors take the prize", that covers the Lemelson-MIT Collegiate Student Prize Program:

@Pomerantz: I'm partial to incentive prizes, but the other kind work well, too! (via @b0yle)

@Eurospaceward: Abstracts due May 15 for the newly announced Pearson and Artsutanov SE Prizes, paper deadline July 1, 2010. Contest details:

Here are more details from the ISEC Prizes page:

ISEC has created these prizes to foster research about topics related to building a Space Elevator. ... The Pearson Prize is open to all college undergraduate students currently enrolled in a two or four year undergraduate curriculum. Papers submitted for the Pearson prize must have a specific theme as its topic. For 2010, this theme is "Space Debris Mitigation". ... The Artsutanov prize is open to all entrants and papers can be on any space-elevator related subject.

The winner of the Pearson Prize will win a cash award of $1,500 while the winner of the Artsutanov Prize will win a cash award of $2,500. In addition, the winners (one per paper in case of multiple authors of a single paper) will be invited to the 2010 Space Elevator Conference to present their papers and to receive their award. ISEC will reimburse the winner's travel and hotel expenses ...