NASA Administrator Charles Bolden had some very nice things to say about commercial space companies and NASA’s Centennial Challenges during an address today before the National Association of Investment Companies in Washington, DC. Below are some relevant excerpts, followed by the full text of Bolden’s address.
By the end of this week, we expect to receive the final report of the Augustine committee and I will join with the Presidentâ€™s science advisor, Dr. John Holdren and other principals from the Executive Office of the President in developing a recommendation for the President to assist him in determining his vision for the future of human space flight and space exploration in America. Whatever the Presidentâ€™s decision, America needs NASA and private industry to work to achieve our national goals in space. This means that NASA must determine efficient and effective ways to leverage the power, and innovation of American industry and the American entrepreneur.
MOUNTAIN VIEW â€“ Nineteen teams pushed their robotic competitors to the limit and three teams claimed a total of $750,000 in NASA prizes for their hard work and innovation at this year’s Regolith Excavation Challenge held at NASA’s Ames Research Center on Moffett Field.
After two days of intense competitive drama, organizers conferred Paulâ€™s Robotics of Worcester, MA, with the first place title, second went to Terra Engineering of Gardena, CA, and Team Braundo of Rancho Palos Verde, CA, took home third.
Terra Engineering’s rover dumps a load of regolith into the collection box.
Terra Engineering has lept into second place in the Lunar Excavation Challenge, guaranteeing that this year’s $750,000 prize purse will be full claimed.
The team’s rover collected an unofficial total 270.6 kilograms of simulated lunar soil. This lept the Gardena, California-based team ahead of Braundo Rancho, whose rover collected 263.75 kilograms earlier on Sunday. Paulâ€™s Robotics of Worcester, Massachusetts continues to lead with 439 kilograms.
The first place finisher will claim $500,000 with the second and third place teams claiming $150,000 and $100,000, respectively. To qualify for prizes, teams had to excavate at least 150 kilograms of regolith.
One team – Moon Diggers B of San Francisco, California – remains to compete.
The E-Rex rover collects simulated lunar soil during the Regolith Excavation Challenge. The vehicle dumped 75 kilograms into the container, half of what was required to qualify for a prize. It collected more soil before it got stuck and the 30-minute collection period ran out. The team will return to Little Rock, Arkansas without any prize money.
A second team, Paul’s Robotics of Worcester, Mass., has qualified for prize money in the Regolith Excavation Challenge. The team from Worchester Polytechnic Institute excavated 439 kilograms of simulated soil, which puts it in the lead for a $500,000 cash prize from NASA. The second place team will received $150,000, with $100,000 going to the third place team.
There was some controversy over whether the robot had excavated soil outside the assigned area; however, the judges looked at the markings in the test bed and confirmed that there was no problem with the effort.
Tension remains high as teams competing in the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge await the final round tomorrow. By the end of todayâ€™s activities, half of the 20 teams scheduled to compete had completed their turn in the simulated moon dirt, or regolith. The competition will continue tomorrow.
The 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge will be held on Oct. 17-18 at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. The $750,000 prize challenge is a nationwide competition that focuses on developing improved handling technologies for moon dirt, known as lunar regolith.
A robot designed by UBC students will be shoveling moon dust at an international robotics competition next week, vying for a $500,000 prize and the opportunity to contribute to NASAâ€™s future space exploration projects.
A record number of entrants have signed up to compete in the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge and its whopping $750,000 prize money. Twenty-three teams have fulfilled the application requirements to compete in the October 17 and 18 event at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field in Mountain View.
The 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge, originally set for the weekend of August 15, 2009, has been moved to October 17-18, 2009.
“One advantage of moving the competition date is that we now expect to make our sandbox available for testing prior to the competition date, something that has been requested for years,” a note on the website states.
Draft rules for the Lunar Regolith Challenge have been posted. Details are available on California Space Authority blog:
This document was prepared with input from NASA ISRU stakeholders, past competitors and other stakeholders.Â Among our goals is to make the rules as â€œuser friendlyâ€ as possible, meaning that we hope they are easy to understand, clearly define the goal of the competition, and only push meaningful requirements to the teams so that the solution space is as large as possible while still driving solutions that are useful to NASA.