Registration Opens for NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge

NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., are seeking teams to compete in a robot technology demonstration competition with a potential $1.5 million prize.

During the Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA’s capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation’s robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth.


NASA Seeks Sponsoring Organizations for Centennial Challenges

NASA IPP Solicitation — Through this Opportunity Notice (NOTICE),  to support prize competitions conducted under Centennial Challenges program ( ) of NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Challenges are:

  • Strong Tether Challenge
  • Power Beaming Challenge
  • Green Flight Challenge
  • Sample Return Robot Challenge
  • Night Rover Challenge
  • Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge.

Read the full solicitation.

NASA Wants Partner for Nano-Satellite Launcher Competition

NASA is seeking an organization to run the Nano-Satellite Launcher prize competition that it is holding under the Centennial Challenges Program.

NASA provides the monetary prize purse (which can be supplemented by outside organizations) but no funding for the conduct of the competition itself. Allied Organizations must administer the Challenges with their own funding or they must acquire the funding needed to administer the Challenges through agreements with sponsoring organizations or through other means.

Allied Organizations are responsible for the following elements as they relate to individual Challenges:

  • Challenge Planning
  • Sponsor Recruitment
  • Competitor Recruitment
  • Challenge Administration and Execution
  • Challenge Publicity.

For more informati0n, click here.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute to Manage NASA’s Sample Return Robot Challenge


NASA has signed an agreement with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) of Worcester, Mass., to manage the Sample Return Robot Challenge, one of the agency’s new Centennial Challenges prize competitions.

The challenge will demonstrate how a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from varied terrain without human control. This challenge has a prize purse of $1.5 million. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies.


U.S. Government Crowd Sources Challenges With New Website

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

“Continuing our pioneering leadership in prize competitions, NASA recently inaugurated an employee challenge, NASA@Work, a collaborative problem-solving program that will connect the collective knowledge of experts from all areas of NASA using a private web-based platform for NASA ‘challenge owners’ to pose challenges to internal “solvers.’ The solvers who deliver the best innovative ideas will receive a NASA Innovation Award.

“Today, the administration has announced a new online platform that empowers the federal government to bring the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing problems. On, entrepreneurs, leading innovators and citizen solvers can compete for prizes by providing novel solutions to tough problems and, at the same time, take pride in engaging with their government to advance national priorities.” (more…)

NASA on Prizes: We Like Them!


NASA’s pioneering use of prize competitions and innovation challenges is a dramatic departure from government’s traditional “business as usual.”

The agency’s innovation and technology challenges include prizes that encourage independent teams to race to achieve bold goals — without any upfront government funding. NASA benefits from private sector investments many times greater than the cash value of prizes, and the agency only pays for results.


NASA Seeks Partners for Centennial Challenges


NASA is seeking Allied Organizations as partners to manage each of its new Centennial Challenges announced on July 13.

  • The Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge: to place a small satellite into Earth orbit, twice in one week. The prize purse is $2 million.
  • Night Rover Challenge: to demonstrate a solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate in darkness using its own stored energy. The prize purse is $1.5 million.
  • Sample Return Robot Challenge: to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The prize purse is $1.5 million.

Allied Organizations must be non-profit organizations and they will be competitively selected based on proposals. Letters of Intent are requested by August 9, 2010 and proposals are due on September 13, 2010. Instructions for submitting proposals and other information are contained in the Announcement of Partnership Opportunities that is available at FedBizOps→ . Companies, corporations, and other organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring an Allied Organization for on-going or new competitions should respond to the Request for Information (link below):

View Request for Information

NASA Seeks Sponsors for Centennial Challenges


NASA is seeking private and corporate sponsors for the Centennial Challenges, a program of incentive prizes designed for the “citizen inventor” that generates creative solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. NASA is looking for companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring the non-profit allied organizations that manage the prize competitions.


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

Continuing our look at NASA’s proposed 2011 budget, we see that the space agency is proposing to spent $10 million per year through 2015 on its Centennial Challenges program.

In selecting topics for prize competitions, NASA consults widely within and outside of the Federal Government. The $10 million per year FY 2011 request for Centennial Challenges will allow NASA to pursue new and more ambitious prize competitions. Topics for future challenges that are under consideration include revolutionary energy storage systems, solar and other renewable energy technologies, laser communications, demonstrating near-Earth object survey and deflection strategies, innovative approaches to improving the safety and efficiency of aviation systems including Next Generation Aeronautics efforts, closed-loop life support and other resource recycling techniques, and low-cost access to space. Annual funding for Centennial Challenges allows new prizes to be announced, addressing additional technology challenges that can benefit from the innovation of the Citizen inventor.


NASA, FAA Fund Commercial Space Initiatives



December 22, 2009

NASA’s Centennial Challenges prize program, FAA’s Spaceports Infrastructure Grants initiative, and the new NASA Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research program (CRuSR) gained momentum after receiving funding in the NASA and FAA appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2010, passed by Congress and signed by the President last week. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation conducted advocacy efforts for these NASA and FAA programs as part of the CSF’s legislative agenda for this year:

NASA Centennial Challenges in Line for Another $4.5 Million

Will Pomerantz reports that NASA’s Centennial Challenges program is in line for another $4.5 million in funding under a bill reported out of Congress this week.

This is a good thing because the agency has given out nearly all the money it had for the existing challenges, including the ones for regolith excavation, lunar lander, power beaming and astronaut glove. NASA recently solicited ideas for new challenges.

Two Winners in Astronaut Glove Challenge

It seems that we have two winners in NASA’s Astronaut Glove Challenge, one of the space agency’s Centennial Challenges:

RT Doug_Comstock: Peter Homer wins $250k 1st prize and Ted Southern wins $100k 2nd prize in Astro Glove Challenge. Congrats to both for a great competition!

More details later.

NASA Astronaut Glove Challenge Set for Next Week


The 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge will be held on Nov. 19 at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Fla., near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The $400,000 prize challenge is a nationwide competition that focuses on developing improved pressure suit gloves for astronauts to use while working in the vacuum of space. The competition is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. EST on Nov. 19 and conclude with an award ceremony at approximately 5 p.m.