Centennial Challenges

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NASA's Centennial Challenges are designed to promote technical innovation through a novel program of prize competitions. The program is designed to tap the nation's and world's ingenuity to make revolutionary advances to support the NASA Vision for Space Exploration. On March 23, 2005 NASA announced the first Centennial Challenges. These challenges are mananged by the Spaceward Foundation with prizes totaling $400,000 for the Tether Challenge and the Beam Power Challenge.

Specific Centennial Challenges

  • The Tether Challenge centers on the creation of a material that combines light weight and incredible strength. Under this challenge, teams will develop high strength materials that will be stretched in a head-to-head competition to see which tether is strongest.
  • The Beam Power Challenge centers on the development of wireless power technologies for a wide range of exploration purposes, such as lunar exploration. In this challenge, teams will develop wireless power transmission systems, including both transmitters and receivers. This power will be used to power robotic climbers to lift the greatest weight possible to the top of a 50-meter cable in under three minutes.
  • The Regolith Excavation Challenge is to promote the development of new technologies to excavate lunar regolith. Excavation, of lunar soils, is a necessary step towards lunar resource utilization. The unique physical properties of lunar regolith, like abrasiveness, make excavation a difficult technical challenge.
  • The Moon Regolith Oxygen Challenge (MoonROx) centers on creating oxygen from an artificial lunar soil. The competition will reward US$250,000 for a system capable of extracting 2.5 kilograms of oxygen from 100 kilograms of artificial lunar regolith in 4 hours or less. [1]
  • The Astronaut Glove Challenge centers on making a better glove for use in space. The competition will reward US$250,000, for 2007, to the team which designs and constructs the best-performing astronaut glove. Awards for 2008 total $350,000, awards for 2009 total $400,000.
  • The Lunar Lander Challenge centers on demonstrating the ability to takeoff and land vertically with launch energies equivalent to those be needed for a lunar lander.

Current Centennial Challenges

The current (as of October 12, 2007) NASA Centennial Challenges are: [2]

Challenge Date Challenge Name Purse Allied Organization
Oct 13-21, 2007 2007 Beam Power Challenge $500K The Spaceward Foundation
Oct 13-21, 2007 2007 Tether Challenge $500K The Spaceward Foundation
Oct 26-28, 2007 Lunar Lander Challenge $2M The X PRIZE Foundation
2008 (Date TBD) 2008 Astronaut Glove Challenge $400K Volanz Aerospace Inc/Spaceflight America
2008 (Date TBD) 2008 Regolith Excavation Challenge $750K California Space Education & Workforce Institute (CSEWI)
2008 (Date TBD) 2008 Personal Air Vehicle Challenge $300K Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation
Expires Jun 1, 2008 Moon Regolith Oxygen Challenge (MoonROx) $1M California Space Education & Workforce Institute (CSEWI)

Past Challenges

The current (as of October 12, 2007) NASA Centennial Challenges are: [3]

Challenge Date Challenge Name WinmerPurse Allied Organization
Oct 21-23, 2005 2005 Beam Power Challenge None/$50K purse combined with 2006 The Spaceward Foundation
Oct 21-23, 2005 2005 Tether Challenge None/$50K purse combined with 2006 The Spaceward Foundation
Oct 20-21, 2006 2006 Beam Power Challenge None/$200K The Spaceward Foundation
Oct 20-21, 2006 2006 Tether Challenge None/$200K The Spaceward Foundation
Oct 20-21, 2006 Lunar Lander Challenge None/$2M The X PRIZE Foundation
May 2-3, 2007 2007 Astronaut Glove Challenge Peter Homer/$200K Volanz Aerospace Inc./Spaceflight America
May 11-12, 2007 2007 Regolith Excavation Challenge None/$250K California Space Education & Workforce Institute (CSEWI)
Aug 4-11, 2007 2007 Personal Air Vehicle Challenge Vance Turner/$100K Vantage Prize, Dave and Diane Anders/$50K Noise Prize, John Rehn/$25K Handling Qualities, Vance Turner/$25K Shortest Runway Prize, Vance Turner/$25K Efficiency Prize, Dave and Diane Anders/$15K Top Speed First Prize, Vance Turner/$10K Top Speed Second Prize CAFE Foundation

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