Hidden Nook

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

$250,000 NASA Challenge

[Media Source*]

NASA has promised a cool $250,000 for the first team capable of pulling breathable oxygen from mock moon dirt, the latest award in the space agency's Centennial Challenges program...

"Oxygen extraction technologies will be critical for both robotic and human missions to the moon," said Sam Durrance, executive director for FSRI. "Like other space-focused prize competitions, the MoonROx challenge will encourage a broad community of innovators to develop technologies that expand our capabilities."

This may not seem like much of a "challenge" if it were not for the fact that contestants have to pull 11 pounds of oxygen from a volcanic lunar ash-derived substance called JSC-1. As if to make matters worse not only do they have to "deliver the goods" but do this under 8 hours.

It looks like instead of using government scientists to design, test, and build everything for them, NASA is adopting a strategy used by the Pentagon and "hiring" minds to do the labor on their behalf.
The 2005 Beam Power Challenge will award $50,000 to the first team that can use wireless technology to lift a weight off the ground. Such technology could eventually be employed to beam payloads off Earth.

Meanwhile, the 2005 Tether Challenge calls for teams to build the strongest tether of a specific diameter. The tethers will each be stretched to the breaking point, with winners advancing through the ranks toward a final showdown with NASA's "house tether," made of existing material. Beat the "house tether" and you snag $50,000.

NASA is setting aside $80 million for these Centennial Challenge prizes for the next five years in order to encourage the private industry to get more involved with the space industry. Doing so will not only help the private sector out (who are "lunar" focused) but NASA as well as it will draw interest towards their Martian objectives, eventually increasing their budget and benefiting all of mankind.

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By Darnell Clayton • 4:59 PM • Email Post • •


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