New NASA Challenge Offers Prizes for Sprouting Astronaut Food Systems

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have coordinated to open the Deep Space Food Challenge, targeted at developing novel food system technologies for long-duration deep space missions. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Astronauts need hearty nutrients to maintain a healthy diet in space, but like any of us, they want their food to taste good, too! As NASA develops concepts for longer crewed missions to Mars and beyond, the agency will need innovative and sustainable food systems that check all the boxes.


Dig In: NASA Challenge Seeks Innovations to Excavate Moon Resources

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — From garage inventors to university students and entrepreneurs, NASA is looking for ideas on how to excavate the Moon’s icy regolith, or dirt, and deliver it to a hypothetical processing plant at the lunar South Pole. The NASA Break the Ice Lunar Challenge, now open for registration, is designed to develop new technologies that could support a sustained human presence on the Moon by the end of the decade.


NASA Seeks Ideas from the Public for Powering Exploration on the Moon

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Watts on the Moon Challenge — the agency’s newest public prize competition — is now open and accepting submissions. NASA invites innovative minds from across the United States to provide ideas for sustainable energy storage, distribution, and management on the lunar surface.

As part of the Artemis program, NASA will send astronauts to new areas of the Moon including the lunar South Pole, and prepare for human exploration of Mars. As noted in the agency’s recent lunar surface report, sustainable missions will require an unprecedented capacity for power. Astronauts will need a continuous supply of power from multiple sources to live and work on the Moon for long periods. A flexible and robust system for surface power is key to safe and robust lunar exploration.


New NASA Competition Aims to Convert Carbon Dioxide into Exploration Sweet Success

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — When astronauts begin exploring Mars, they’ll need to use local resources, freeing up launch cargo space for other mission-critical supplies. Carbon dioxide is one resource readily abundant within the Martian atmosphere.

NASA’s new CO2 Conversion Challenge, conducted under the Centennial Challenges program, is a public competition seeking novel ways to convert carbon dioxide into useful compounds. Such technologies will allow us to manufacture products using local, indigenous resources on Mars, and can also be implemented on Earth by using both waste and atmospheric carbon dioxide as a resource.


2017: A Year of Progress and Poised for the Future

ISARA’s three antenna panels feature a printed circuit board pattern that narrowly focuses the CubeSat’s radio transmission beam in much the same way a parabolic dish reflector does. (Credit: Nanoracks)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Throughout 2017, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) made noteworthy progress in maturing and demonstrating technologies to bolster America’s space agenda, while setting the stage for vital advancements within the next several years.

From expanding the utilization of space in low-Earth orbit and enabling new scientific discoveries, to advancing capabitilties for robotic and human exploration of deep space destinations – STMD is executing a broad cross-cutting agenda, one that is pioneering groundbreaking technologies and knowhow.


NASA Opens $2 Million Third Phase of 3D-Printed Habitat Competition

HUNTVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond will require innovative options to shelter our explorers, and we won’t be able to carry all of the materials with us from Earth. NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a Centennial Challenges competition, seeks ways to create or develop the technologies needed to create such habitats on-site, and challenges citizen inventors to lead the way. Today, NASA and challenge partner Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, announce the opening of Phase 3 of the competition for team registration.

“The ideas and technologies this competition has already produced are encouraging, and we are excited to see what this next phase will bring,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges. “The solutions we seek from our competitions are revolutionary, which by nature makes them extremely difficult. But this only fuels our teams to work harder to innovate and solve.”


Cube Quest Challenge Team Spotlight: Ragnarok Industries

Heimdallr Cubesat (Credit: Ragnarok Industries)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Ragnarok Industries is busily working on its Cube Quest Challenge entry, a 6U smallsat named Heimdallr. The spacecraft will feature electric propulsion to reach lunar orbit, explains Luigi Balarinni, chief executive officer and co-founder of the firm.

A big plus in their design and building of Heimdallr is partnering with a diversity of space industry companies, furthering their objective of advancing CubeSat applications in the near future.


Cube Quest Challenge Spotlight: Team Miles

A plume from thruster testing of Team Miles’ CubeSat. The Miles mission will be flown autonomously by an onboard computer system and propelled by evolutionary plasma thrusters. (Credit: Team Miles)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — For Team Miles and their CubeSat entry, it’s about propelling citizen science to the moon…and beyond.

The breadbox-size Miles is a 6U satellite built to navigate into deep space.


NASA Offers Prize Money for Winning 3D-Printed Habitat Ideas

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is offering $1.1 million in prize money in Phase 2 of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge for new ways to build houses where future space explorers can live and work. The three-part competition asks citizen inventors to use readily available and recyclable materials for the raw material to print habitats.


NASA Challenge Aims to Grow Human Tissue to Aid in Deep Space Exploration

A stack of active tissue culture flasks in a temperature controlled compartment. (Credit: NASA)
A stack of active tissue culture flasks in a temperature controlled compartment. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA, in partnership with the nonprofit Methuselah Foundation’s New Organ Alliance, is seeking ways to advance the field of bioengineering through a new prize competition.

The Vascular Tissue Challenge offers a $500,000 prize to be divided among the first three teams that successfully create thick, metabolically-functional human vascularized organ tissue in a controlled laboratory environment.


NASA Cube Quest Challenge Reaches First Milestone


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The first milestone of NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge has been reached, as teams competed in the first of four ground tournaments in August. The five highest-scoring competitors will each be awarded $20,000.

Cube Quest is a competition to build flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced communication and propulsion near and beyond the moon. Teams that achieve top performance at high-speed data communications, navigation and survival after achieving lunar orbit or a minimum long-distance range from Earth compete for an unprecedented $5.5 million prize purse in NASA’s first ever in-space challenge. Cube Quest is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, which accelerates technology by engaging non-traditional sources in competition.


NASA Centennial Challenges Program Eyes Deep Space CubeSat Prizes


NASA has issued a request for information (RFI) on two CubeSat challenges it is eying for the moon and deep space:

The Centennial Challenges program seeks input on two challenges being considered for start in 2014. The two challenges described in this RFI are based upon feedback to an earlier CubeSat Challenges RFI ( ) released in February 2014. The challenges build, deliver, and operate flight-qualified small spacecraft capable of advanced operations near the moon and beyond.

The purposes of this RFI are: (1) to gather feedback on the two updated challenges being considered, the overall challenge structure, draft rules, and prize amounts and (2) to determine the level of interest in potentially competing in these challenges.

The first challenge will award up to $3,000,000 in cash prizes to registered competitors that are able to meet or exceed technical objectives for 1) propulsion, 2) communication, and 3) longevity while in lunar orbit. The second challenge will award up to $1,500,00 in cash prizes to registered competitors that are able to meet or exceed technical objectives for 1) communication and 2) longevity beyond lunar distances. Up to $1,000,000 will also be awarded for successful competition of Ground Qualification Competition reviews.

The proposed challenges are NASAs first prize competitions to demonstrate and compete in deep space and would be carried into trans-lunar trajectory of the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) on the first launch (EM-1) of the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion planned for Fiscal Year 2018 or on non-NASA vehicles that the competitor secures.

Miami Resident Designs Winning Nano-Sat Launch Challenge Logo

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL., July 13, 2012 (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida – the State of Florida’s spaceport authority and aerospace economic development agency – announced the winning logo for the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge today after tallying votes via Facebook and the Space Florida Website.

The winning logo was designed by Mike Poller from Miami, Florida.


Space Florida Conducting Contest for Nano-Sat Launch Challenge Logo

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. — June 7, 2012 (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida – the State of Florida’s aerospace economic development agency – has released a call for entries to the community to design a logo for the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge.

The Nano-Sat Launch Challenge is being managed through the Space Florida Small Satellite Research Center (SFSSRC) and will take place in 2013. The purpose of the Challenge is to bring forth innovations in propulsion and other technologies, as well as operations and management relevant to safe, low-cost, small payload delivery systems accessing Low Earth Orbit. These technologies will benefit future launch systems and emerging commercial space capabilities in government, commercial and academic sectors. The Nano-Sat Launch Challenge will support NASA’s Centennial Challenge Program.


Space Access 12: Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge Discussion

Percy Luney
Vice President, Space Florida

Space Florida is administering NASA’s $3 million Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge through a new non-profit, the Space Florida Small Satellite Research Center. Luney was at Space Access 12 to solicit ideas and and answer questions from attendees on proposed rules set to be released for public comment on Tuesday. (more…)