NASA Awards $500K in First Phase of $5M Watts on the Moon Challenge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded $500,000 to seven winning teams in Phase 1 of the agency’s Watts on the Moon Challenge. The technology design competition challenged U.S. innovators, from garage tinkerers to university researchers a­nd startup entrepreneurs, to imagine a next-generation energy infrastructure on the Moon.

Sixty teams submitted original design concepts aimed at meeting future needs for robust and flexible technologies to power human and robotic outposts on the Moon. After evaluation by a judging panel, NASA announced the winners during a private awards ceremony May 20.

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Space Access ’11: Aye Matey, ‘Tis the KC Space Pirates!

KC Space Pirates
Frank Smith

  • Work on laser power beaming
  • Some of power beaming money won by LaserMotive
  • Power Beaming competition — still has $1.1 million remaining – only 1 team (LaserMotive) can compete in terms of cable climbing
  • KC Space Pirate’s laser provider decided to sell its laser to someone else for $1 million — won’t let them borrow it
  • About $1 million short of a new laser
  • Officials are considering changing the remaining competition to avoid climbing — would involve beaming power between two points
  • Tether experiment
    • small sat (< 1 kg)
  • Ashes to Orbit
    • one ounce of ashes into polar orbit
    • open the container — ashes end up in a cloud
    • Re-enter the orbit in 1-2 weeks
    • spread the ashes over the entire Earth
    • one of the team is from India — if you can lower the price, would have millions of people wanting to scatter ashes in space — cultural element
    • hope to launch to launch one capsule per month by the end of the year
    • have a launch provider that doesn’t want to go public yet