Three New Centennial Challenges Announced

Three New Centennial Challenges Announced

Today NASA announced three new prize opportunities through its Centennial Challenges program. The three new challenges are the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge to stimulate innovations in low-cost launch technology, Night Rover Challenge for energy storage technologies, and Sample Return Robot Challenge for automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun said that “there is innovation in this country and we hope to shine it like a laser on our space program and change the way we do business.”

The launch challenge carries a prize purse of $2 million; the other two are worth $1.5 million each. Details on what it takes to win will be developed by non-profit organizations that NASA expects to select by early October to manage the competitions.

The three challenges were selected from more than 200 ideas solicited from NASA employees, the public, and the aerospace community. NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist and its Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) then worked with NASA’s Mission Directorates to narrow the list and select the final three. The chosen challenges are meant to fit in with NASA’s plans for the future without being on the critical path since the “results are unpredictable,” said Centennial Challenges program manager Andy Petro.

The announcement was made as part of a NASA-sponsored Space Techology Industry Forum that began today at the University of Maryland Inn and Conference Center. The forum continues tomorrow.

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