Category Archives: Contests and Games

“The Moon Race” – A lunar technologies competition

Airbus, Blue Origin, ESA, and some other heavyweight companies and organizations are backing a new technical competition program called The Moon Race:

The Moon Race competition is a global initiative founded by Airbus and international partners, aiming to boost the movement around Moon exploration and enable the demonstration of key technologies required for its sustainable exploration.

Some minor details such as exactly what technologies are to be demonstrated and the value of the prizes have yet to be determined: Blue Origin and Airbus back ‘The Moon Race’ – Alan Boyle/GeekWire

Organizers launched their effort at this week’s International Astronautical Congressin Bremen, Germany. They want teams to propose technological challenges for lunar surface operations in time for next year’s IAC meeting.

Suggestions could include constructing the first artifact made from lunar resources, extracting enough water from lunar soil to fill a standard-sized bottle, building a power-generating system capable of lighting up the lunar night, or operating the first lunar greenhouse.

The application period is due to open in early 2019. “Details on monetary prizes will be announced with the opening of the applications period,” the organizers say.

The competition is envisioned as a five year program starting from the 2019 starting line. The teams would be expected to “demonstrate proof-of-concept” in 2020, test the systems in a “lunar environment” in 2021, build working implementations in 2022-2023, and send them to the Moon in 2024.


Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto

“First Women on the Moon” Essay Contest

An announcement from the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA):


100-Word Submission Due 5 October 2018
Grand Prize: All-expenses-paid participation at Galaxy Forum Hainan, China 4-7 December 2018 

INTRODUCTION: The first men walked upon the Moon in 1969. Since then, 61 women from multiple nations have traveled into Space. Several countries are now actively aiming for the Moon, including a Human Return to the Moon. The First Woman to the Moon is walking among us.

GRAND PRIZE: Winner will attend all sessions, ceremonies and activities at ILOA Galaxy Forum Hainan 2018, China on 4-7 December, and participate in the “First Women on the Moon” special luncheon panel featuring Astronauts Soyeon Yi, Naoko Yamazaki, other women Astronauts from China and USA (TBD); and potentially an Apollo Moonwalker. Direct purchase by ILOA will cover round-trip regular class airline travel to Hainan Island, hotel accommodation at Hilton Wenchang, Galaxy Forum registration fee and meals. Reimbursement for reasonable traveling incidentals such as meals at airports and ground transportation will be covered. Reimbursement for passport and visa, and expedited fees, will also be provided, if necessary.

HOW TO ENTER: Describe in 100 words or less why you would like to be the First Woman or one of the First Women on the Moon, and the significance of the First Woman landing on the Moon. Send your essay with subject line of “First Women on the Moon” to along with your full name, age, mailing address, and telephone number listed at the bottom.

DEADLINE: All email entries due by 5 October 2018, 12:00 Hawaii Standard Time (UTC-10) to email address:

ELIGIBILITY: Contest is open to all women 21 years of age or older by 1 December 2018, from any country, nation, continent, background and ability. English is the main language of Galaxy Forum Hainan, therefore we ask for essays to be written in English. Contestant must already have or be eligible to receive a Passport and a Visa to travel to Hainan, China for 4-7 December 2018.

WINNER SELECTION: ILOA Associates will review and select a Contest Winner based on the merit of the written essay.

WINNER NOTIFICATION: Grand Prize Winner will be informed via email or phone by 17 October 2018 and announced to media shortly thereafter. A Second Grand Prize or Runner Up may be chosen at ILOA’s discretion and may include an identical Grand Prize trip to ILOA Galaxy Forum Hainan, publicity of contestant’s essay, and / or a ‘First Women on the Moon’ mailing packet with posters and pins designed by ILOA.

SPONSOR:  International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) an interglobal enterprise incorporated in Hawai’i as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to realize the multifunctional ILO — to advance human knowledge of the Cosmos through observation from our Moon, and to participate in lunar base build-out with Aloha. The ILOA also since 2008 has cosponsored with its Space Age Publishing Company affiliate an international series of 85 Galaxy Forums.

ODDS OF WINNING: The odds of winning this Contest will depend upon the number of Contest Contestants. 

GALAXY FORUM HAINAN 2018, CHINA: Full public details for Galaxy Forum Hainan 2018 may be found here:

FURTHER INFORMATION AND CONTACT: Please visit the websites for International Lunar Observatory Association, Galaxy Forum, or affiliated Space Age Publishing Company. ILOA may or may not have time or ability to respond to contestant questions, however contestants are welcome to send questions to

GENERAL CONDITIONS & BINDING AGREEMENTS: By entering this CONTEST (the “Contest”) and accepting the terms herein, you (the “Contestant” or “Winner”) agree to be bound by the conditions and terms outlined in this document. ILOA is not liable for any problems that may prevent your entry in the contest, or for events that delay or cancel the contest. No purchase is necessary to win.

These rules are subject to change and interpretation at the discretion of ILOA. Failure to adhere to the contest rules will be subject for removal from the contest.

Contestant is solely responsible for reviewing and understanding the policies regarding eligibility to participate in the Contest, its rules, regulations and responsibilities.

Contestant / Winner agrees that neither ILOA nor any affiliate, officer, director, employee, attorney, or agent of ILOA shall have any liability for any indirect or direct damages, inconveniences or issues that may arise from sources including, but not limited to, media attention, publicity, travel, ‘acts of god’, force majeure, or personal medical problems / sickness that could occur; the Contestant / Winner hereby waives, releases, and agrees not to sue any of them upon, any claim for any special, indirect, incidental, or consequential damages suffered or incurred by this Contest or ILOA in connection with, arising out of, or in any way related to this Contest.

CONTEST CANCELLATION, SUSPENSION OR MODIFICATION: ILOA reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend this Contest if the Contest is not capable of being completed as planned for any reason. The decision of ILOA to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend this Contest shall be final in all respects.

PUBLICITY RELEASE: Unless prohibited by applicable law, Contestant / Winner authorizes and irrevocably grants to ILOA permission to, from time to time, reference and discuss Contestant / Winner and their participation in the Contest on-air and/or on their website(s) in photographs, video recordings, digital images, audio recordings, as well as in publications, newsletters, news releases, other printed materials, and in materials made available on the Internet or in other media now known or hereafter developed for any purpose ILOA deems proper. Such reference and discussion may involve Contestant’s name and voice, and other personal/biographical material or their participation. 

RULES CHANGES AND INTERPRETATIONS: ILOA reserves the right in its sole discretion to supplement or make changes to the rules of this Contest at any time without notice. ILOA reserves the right in its sole discretion to interpret the rules of any contest, and such interpretation shall be binding upon all contestants.

CONTEST ENTITY AND IMMEDIATE FAMILY MEMBER DISQUALIFICATION: The officers, directors, employees, contractors, and agents of ILOA, as well as their immediate family members (and those living in the same household, whether or not related), are prohibited from participating in this Contest and do not qualify as Contestants. “Immediate family members” shall include spouses, siblings, parents, children, grandparents, and grandchildren, whether as “in-laws”, or by current or past marriage, remarriage, adoption, co-habitation or other familial extension.

FIRST WOMAN ON THE MOON POLL: ILOA invites anonymous voting from anyone for the “First Woman on the Moon” poll located on Space Calendar and Lunar Enterprise Daily

Participating in this poll does not in any way affect this Contest or its results.

MEDIA INQUIRES: We welcome any MEDIA inquiries to be sent directly to ILOA at

MAHALO / THANK YOU: ILOA sends a warm Mahalo and Thank You to all Contestants who enter this Contest and to all readers that share and support the ‘First Women on the Moon’ vision for the benefit of all humankind. Ad Astra with Aloha!



NASA opens the “CO2 Conversion Challenge” competition

Settlers on Mars will need to live off the land and off the atmosphere as well. For example, methane for rocket fuel can be derived from the Red Planet’s abundant carbon dioxide (CO2).  NASA has now opened a Centennial Challenges contest to find an efficient and Mars-base compatible way to convert that CO2 into other “useful compounds”, particularly glucose.

The NASA CO2 Conversion Challenge invites teams from schools and private industry to compete for the one million dollar purse.

Help us discover ways to develop novel synthesis technologies that use carbon dioxide (CO2) as the sole carbon source to generate molecules that can be used to manufacture a variety of products, including “substrates” for use in microbial bioreactors.

Because CO2 is readily abundant within the Martian atmosphere, such technologies will translate into in-situ manufacturing of products to enable humans to live and thrive on the planet, and also be implemented on Earth by using both waste and atmospheric CO2 as a resource.

The contest will be in two phases:

NASA envisions this competition having two phases with a total prize purse of up to $1 million. Phase 1 (the current phase) is the Concept Phase with a prize purse of up to $250,000. The initiation of Phase 2, a Demonstration Challenge with a prize purse of up to $750,000, is contingent on the emergence of promising submissions in Phase 1 that demonstrate a viable approach to achieve the Challenge goals. The official rules for Phase 2 will be released prior to the opening of Phase 2.

See the timeline for assembling your team, registering, etc:

Do you have an idea to develop or adapt technology for converting CO2 into compounds like glucose, which can then be used to manufacture “food” for microbial bioreactors? You must first register no later than Thursday, January 24, 2019, at 5:00 PM Central.

Here is the official announcement:

NASA CO2 Conversion Challenge 

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.

“Enabling sustained human life on another planet will require a great deal of resources and we cannot possibly bring everything we will need. We have to get creative.” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program. “If we can transform an existing and plentiful resource like carbon dioxide into a variety of useful products, the space – and terrestrial – applications are endless.”

Carbon and oxygen are the molecular building blocks of sugars. Developing efficient systems that can produce glucose from carbon dioxide will help advance the emerging field of biomanufacturing technology on Earth.

While sugar-based biomaterials are inexpensively made on Earth by plants, this approach cannot be easily adapted for space missions because of limited resources such as energy, water and crew time. The CO2Conversion Challenge aims to help find a solution. Energy rich sugars are preferred microbial energy sources composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. They could be used as the feedstock for systems that can efficiently produce a variety of items. Glucose is the target sugar product in this challenge because it is the easiest to metabolize, which will optimize conversion efficiency.

The competition is divided into two phases. During Phase 1, teams must submit a design and description of a conversion system that includes details of the physical-chemical approaches to convert carbon dioxide into glucose. NASA will award up to five teams $50,000 each, to be announced in April 2019. Phase 2, the system construction and demonstration stage, is contingent on promising submissions in Phase 1 that offer a viable approach to achieving challenge goals. Phase 2 will carry a prize purse of up to $750,000, for a total challenge prize purse of $1 million.

The Centennial Challenges program, part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, bridges the innovation gap between NASA and the nation by stimulating research and technology solutions inside and outside of the traditional aerospace community. The program offers incentive prizes to generate revolutionary solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. Centennial Challenges is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.


See also NASA Mars Mission Contest Will Award $1M for Turning CO2 into Glucose | Fortune



Video: The Planetary Post with Robert Picardo + Win a trip to Florida to watch a Falcon Heavy launch

Here is the latest episode of the Planetary Post with Robert Picardo from the Planetary Society:

Robert Picardo is in Scotland so he invited a special guest host, MaryLiz Bender, to share her recent launch experiences on the Florida Space Coast.

As mentioned in the video, the Society is holding a drawing (entry with a minimum $10 donation) to win a trip to Cape Canaveral to see a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch that will include the Society’s LightSail-2 among the payloads: Join Bill Nye for Lunch and the Launch of LightSail® 2 –

Well, it’s official: The future is here. It’s in the form of the LightSail 2 launch, and who’s got a front row seat? You. You’ve also got an A-list guest by your side in the form of Bill Nye. You’ll head to Cape Canaveral to see LightSail 2—a small CubeSat created and crowdfunded by the global community of The Planetary Society supporters—launch into space, deploy shiny solar sails and soar into space on beams of pure energy (aka, the light from the sun). And to get up there, it’ll hitch a ride on the world’s most powerful rocket, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Pretty cool. Watch this monumental launch with Bill, then grab a bite with him to geek out over the overwhelming awesomeness of it all. After that, you’ll attend an exclusive VIP dinner for The Planetary Society, an incredible organization that introduces people to the wonders of the cosmos and empowers us all to advance space science and exploration. Flights and hotel included.



Top 10 teams selected by NASA for next stage of 3D-Printed habitat competition

An announcement from NASA:

Top 10 Teams Selected in Virtual Stage of 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge

X-Arc team illustration. X-Arc is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is challenging teams of citizen inventors to push the state of the art of additive construction to design and build sustainable shelters for humans to live on Mars. Previous levels of the challenge have resulted in advanced habitat concepts, material compositions and printing technologies. The current stage (Phase 3: Level 1) of the multi-level contest challenges participants to prepare digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of a house on Mars using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software tools.

Image provided by ALPHA Team, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

The habitat must comprise 1,000 square feet of living space to support four astronauts for one year and include plans for systems such as life support, mechanical and electrical, spacesuit and rover hatches, and plumbing.

Image provided by Colorado School of Mines, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

“This stage of the competition asks the participants to design habitats that will combine shelter with critical survival systems,” said Monsi Roman, program manager for the Centennial Challenges Program. “We are asking them to look beyond the physical structure into the needs of our future explorers.”

Image provided by Hassell & EOC, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

Eighteen teams submitted their designs on May 16, and judges have selected the top 10 teams that will continue to compete for $100,000 in prize money that will be awarded to the top five teams in July. The teams will be evaluated by a panel of subject matter experts from NASA and industry.

Image provided by Kahn-Yates, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

The teams, listed in alphabetical order, are:

  • ALPHA Team – Marina Del Rey, California
  • Colorado School of Mines – Golden, Colorado
  • Hassell & EOC – San Francisco
  • Kahn-Yates – Jackson, Mississippi
  • Mars Incubator – New Haven, Connecticut
  • AI. SpaceFactory – New York
  • Northwestern University – Evanston, Illinois
  • SEArch+/Apis Cor – New York
  • Team Zopherus – Rogers, Arkansas
  • X-Arc – San Antonio

“There is a great breadth in use of technology and 3D-modeling skills among the judges that range from Building Information Modeling software developers to the most sophisticated applications of virtual design and construction,” said Pete Carrato, lead judge and corporate manager of Building Information Modeling at challenge sponsor Bechtel. “Each team’s submission is a view into the future of developing surface-based facilities on Mars.”

Image provided by Mars Incubator, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to foster the development of technologies to manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials. The vision is that autonomous machines will someday be deployed in deep space destinations, including Mars, to construct shelters for human habitation. On Earth, these same capabilities could be used to produce affordable housing wherever it is needed or where access to conventional building materials and skills are limited.

Image provided by AI. SpaceFactory, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

The challenge, which began in 2014, is structured in phases:

  • Phase 1, the Design Competition, required teams to submit architectural renderings and was completed in 2015. ($50,000 prize purse)
  • Phase 2, the Structural Member Competition, focused on material technologies, requiring teams to create structural components. It was completed in 2017. ($1.1 million prize purse)
  • Phase 3 (current), the On-Site Habitat Competition, challenges competitors to fabricate sub-scale habitats, and has five levels of competition – three construction levels and two virtual levels. For the virtual levels, teams must use BIM software to design a habitat that combines allowances for both the structure and systems it must contain. The construction levels challenge the teams to 3D-print elements of the habitat, culminating with a one-third-scale printed habitat for the final level. ($2 million prize purse)
Image provided by Northwestern University, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is managed through a partnership with NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program and Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. Bradley University has partnered with sponsors CaterpillarBechtel and Brick & Mortar Ventures to administer the competition. NASA’s Centennial Challenges program is part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Image provided by SEArch+/ Apis Cor, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.

For information about the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, visit:

For information about NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, visit:

Image provided by Team Zopherus, which is a top 10 finalist in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge Phase: 3 Level 1 competition.