Category Archives: Contests and Games

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.

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

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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 – Omaze.com

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.

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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: http://www.nasa.gov/3DPHab

For information about NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/winit

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

130 student teams to compete in 2nd Annual Spaceport America Cup rocket competition

An announcement from Spaceport America:

Second Annual Spaceport America Cup Scheduled
for June 19-23 at Spaceport America, NM
 

130 Teams of College and University Rocketeers from Around the Globe to Compete

SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. (PRWEB) JUNE 13, 2018:  Student rocketeers from around the globe will gather at Spaceport America June 21-23 for the Second Annual Spaceport America Cup, the world’s largest Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition for student rocketry teams. The public in invited to meet the team and see their projects on June 19 in nearby Las Cruces, NM. Spaceport America is located between the cities of Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

More than 130 teams from US and international colleges and universities – including Canada, Egypt, Great Britain, India, Mexico, Poland, Turkey, Switzerland, as well as 31 of the 50 US States, plus the District of Columbia, and four of 13 Canadian provinces and territories – are registered. The competition will be challenging for the participants and exciting for spectators, as students will be launching solid, liquid, and hybrid rockets to target altitudes of 10,000 and 30,000 feet.

Among the events open to the public, under the auspices of the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association and Spaceport America, are:

  • Tuesday, June 19 – 8 am – 5 pm: Free admission. Come interact with students and view their projects at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E University Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88001
  • Thursday-Saturday, June 21 – 23: Gates are open 8 am – 4 pm, dependent on weather conditions. Watch as rockets soar thru the sky and mingle with students in the spectator area. A three-day pass for adults is $20, with a one-day pass available for $10. For children in grades K-12, a three-day pass is $10; a one-day pass is $5.

Visit www.spaceportamericacup.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

About Spaceport America: Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The FAA-licensed launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has a rocket-friendly environment of 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, low population density, a 12,000-foot spaceway, and 340 days of sunshine and low humidity. Some of the most respected companies in the commercial space industry are customers at Spaceport America: Virgin Galactic, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, UP Aerospace, EnergeticX, Pipeline2Space and EXOS Aerospace. Visit http://spaceportamerica.com for more information.
Spaceport America is #NewMexicoTRUE.

Follow Spaceport America on
Twitter: @Spaceport_NM
Facebook: @SpaceportNM
Instagram: @spaceport.america

About Las Cruces: Nestled in southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley between the Rio Grande River and Organ Mountains, Las Cruces is quickly becoming a popular southwestern destination, and is now emphasizing its close connections to space travel, including the First Annual Space Festival in April 2018, and a full-size replica of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo on display near City Hall. Las Cruces blends a unique variety of such special events, attractions, culture and historical sites, as well as superb weather, with 350 days of sunshine per year. For more information on all Las Cruces has to offer, contact Visit Las Cruces at (575) 541-2150 or http://www.visitlascruces.com.

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Base11 Space Challenge: $1M prize for a student team whose liquid-fueled rocket reaches 100km

The non-profit organization Base 11 led by Landon Taylor has organized a rocketry competition for university students that is offering a $1M cash prize:

The Base11 Space Challenge is a $1 million+ prize for a student-led university team to design, build, and launch a liquid-propelled, single-stage rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers (the Karman Line) by December 30, 2021. Annual competitions and prizes mark milestone achievements in the process including design of the liquid-fuel rocket, static testing of the engine, and smaller pop-up innovation challenges to be announced. The biggest purse, which is fully funded, is the $1 million prize for launching the rocket to the edge of space.

The mission behind the Base 11 Space Challenge is to dramatically increase the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent in the United States with greater representation and inclusion of women and minorities, while empowering the future workforce with the education and skill-training necessary for jobs in the aerospace and related industries.

This video gives an overview of the program:

And a video of the debut event held for the program last week:

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