Robotic Mining Competition

Follow Us On

Contact Us

Richard Johanboeke, NASA
Kennedy Communication and Public Engagement Office
Project Manager, Robotic Mining Competition
E-mail: Richard.m.Johanboeke@nasa.gov

Bethanne Hull, Wichita Tribal Enterprises, LLC
Kennedy Communication and Public Engagement Office
Project Coordinator, Robotic Mining Competition
E-mail: Bethanne.Hull@nasa.gov

NASA Robotic Mining Competition

Loading ...

Competition Images

About the Competition

NASA’s Sixth Annual NASA Robotic Mining Competition is for university-level students to design and build a mining robot that can traverse the simulated Martian chaotic terrain, excavate Martian regolith and deposit the regolith into a Collector Bin within 10 minutes. There is particular relevance to NASA’s mission of pioneering a human presence on Mars through resource mining and utilization. A critical resource on Mars is water ice which can be found buried in the regolith where it is well insulated. The technology concepts developed by the university teams for this competition conceivably could be used to robotically mine regolith resources on Mars. NASA will directly benefit from the competition by encouraging the development of innovative robotic excavation concepts from universities which may result in clever ideas and solutions which could be applied to an actual excavation device or payload. The unique physical properties of basaltic regolith and the reduced 3/8th of Earth gravity make excavation a difficult technical challenge. Advances in Martian mining have the potential to significantly contribute to our nation’s space vision and NASA space exploration operations.

Read More About the Competition

The complexities of the challenge include the abrasive characteristics of the basaltic regolith simulant, the weight and size limitations of the mining robot, and the ability to tele-operate it from a remote mission control center. The scoring for the mining category will require teams to consider a number of design and operation factors such as dust tolerance and dust projection, communications, vehicle mass, energy/power required, and autonomy.

The competition will be conducted by NASA at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The teams that can use telerobotic or autonomous operation to excavate the basaltic regolith simulant, called Black Point-1 or BP-1, and score the most points wins the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence. The team will receive the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence trophy, KSC launch invitations, team certificates for each member, and a $5,000 team scholarship. Awards for other categories include monetary team scholarships, a school trophy or plaque, team and individual certificates, and KSC launch invitations.

Check out the NASA EDGE Show from the 2014 Robotic Mining Competition. Click here to download the show.


Eligibility and Registration

Who is eligible to compete?
Undergraduate and graduate student teams enrolled in a U.S. college or university are eligible to enter NASA's Robotic Mining Competition. Design teams must include: at least one faculty with a college or university and at least two undergraduate or graduate students. NASA has not set an upper limit on team members. A team should have a sufficient number of members to successfully operate their mining robot. Registration is limited to the first 50 approved teams.

Registration is now open for the 2015 Robotic Mining Competition. Please click here to register your team.

What are the requirements to compete?
In accordance with the rules, teams will compete in up to five major competition categories including: on-site mining, systems engineering paper, outreach project, slide presentation (optional), and team spirit (optional). Additionally, teams can earn bonus points for mined and deposited BP-1 in the competition attempts.

What can teams win?
The team with the most points from all categories will win the grand prize, the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence, and will receive the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence trophy, team certificates for each member and KSC launch invitations, and a $5,000 team scholarship. Awards for other categories include monetary team scholarships, a school trophy or plaque, and team certificates.

It is the responsibility of the teams to read, understand, and abide by all of NASA's Sixth Annual Robotic Mining Competition Rules and Rubrics, stay updated with new FAQs, watch the webcasts, communicate with NASA's representatives, and complete all surveys.

Rules, Rubrics, FAQs, & Other Resources

Resources for Minority Serving Institutions

Each year, NASA RMC seeks to maximize the number of teams which successfully complete the challenge, from its pool of entries. While miscellaneous unforeseen circumstances cause teams to drop out from the competition, a historical analysis of the RMC shows that the number one reason teams fail to compete is because of a lack of adequate funding. Adequate funding is required to build the robot and travel to the event, and teams sometimes fall short of raising the funds they originally projected in their budget. In addition, parts and equipment can sometimes unexpectedly fail causing the need for funds to replace these items, and teams are unprepared to cover such expenses.

However, with proper planning, distribution of fundraising tasks among team members, and a little creativity, funding related challenges can indeed be overcome. The NASA Minority Innovation Challenges Institute produced a webinar on "Fundraising for NASA Challenges" which covers best fundraising practices from successful RMC teams, techniques to solicit corporate and private sponsors, how to use crowdfunding, and potential grants to apply for. A recording of the webinar, as well as the powerpoint, can be viewed at: http://nasamici.com/ondemand/fundraising-for-nasa-challenges

Categories & Awards

In addition to the awards listed below, school plaques and individual certificates will be awarded for exemplary performance in the following categories:

Categories & Awards

Category Award Maximum Points
On-site Mining* First place $3,000 team scholarship and Kennedy launch invitations 25
Second place $2,000 team scholarship and Kennedy launch invitations 20
Third place $1,000 team scholarship and Kennedy launch invitations 15
Teams not placing first, second, or third, will receive one point per kilogram mined and deposited Up to 10
Systems Engineering Paper* $500 team scholarship Up to 20
Outreach Project Report* $500 team scholarship Up to 20
Slide Presentation and Demonstration° $500 team scholarship Up to 20
Team Spirit° $500 team scholarship Up to 15
Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence A school trophy, $5,000 team scholarship, and Kennedy launch invitations. 100 Point Max
Judges' Innovation Award° Trophy  
Efficient Use of Communications Power Award° Trophy  
Caterpillar Award for Full Autonomy sponsored by Caterpillar Inc.° First Place: $1,500 team scholarship; Second Place: $750 team scholarship; Third Place: $250 team scholarship  
Best Use of Social Media Award° Trophy


What is available for K-12 students?

Although this competition is for college students, there are many opportunities for younger students to participate.

Please see below to find out more information:

K-12 Grade Student Groups

K-12 grade students are invited to join us in the Exploration Station in the Center for Space Education at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as we build and program LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robots! Students will also have the opportunity to interact with the mining teams as they are participating in the Robotic Mining Competition. This will be a great opportunity for students to get some hands-on experience in robotics. You won't want to miss this exciting opportunity! Contact Andrea Cann, NASA Student Programs coordinator at KSC's Education Resource Center at (321) 615-3226 or call the main office line at (321) 867-4090, to reserve your group's spot. School groups, summer camp groups, clubs, and community organizations are all welcome. Space and times are limited so call early. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex student guests are also welcome on a space available basis during the week.

For student group discounts to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, call (321) 449-4832.

FIRST Robotics Teams

FIRST Robotics Teams are invited to display and demonstrate your FIRST robot at NASA's Robotic Mining Competition. Please reserve your spot to display and demo your robot by May 8, 2015. Contact Gloria Murphy at gloria.a.murphy@nasa.gov for reservations.

College Recruitment Fair for High School Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

High school students are invited to participate in the Robotic College Recruitment Fair on Thursday, May 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. NASA is hosting the college recruitment fair to connect high school students with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education opportunities available at top colleges and universities across the nation. In addition, NASA scientists and engineers will be available to answer questions about specific majors and technical career paths. Please register by Friday, May 15. Click here to access the quick and easy registration form.

Countdown Clock

Loading ...

Key Dates


Systems Engineering Paper
     April 13, 2015
Outreach Project Report
     April 13, 2015
Presentation (optional)
     April 13, 2015
Team Spirit
     All year
Rule #31 and #32 Documentation
     April 30, 2015
Rule #33 and #34 Shipping Documentation
     April 30, 2015
Team Check-in, Unload/Uncrate Mining Robot
     May 18, 2015 by 3:00 p.m.
Practice Days
     May 18 & 19, 2015
Competition Days
     May 20, 21, & 22, 2015
Awards Ceremony
     Evening of May 22, 2015


Monday, May 18, 2015

8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Team Check-In & Mining Robot Unloading/Uncrating
8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Pits Open
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Robot Inspections
10:00 a.m. –12:00 p.m.
Practice Time
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Robot Inspections
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Practice Time

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Pits Open
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Robot Inspections
8:00 a.m. –12:00 p.m.
Practice Time
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Robot Inspections
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Practice Time

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Pits Open
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Opening Ceremony
9:15-a.m.-10:15 a.m.
VIP Breakfast
10:30 a.m. –1:00 p.m.
Official Competition
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Official Competition

Thursday, May 21, 2015

7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Pits Open
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Opening Remarks
8:30 a.m. –12:00 p.m.
Official Competition
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Official Competition

Friday, May 22, 2015

7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Pits Open
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Opening Remarks
8:30 a.m. –12:00 p.m.
Official Competition
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Official Competition
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Award Ceremony

Sponsors and Press Information

Competition Sponsors

 2015 Sponsors

 2014 Sponsors

 2013 Sponsors

2012 Sponsors

2011 Sponsors

Competition Press Info

2014 Press Info


2015 Competitors

  • Auburn University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • College of DuPage
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Florida International University
  • Inter American University of Puerto Rico
  • Iowa State University
  • John Brown University
  • Kent State University
  • Merrimack College
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering
  • Mississippi State University
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Montana State University
  • Montana Tech
  • NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering
  • Oakton Community College
  • Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico
  • Purdue University
  • South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
  • Temple University
  • Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
  • Texas A&M International University
  • The University of Akron
  • The University of Alabama
  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • University of Alaska-Fairbanks
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Florida
  • University of Hawaii-Hilo
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of Portland
  • University of Utah
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia State University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Wright State University

> Past Competitors (PDF)

> 2010-2014 Past Winners (PDF)

Page Last Updated: April 1st, 2015
Page Editor: Rob Cannon