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Latest News Continued
February 16, 2012

The twin-fuselage Taurus G4 electric-powered airplane, winner of Green Flight Challenge is one of four nominees for the 2011 Robert J. Collier Trophy, which honors the "greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America. The other nominees are: Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy, and the Gamera human-powered helicopter.

"We are very proud of the nominations we received for the 2011 Collier Trophy," said NAA Chairman Walter J. Boyne. "Each of them -- in their own way -- mark significant progress in the advancement of aviation and aerospace on the planet, and we certainly welcome them to the Collier selection process."

The winner will be selected by a panel of 31 leaders from the aviation and aerospace industry, and the announcement will be made at an awards ceremony on March 13.


February 8, 2012

The Cleantech Open has now released draft rules for the Night Rover Challenge. $1.5 Million is up for grabs for an energy storage system that allows a lunar rover to remain continuously operational throughout 3 lunar cycles, including 14-day-long periods of complete darkness. Public comments are encouraged to help refine the rules to produce the best competition for all involved. The Cleantech Open will use these comments to craft a final version of the rules prior to opening the competition for registration. You can find the rules and provide feedback at http://www.nightrover.org


November 1, 2011

NASA has signed an agreement with the Space Florida Small Satellite Research Center to manage the Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge, one of the agency's new Centennial Challenges prize competitions.

The Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge is to launch satellites with a mass of at least 1 kg (about 2 pounds) into Earth orbit, twice within the span of one week. This challenge has a prize purse of $2 million.

The competition will encourage innovations in propulsion and other technologies, as well as operations and management relevant to safe, low-cost, small payload delivery system for frequent access to Earth orbit. Innovations stemming from this challenge will be beneficial to broader applications in future launch systems and commercial capability for dedicated launches of small satellites at a cost comparable to secondary payload launches--a potential new market with Government, commercial, and academic customers.

For more information see the Nano-Satellite Launch website at: http://www.spaceflorida.gov/nano-sat-launch-challenge for details and preliminary schedule.

› View NASA Press Release


October 3, 2011

The Green Flight Challenge Sponsored By Google

Three planes competed and two aircraft met the challenge requirements to fly 200 miles in less than 2 hours and use less than one gallon of fuel (or energy equivalent) per passenger. The first place prize of $1,350,000 was won by the Pipistrel USA.com team led by Langelaan LLC of State College, Pennsylvania. Second place prize of $120,000 went to the e-Genius team led by Eric Raymond of Romona, California.

› View NASA Press Release
› Click here for reports from the Green Flight Challenge
› View high resolution photos of the challenge

The awards ceremony and exposition of the competing aircraft was held October 3, 2011 at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.

Click here for the Challenge Video highlights


September 21, 2011

NASA has signed an agreement with the California-based Cleantech Open to manage the Night Rover Challenge, one of the agency's new Centennial Challenges prize competitions.

The Night Rover Challenge is to demonstrate solar energy collection and storage systems suitable for rovers to be able to operate through several cycles of daylight and darkness. During the daylight period, systems can collect photons or thermal energy from the sun. During darkness, the stored energy would be used to move the entire mobile system toward a destination and continue useful exploration work. This challenge has a prize purse of $1.5 million.

For more information see the Night Rover website at http://NightRover.org/ for details and preliminary schedule.

› View NASA Press Release


September 19, 2011

NASA and its partner, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, have announced that registration is now open for the Sample Return Robot Challenge, one of the agency's new Centennial Challenges prize competitions.

The competition is planned for June 2012 in Worcester, Mass. Teams may register at http://challenge.wpi.edu

The Sample Return Robot Challenge is to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. This challenge has a prize purse of $1.5 million. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge are intended to improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications here on Earth.

› View NASA Press Release

September 15, 2011

A Fact Sheet for the Green Flight Challenge has been posted. It includes details on the Challenge and a public exposition of the aircraft and green technologies that will occur at NASA Ames Research Center on Monday October 3, 2011.

› Click here for the Green Flight Challenge Fact Sheet


August 18, 2011

2011 Strong Tether Challenge

The 2011 Strong Tether Centennial Challenge was held at the Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, WA on August 12, 2011. The Space Elevator Conference, sponsored by Microsoft, The Leeward Space Foundation and The International Space Elevator Consortium has hosted the Tether competition for 5 years and for this, the fifth year, there has yet to be a winner. Although no competitor has been able to claim the Centennial Challenge prize, the strength exhibited in competing tethers has continued to increase over the years as new and innovative methods are discovered for fabricating tethers with carbon nano-tube technology.

Dr. Bryan Laubscher of Odysseus Technologies and Flint Hamblin, an independent inventor, competed this year trying to achieve a tether strength of at least 5 MYuris. The goal of the Strong Tether Challenge is to develop a strong but lightweight tether. The unit of MYuri (N/kg/m) takes into account strength and weight of the sample being a measure of force carried per gram per length of tether sample.. A strong but heavy tether may have a lower Yuri value than a weaker but lighter sample. For a Space Elevator tether that may be 100,000 kilometers in length, both strength and weight are obviously important. While Bryan and Flint both entered tether samples that broke below the 5 MYuri threshold for a prize, they have continued to contribute to material science advancements in the use of carbon nano-tubes as a strengthening material.

Odysseus Technologies is a business venture started by Dr. Laubscher to advance the use of carbon nano-tubes in engineering materials design and use.


August 5, 2011

Strong Tether Challenge set for August 12th, 2011

The Spaceward Foundation will conduct the Strong Tether Challenge during the 2011 Space Elevator Conference in Redmond, WA at the Microsoft Conference Center. The NASA Centennial Challenge program is providing a prize purse of $2.0M—to encourage the innovation of tether technology necessary to make the concept of a space elevator possible. Spaceward is managing the Strong Tether and Power Beaming Challenges for NASA under a Space Act Agreement.

The single most difficult task in building the Space Elevator is achieving the required tether strength-to-weight ratio. In other words, developing a material that is both strong enough and light enough to support a 60,000 mile long tether. Compared to the best commercially available tether, a material is needed that is almost 25 times better. This is comparable to a leap in strength from wood to metal. With the discovery of carbon nanotubes (CNT) over 15 years ago the fabrication of a strong, light, cost feasible tether is becoming possible.

The Strong Tether Challenge was first offered in 2005 with the first CNT tether sample submitted, by MIT's Delta-X team, in 2007 but did not result in a winner. In the years that followed, there have been quite a few additional CNT samples - products of different teams using a wide ranging array of fabrication approaches. High tensile strength is the hardest property to achieve in a CNT tether, and all of the samples in the challenge to date have broken at very low strengths. Some were expected to be weak - they were simply the first efforts to put together a macroscopic tether. Some showed higher strength at the labs, but failed unexpectedly early in the pull test.  These results do not speak to the fundamental strength of CNTs. As a matter of fact, during these years, lab measurements have confirmed time and again the strength of individual CNTs and the physics of the interactions between them. It is only a matter of innovating the technique of putting them together that we are waiting for.

The 2011 challenge is drawing near - will this be the year of the CNT tether?


August 2, 2011

Green Flight Challenge Sponsored by Google

The CAFE Foundation has announced that Google will sponsor the NASA Centennial Challenge flight competition known as the Green Flight Challenge (GFC). The NASA Centennial Challenge program is providing a prize purse of $1.65M—the largest ever prize for aviation. CAFE is managing the Green Flight Challenge for NASA under a Space Act Agreement. Google will provide CAFE with challenge operating funds.

The focus of the Green Flight Centennial Challenge is to advance technologies in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions with cleaner renewable fuels and electric aircraft. In keeping with the objective to drive progress in aerospace technology of value to NASA missions, a number of purpose built aircraft are expected to compete at the event from September 25 through October 2, 2011 at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport near Santa Rosa, California.

To win the Green Flight Challenge, teams must innovate, design, build and operate an aircraft that exceeds an equivalent fuel-efficiency of 200 passenger miles per gallon (pax mpge). Typical general aviation aircraft have fuel efficiencies in the range of 5-50 pax mpge. Large passenger aircraft are in the 50-100 pax mpge range. The GFC aircraft must also achieve at least 100 mph average speed over a 200 mile race circuit, a take-off distance of less than 2,000 feet to clear 50 foot obstacle, and less than 78 dBA at full power takeoff from 250 foot sideline. The winner of this competition would likely be the most fuel efficient, small aircraft in the world.

All competing aircraft will be shown to the public at the Google Green Flight Challenge Exposition hosted by NASA. The exposition will be held at NASA Ames Research Center’s Moffett Field from 9 AM to 4 PM on October 3, 2011.
July 6, 2011
A draft Team Agreement for the Sample Return Robot Challenge has been posted for public comment at http://wp.wpi.edu/challenge/2011/07/06/team-agreement-for-review/. The Team Agreement provides additional details on the competition and must be signed by all competitors. The public and potential competitors may provide input on the draft until July 15, 2011. After the 15th, the rules will be removed from the website and modified by the judging committee. Final Team Agreement and Rules will be posted on or around July 28, 2011.
July 3, 2011
The Green Flight Challenge has been rescheduled for September 25-October 3, 2011.

The CAFE Green Flight Challenge competition will be held at the CAFE Foundation Flight Test Center at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California.

Click here for more information.
May 27, 2011
Draft Rules for Sample Return Robot Challenge have been posted for public comment at http://challenge.wpi.edu. The public and potential competitors may provide input on the draft rules until June 17, 2011. After the 17th, the rules will be removed from the website, modified by the judging committee, and then final rules posted on or around June 28, 2011.

The Sample Return Robot Challenge is managed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) of Worcester, Mass. The challenge will demonstrate how a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from varied terrain without human control. This challenge has a prize purse of $1.5 million. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies.
› View NASA Press Release
March 18, 2011
NASA is seeking private and corporate sponsors for Challenges. NASA is looking for companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring the non-profit allied organizations that manage the prize competitions. Those interested in discussing sponsorship opportunities should respond to Opportunity Notice at: http://go.usa.gov/459
› View NASA Press Release

› Click here to read more information about Centennial Challenges!

Questions may be directed to Larry Cooper at Larry.P.Cooper@nasa.gov.