Centennial of Flight

image of Wright flyer

In December 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright, two bicycle mechanics working with no government support, initiated the age of powered flight with their success at Kitty Hawk. NASAs Prize Program honors the spirit of the Wright Brothers and other independent inventors by acknowledging the centennial of the first powered flight in 2003. The NASA Centennial Challenges program also recognizes that the rapid and dramatic progress in aeronautics in the early years of the first century of flight was often driven by prize competitions.

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"If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted."
Sir Francis Bacon
(1561‐1626)

Other Prize Competitions
Click here for links leading to other competitions and related activities external to Centennial Challenges.

Lunar Oxygen Production or MoonROx Challenge

    This challenge expired June 2009, Purse $1M

    In this challenge, teams must generate breathable oxygen from simulated lunar soil. The production of oxygen from materials on the Moon has been a subject of great interest to NASA for many years. Most scenarios for human activity on the Moon involve the use of its natural resources. There is a large amount of oxygen on the Moon, but it is bound up in compounds and extracting it may require large amounts of power and large, massive machinery. The regolith excavation challenge addresses the problem of digging up and moving the material. This challenge seeks novel approaches to oxygen production with systems that are small, lightweight and require small amounts of power. Advancements in this field would enable much more capable human establishments on the Moon and eventually at other destinations in the solar system.

    The California Space Education and Workforce Institute manages this challenge for NASA. You can find out more about the MoonROx challenge at their website: http://moonrox.csewi.org/

Mission Overview

    The Centennial Challenges seek to:
    • Drive progress in aerospace technology of value to NASA's missions
    • Encourage the participation of independent teams, individual inventors, student groups and private companies of all sizes in aerospace research and development
    • Find the most innovative solutions to technical challenges through competition and cooperation