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NASA TechLeap Challenge Winners Advance to Next Round

A researcher works to assemble a small spacecraft technology payload perched on a wooden tabletop in a ground-based technology facility.
Sara Jennings, chief executive officer of Orion Labs and team lead for the company’s TechLeap project, works on a payload build during a January 2022 site visit to assess the team’s progress.

After receiving an initial $200,000 to begin designing and building technology payloads, all three winners of the NASA TechLeap Autonomous Observation Challenge No. 1 have successfully completed Payload Build Round 1. Their innovations are designed for tasks such as detecting and tracking wildfires, performing quantum computing, and identifying plumes in Earth’s atmosphere. The teams received additional awards of $200,000 each to advance to Payload Build Round 2. Field judges conducted on-site visits in January to review each winner’s progress and provide input. The winning teams – Bronco Space Lab at Cal Poly in Pomona, California; Orion Labs in Nunn, Colorado; and SEAK Lab at Texas A&M University in College Station – are building technologies designed to boost the capabilities of small spacecraft. A second round of site visits is planned for June 2022 in advance of suborbital testing for the technologies, facilitated by Flight Opportunities, part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Interested in TechLeap? Attend the Nighttime Precision Landing Challenge No. 1 Q&A on April 12

While winners of the first challenge make progress, the next TechLeap Prize is now open and accepting applications. The Nighttime Precision Landing Challenge No. 1 invites applicants to submit proposals for sensing systems that can detect hazards from an altitude of 250 meters or higher and process the data in real time to help spacecraft land safely in the dark. Up to three winners may receive awards of up to $650,000 each to build their payloads, as well as the opportunity to test their technology on a suborbital flight at no additional cost.

Attend the NASA TechLeap Nighttime Precision Landing Q&A

April 12, 2022, 1-2 p.m. EDT

Register here for full details and attendance information.