New Prize Challenges in 2010
New Centennial Challenges Announced!

Three new prize challenges were announced on July 13 at the Industry Forum for the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist. These are the first new challenges since 2005.

illustrations of a nano-satellite orbiting the earth, a night rover and robotic arms holding a rock(Left) Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge, (center) Night Rover Challenge, (right) Sample Teturn Robot Challenge

The Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge: to place a small satellite into Earth orbit, twice in one week. The prize purse is $2 million.

Night Rover Challenge: to demonstrate a solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate in darkness using its own stored energy. The prize purse is $1.5 million.

Sample Return Robot Challenge: to demonstrate a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The prize purse is $1.5 million.

› View NASA Press Release

The Centennial Challenges program solicited ideas for new prize topics from all NASA employees and from the general public in 2009. These ideas along with numerous other ideas generated in the previous years of the program were shared with representatives of the Mission Directorates and the Office of Chief Engineer. The topics were selected based on collective agency feedback and an assessment of criteria including:
  • Relevance to NASA, national and global needs
  • Potential to stimulate interest and participation among students
  • Practicality based on funding available and past experience with other competitions
  • Compelling nature in terms of risks, benefits and number of potential participants
  • Advocacy within NASA
As part of the solicitation of new allied organizations, we will request that they propose plans for including participation by students at the university level and also younger students, through parallel student-class competitions or other activities.

Future Growth

The President’s budget request for FY2011 through 2015 includes $10 million per year for Centennial Challenges prize purses so we anticipate further growth in the scope and range of future prize competitions and even greater opportunities for the citizen-inventor to participate in NASA’s research and development.