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Centennial Challenges

From Academic Kids

The Centennial Challenges are NASA inducement prize contests for non-government-funded technological achievements by American teams.

Contents

Challenges

The Challenges have not been finalized. Candidates include:

Challenges will be organized into one of four categories: [1] (http://exploration.nasa.gov/centennialchallenge/cc_challenges.html)

  • Flagship Challenges: "To encourage major private space missions," these are expected to be multi-million dollar prizes for more major goals, such as robotic lunar landers or human orbital spaceflight.
  • Keystone Challenges: "To address technology priorities"
  • Alliance Challenges: "To leverage partnerships," contests organized in collaboration with non-government partners
  • Quest Challenges: "To promote science, technology, engineering and math outreach"

On March 23, 2005, NASA announced its first challenges, which are Alliance Challenges in collaboration with the Spaceward Foundation (http://www.spaceward.org/). One contest is the Tether Challenge, for building the sort of super-strong tether needed to make a space elevator feasible. The other is the Beam Power Challenge, for creating a wirelessly-powered ribbon-climbing robot capable of lifting as large a payload as possible within a limited timeframe. The initial set of challenges in 2005 will award $50K to the winners of each contest. A second set of challenges in 2006 will award first, second, and third place prizes worth $100K, $40K, and $10K.

NASA will likely announce further challenges.

Origin

The Centennial Challenges are based on a long history of technology prize contests, including the Longitude prize (won by John Harrison), the Orteig Prize (won by Charles Lindbergh), the Ansari X Prize (won by Scaled Composites), and the DARPA Grand Challenge. A key advantage of prizes over traditional grants is that money is only paid when the goal is achieved. A 1999 National Academy of Engineering committee report[2] (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/9724.html) recommended that "Congress encourage federal agencies to experiment more extensively with inducement prize contests in science and technology". A 2003 NASA Space Architect study, assisted by the X PRIZE Foundation, led to the establishment of the Centennial Challenges. The prize contests were named "Centennial" in honor of the 100 years since the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903.

Budget

For Financial Year 2004, each prize will be $250,000 or less.

The Financial Year 2005 budget includes $20 million for Centennial Challenges. Prizes larger than $250,000 will be offered if legislation (2005 NASA Authorization Act) allows them.

See also

External links

Official (NASA)

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