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$5 Million up For Grabs in New NASA Centennial Challenges

July 15, 2010 —NASA announced three new Centennial Challenges this week, competitions for technological advancements developed by teams working without government funding, with an overall prize pool of $5 million.

The Nano-Satellite Launch Challenge, with a prize of $2 million, is designed to stimulate low-cost launch technology and commercial nano-satellite delivery services. The competition is to place a small satellite into orbit twice a week.

The Night Rover Challenge was created to advance energy storage under extreme space environments. Competitors must demonstrate a solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate in darkness using its own stored energy. The winners will receive $1.5 million.

Finally, the Sample Robot Return Challenge, also with a prize of $1.5 million, requires participants to create a robot that can locate and retrieve geologic samples from wide and varied terrain without human control. NASA hopes this competition will further automatic navigation and manipulator technologies.

NASA is also soliciting proposals for non-profit organizations to manage each competition.

Each competition is open to groups and companies working outside the traditional aircraft industry. The prize money will not be awarded until the technology is successfully demonstrated, unlike the traditional grant system which provides funding for development.

For more information on all of NASAs Centennial Challenges, visit http://www.nasa.gov/challenges.

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