Prize Tweet Collection and Some Speculation

@doug_comstock - NASA Year in Review 2009, 15 highlights include IPP's Spinoffs and Prize winning rockets! Vote for your favorite:

@ad_astra2 - Yay X PRIZE Lab students!] RT @MITNews: How to spur energy storage innovations (an X-prize maybe?):

@fineri - - Suborbital rocket design, many a long night spent on solidworks! good to start building.

@makerfaire - Maker Faire gets sustainability award nomination: We just found out that Maker Faire Bay Area has been nominated ...

@AirshipZ - NASA Green Aviation Workshop Report Published ~ Airship Z-Prize project included on page 18

@lunaci - Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #4 is up! Merry GLXP-mas :)

@unrocket - Going out to far to watch rockets and for xmas bbq and to pick up blue ball.

@lksurley - X PRIZE and Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge mentioned in NASA Year in Review AND Discover lists X PRIZE in Top 100 Stories of 2009.

@soldthemoon - The Science Insider about Obama's decision also says landers and habs go to intl. partners - would reduce NASA interest in GLXP services.

That last one is fun to speculate about. Here's my take on it. The Augustine Committee final report suggested using commercial services such as derivatives of Google Lunar X PRIZE and Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge capabilities in the Flexible Path for some lunar lander components when commercial capabilities have matured enough to enable such components. I could see several scenarios related to the above tweet:

  • NASA is seriously interested in lunar surface work, and is just bringing in international participation to allow more overall achievements in deep space and on the lunar surface. In this case lunar robotics derived from the Google Lunar X PRIZE would still be of great interest to NASA. Also, international partners could still encourage commercial participation in the international landers.
  • NASA is not interested in lunar surface work, and just wants to check off a few boxes (Earth-Moon Lagrange Points, lunar orbit, lunar surface) on the Flexible Path on its way to more distant destinations. International partners are interested in the lunar surface. In this case lunar robotics derived from the Google Lunar X PRIZE wouldn't be of as much interest to NASA. However, commercial lunar robotics and commercial lunar lander components would be of interest to the international partners building the landers and habs. It's important to remember that the Google Lunar X PRIZE is an international competition.
  • NASA is not interested in lunar surface work, and neither are the international partners - or at least not enough to develop astronaut lunar landers. In this case, there is no opportunity for commercial participation in the astronaut lunar lander since it wouldn't be built. However, there still could be enough interest in the lunar surface in NASA and/or in international partner agencies to result in space agency interest in commercial lunar surface robotics, since this would presumably be considerably cheaper than astronaut landers. The work from these robots could result in later increased interest in astronauts on the Moon from the space agencies.
  • NASA is interested in sharing costs with international partners, and is seriously interested in the lunar surface, but the partners aren't interested in the lunar lander role. In this case, we are back to the Augustine Committee Flexible Path recommendation with NASA lunar landers involving commercial components.

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