Friday Fun Day #FFD: New Year, New Poll

Update: Poll suggestions so far!

  • What type of eating contest should the GLXP team attempt in 2010?
  • A good poll question about Team Unreasonable Rocket where both available answers are "Paul Breed" (haha)
  • What costume should @pomerantz wear for Halloween? (so he can start preparing)
  • Who would you like to see sent on a one-way trip to the Moon?
  • What launch vehicle will the winning team use?
  • What year will the GLXP be won?
  • What payload will the teams send to the Moon?
  • What type of vehicle will win the prize? (rover, lunar hopper, etc)
Great ideas, keep 'em coming!


Woo hoo! Time for the first Friday Fun Day of 2010.

It is a new year, and some of you may have already noticed that the X PRIZE website got a nice new look yesterday. The Google Lunar X PRIZE site won't be far behind, but the front page definitely needs something shiny on it as we await the redesign!

There is a poll on the front page right now that has received much love: "Which Team do you think will win the Google Lunar X PRIZE?" After 14,500+ votes, we have decided that it is time to retire this poll and start anew. But we need your input in determining what the next poll should be. So...

1) Help us out, GLXP fans! What should our new poll topic be? We are open to all suggestions -- serious and funny -- and the idea is to post the poll ideas in a poll for next week (because we're crazy like that). And just think, your idea could be immortalized on the Google Lunar X PRIZE front page for the foreseeable future. Send us your ideas here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Google Wave.

2) On less-serious side of polling, the German Google Lunar X PRIZE team (The Part Time Scientists) inspired one idea for a poll this week when they announced during a presentation, "Everything is better with bacon" -- even Moon exploration. A grand idea from the Twitterverse emerged in response to this -- a lunar bacon X PRIZE. But what would we name such a delicious prize? Our Twitter fans have come up with the following suggestions so far -- so vote for your favorite or submit your own idea:

By the way -- did you know that the first meal on the Moon included bacon? From NASA's history website, here was the first meal of Apollo 11 on the lunar surface:

The 1st meal on the Moon was 4 bacon squares, 3 sugar cookies, peaches, pineapple-grapefruit drink and coffee.

They got Moon exploration right back in the 1960's!

Conrad Award Scholarships, Brain-Computer Interface Workshop, ISS Formation Flying, Lunar Sample Return, More

@TeamPrometheus SS2S recived the parts we made for the protoshot mark III!

@PeterDiamandis here at MIT X Prize event with my friend Bob Metcalf brainstorming BCI prizes

See many more tweets on the Brain-Computer Interfaces MIT X PRIZE Lab workshop at #bcixprize

@progautoxp If you will be @ #NAIAS next week stop by the #PIAXP booth. Learn more about the competition & meet qualified teams. Drive the cars too! #FB

@spacecom Scaled Composites’ Peter Siebold Wins Iven C.Kincheloe Award: Peter Siebold (Photo: Scaled Composites) Cal Poly gr...

@NASA_Ames DARPA looks to use SPHERES (formation flying test on ISS) for crowdsource experiment

The previous tweet is on a Wired Danger Room article. From DARPA's RFI linked in the article:

DARPA seeks an open-innovation approach to the development of algorithms for the control of the Synchronized Position, Hold, Engage, and Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) that operate inside the International Space Station. ... DARPA is interested in novel, out-of-the-box ideas for involving vast groups of people in SPHERES algorithm and software development, and potentially operations. Such concepts may involve, for instance, competitions, prize awards, massively-distributed collaborative development, viral campaigns, prediction markets, new ventures ...

An Excellent Scholarship Opportunity for Spirit of Innovation Awards Participants - Spirit of Innovation Awards blog

MAKE visits MicroRAX HQ - Make blog - Beam power team LaserMotive is part of the story here.

Secor Strategies Sponsors & Helps Coordinate NASA Astronuat Glove Contest - Secor Strategies blog

Notional Next Rocket... - Unreasonable Rocket

Google Lunar X PRIZE teams will want to keep an eye on this as the 3rd New Frontiers mission is selected:

New Frontiers Candidates Selected - Future Planetary Exploration blog - One of the candidates is a lunar sample return mission.
More on MoonRise New Frontiers Proposal - Future Planetary Exploration blog
Moon Mission In Running For Next Big Space Venture - Moon Daily

A New Look and Feel for

Late last night, our web production team rolled out a new design for the Foundation's main webpage, A screen capture of the new site is at right.

Hopefully you'll agree that this site has a bit more, shall we say, savoir faire, than the old version. (Note for a really fun time, check out this super ancient X PRIZE Foundation website from back in the mid 90s. We couldn't even afford to capitalize the RIZE in PRIZE back then!). With any luck, this new design will give first-time visitors a more clear impression of who we are and what we do within their first few moments on the webpage. It should also allow old friends and longtime fans to more quickly identify the latest and greatest material, including blogs, news stories, videos, and articles about related organizations and people. And of course, it wouldn't be a good non-profit website if it didn't have a nice, eye-grabbing "donate" button at the top of the page (hint, hint).

Let us know what you think about the new page!

End of 2009 Lovin' for the Space Entrepreneurs

Happy New Year, Launch Pad readers! I hope that all of you (at least, all of you who follow the same calendar system as I do) closed out 2009 and the 200*s in style. I managed to find a pretty good way to do so: I got married to my lovely wife on December 29th.

Although I'm inclined to say that my fin-de-d├ęcennie was the best one possible (especially in any forum my wife can read!), I have to admit, the burgeoning NewSpace community--and the cadre of Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge teams in particular--did a pretty good job of it, too!

AvWeek Cover 1/4/10

To begin with, Aviation Week and Space Technology, the highly respected space publication more commonly referred to as AvWeek, named "the Space Entrepreneur" as its person of the year for 2009. Dave Masten, the CEO of Masten Space Systems garnered a glamour shot on the cover of the magazine, posing with Xoie, the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge Level Two winning rocket. The article itself focuses primarily on Masten Space Systems, with additional attention for other companies in the NewSpace field such as Virgin Galactic, XCOR, and SpaceX.

As the article notes:

Collectively, they are in the vanguard of a new industry, poised to transform how humans venture into space in ways that most observers can scarcely imagine today. Space entrepreneurs had a big influence on aerospace in 2009, although it does not begin to compare with the impact they are likely to have in years to come. That is why Aviation Week chose this intrepid group of engineers and visionaries as the 2009 Person of the Year.

We'll raise a glass of leftover New Year's champagne to that!

As if that weren't enough, the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge is also performing quite well on a public poll being conducted by NASA in order to identify the top NASA story of 2009. In fact, while I was writing this post, the challenge (identified in the poll as "Lithe Lunar Landers Launch, X Prize Winners Take Home Cash") moved into first place--meaning that the voters in the poll have ranked this as the most important NASA-related story of the year! That's right, it's beating out the discovery of water on the Moon, the final repair of Hubble, the launch of Ares 1-X, the appointment of a new NASA Administrator, the naming of the final Shuttle crew, the Augustine report, the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, et cetera. At least for now.

Voting is still open for an unspecified amount of time. You can vote once per day. Make your voice heard.

Of course, given what we've learned from NASA this year, the final count may not matter all that much. Indeed, if recent history holds true, you can bet on "Tranquility selected as the name for the new Space Station Node" is the sure fire winner!

So, kudos to all you space entrepreneurs for some well deserved accolades at the end of 2009. But let's not rest on our laurels. Onwards and upwards!

Space Prize Roundup - January 2, 2010

@SpaceFellowship: N-Prize Team 'Anahera Tere' Talk to the Space Fellowship

There will be an X PRIZE Lab workshop at MIT on January 7-8 on Brain-Computer Interfaces (link from @ad_astra2).

Latest Masten Update - Selenian Boondocks

2009 Greater Tehachapi economy - Tehachapi News - Wind farms, hotels, local shops and services, heavy industry - and yes, with nearby Mojave, Edwards, and Dryden - space.

Rising to First Place -- Eureka featured in winning Aviation Week photo contest entry - Up Ship!

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #5 - Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration

Singularity U Day 2: After Hours with Peter Diamandis - My Singularity

Briefs: Commercial spaceflight; Lindbergh Prize; - RLV News

Happy New Year! - The Space Elevator Blog

University Group collaborates on Lunar Lander Design - Team FREDNET at the Google Lunar X PRIZE Teams page

@synergymoon: is pleased to announce 2 new Partnering Organisations for 2010: Invento Media Group [...

Prizes and the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference ( NSRC)

I just realized that the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) includes a student suborbital experiment contest with cash prizes for University of Colorado and some Space Grant Consortium students. Here's the flyer (PDF).

There are some student suborbital experiment proposal presentations (PDF) on the schedule for the conference. I assume these are competitors in the contest.

One of the talks on Friday from Nicole Jordan of the X PRIZE Foundation and Erika Wagner of the MIT XPRIZE Lab is Prizes as a Tool for Engaging Researchers and Students:

This paper will describe the ways that Incentive Prizes can be used to attract high quality payloads for suborbital research and education missions (REM).

Several Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge competitors are featured:

Improving Mission Flexibility with the Hippogriff Propulsion Module (PDF) - Bob Steinke of SpeedUp.

Science When Flight Rate and Turn Time Don't Matter (PDF) - Michael Mealing of Masten Space Systems

Armadillo Aerospace and Purdue University Student Experiment Program (PDF)

Here's an idea for another student competition: ZERORobotics: a Student Competition Aboard the International Space Station (PDF)