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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Robotic Moon Excavation Teams Compete For NASA Prize

NASA's Regolith Excavation Challenge is scheduled for Aug. 2-3, 2008, on the campus of the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The competition requires teams to build a roving excavator that can autonomously navigate, excavate, and transfer approximately 330 pounds of simulated lunar regolith, or lunar soil, into a collector bin within 30 minutes. The total prize purse is $750,000 with a first prize of $500,000.

NASA is looking for new ideas for excavation techniques that do not require excessively heavy machines or large amounts of power. Excavating lunar regolith will be an important part of any construction projects or processing of natural resources on the moon. The California Space Education and Workforce Institute in Santa Maria, Calif., manages the challenge.

Twenty-five teams have registered for the 2008 event. Most of the teams are from the private sector, including some from the toy and information technology industries. Four of the teams are affiliated with universities.

The prize program, known as Centennial Challenges, began in 2005 in recognition of the centennial of powered flight. In keeping with the spirit of the Wright brothers and other American innovators, the Centennial Challenge prizes are offered to independent inventors who work without government support, including small businesses, student groups and

The Regolith Excavation Challenge is one of seven current NASA technology prize competitions. NASA provides the prize money for the competitions, while each is managed by an independent organization. The competitions are targeted at a range of technical challenges that support
NASA's missions in aeronautics and space. The goal is to encourage novel solutions from non-traditional sources. NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program Office in Washington manages the program.

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