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NASA Launches $5 Million Cube Quest Challenge

NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) just announced that they will be holding a special competition—The Cube Quest Challenge—which will feature the biggest prize ever—a package worth more than $5 million. This competition is the latest of the Centennial Challenges sponsored by NASA.

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NASA/Image: WorldSweeper

With these contests NASA challenges academic, private and public partnerships to come up with new answers to difficult problems usually with the guarantee of a cash prize for the winning team. Previous challenges have needed a succession of multiple yearly competitions before the entire prize was paid out.

The current contest begins this week as numerous participating teams will compete against each other to create superior communications and propulsion technologies on recently developed CubeSats.

CubeSats are little, comparatively inexpensive satellites that orbit the Earth. CubeSats are thusly named because they are shaped like cubes. They are for the most part approximately four inches in length. They have a weight of three pounds. The main purpose of CubeSats involves releasing “limited to low-bandwidth data communications.”

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The Cube Quest Challenge/Image: NASA

With this Cube Quest Challenge NASA is hoping to discover new technology appropriate for “longer range carry”. They hope to find technology that is able to explore the depths of space and transmit data back to the earth. They are also looking for more advanced propulsion systems that can be used to mobilize them.

The challenges and prizes are separated into three different categories. They include the following:

  • The Deep Space Derby–$3 million to successfully place and maintain a Cubesat in orbit around the moon.
  • The Lunar Derby–$1.5 million to display communication and the durability and stability of CubeSats when they travel over 2.5 million miles from Earth.
  • Ground Tournaments–$500,000 in four different competitions to establish who will be able to go on the debut SLS flight.

Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate concluded: “Prize competitions like this engage the general public and directly contribute to NASA‘s goals while serving as a tool for open innovation.”

NASA Launches $5 Million Cube Quest Challenge

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.