The Cube Quest Challenge Earlier Announced by NASA was the first in-space competition by the agency which rewards the largest-ever prize purse. Registrations are now open for the competition.
Competitors, apart from getting a chance to win 5 million dollars, also have a chance to participate in technology development and space exploration as well. The winning team’s CubeSat will be Launched by the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft of NASA itself.
Associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, Michael Gazarik, said, “NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge will engage teams in the development of the new technologies that will advance the state of the art of CubeSats and demonstrate their capabilities as viable deep space explorers”
According to Gazarik, this kind of prize competitions engages general public and encourages them to contribute to the space agency’s goals.
According to the reports, in order to participate in the competition, a small satellite must be designed or developed which could aid the space agency whilst carrying out operations in close proximity to or beyond the moon by the participant. The space agency divided the challenge and prize award in three distinct areas: Grand Tournaments, Lunar Derby and Deep Space Derby.
The agency will decide who will get the chance to fly on the first SLS flight in the Grand Tournaments while in Lunar Derby, a satellite will be checked if it has the ability to place a CubeSat in a stable lunar orbit. Finally, in Deep Space Derby, verification of the durability of CubeSat at a distance exceeding 2.5 million miles will be performed by the agency.
The competition plays an important role for the agency and the commercial space sector, according to Eric Eberly, who is the deputy program manager for Centennial Challenges at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.