Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA Mars

NASA Setting Up $250,000 Mars Lander Competition 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-it-for-us dept.
coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA this week said it is exploring setting up one of its iconic Centennial Challenge competitions for companies to build a robotic Mars landing spacecraft. NASA said it would expect to have about $250,000 worth of prize money for a robotic spacecraft that could land on the Red Planet, retrieve a sample and return it to orbit."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Setting Up $250,000 Mars Lander Competition

Comments Filter:
  • by Rick in China (2934527) on Friday April 11, 2014 @03:09AM (#46722703)
    That seems like a pittance for an ENORMOUS feat. That's not enough to buy an apartment in a 2nd tier city, and they expect it to encourage a company to be like "Great, 250k, lets put a lot more effort into bringing samples back from MARS."
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      RTFA. The requirements are actually pretty easy -- they're just hoping for some outside the box thinking from amateur rocket guys.
      This is the adult equivalent of the egg drop challenge with points going to originality.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by K. S. Kyosuke (729550)

        The requirements are actually pretty easy

        Really? I'm sorry but there are some hard constraints here. The return launch itself requires a reasonably well controlled vehicle with a delta-V of about 4,5 km/s or so. On Mars, that effectively means inertial guidance, and either a really hefty SRB or an engine with storable liquid propellants. All that reliably working without any pre-launch checks, after spending a year in space already and having been subjected to one landing. If that is not enough , it also mostly means making it dumb and sturdy, whi

        • by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:05AM (#46724173)

          You clearly didn't read the actual challenge [nasa.gov].

          The Challenge would award prizes for successful demonstration of an end-to-end autonomous operation to sequentially accomplish the following tasks: picking up the sample, inserting the sample into a single stage rocket in a horizontal position, erecting the rocket, launching the rocket to an altitude not less than 800m, deploying a sample container with the cache internally sealed and landing the container at less than 6m/s terminal velocity.

          $50,000 will be awarded to the team with the lowest total system mass that completes all tasks.

          The goal is not to get someone to build a Mars lander for $250k. The goal is to get get amateurs to think about innovative ideas for how to solve some of the problems in the hope that some of those ideas will be useful when NASA designs a real lander.

          • I have read it. The problem I have with this is how much it resembles a proposal along the lines of "show us your balsa models so that we could find something useful in them for our F-35 project".
            • You say read it and yet you said that a launch that only needs to reach 800 meters "requires a reasonably well controlled vehicle with a delta-V of about 4,5 km/s or so"? That speed would mean you'd hit the required altitude in a little under 0.2 seconds. There is no possible interpretation of the requirements that would result in that statement.

              the only reason you said that is that you DIDN'T READ THE REQUIREMENTS and you're fucking pathetic at lying to cover it up after the fact.

              • I was talking about the F-35, obviously, not about the balsa model. The "discovery" that both need to have wings won't further the former an inch.
      • We will cloud source it to the internet and come back with a solution.

        Found it.
        We will get Chuck Norris to launch a Australian Pirate Zombie Ninja from a catapult at Mars. which is the perfect candidate because being a Pirate they will want to collect treasure, being a Zombie they will be immune from death, and as a ninja they will be stealthy and fast, the Australian part is because they will know how to boomerang themselves back to earth.
        Flawless where is my $250,000 I have a mortgage to pay off.

    • by ensignyu (417022)

      None of these X-prize style challenges offer anywhere near the R&D cost of even attempting the challenge.

      It's mostly about the prestige -- though I guess people might consider a $10 million challenge more prestigious than a $250,000 one.

      And if organizations started offering $10,000 for a bunch of smaller challenges (that still cost a couple orders of magnitude over $10,000 to develop) I'd imagine the novelty would wear off.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm offering ten bucks for the first person to travel to Alpha Centauri.

      • "It's mostly about the prestige"

        You mean like an unpaid internship?

        • I'd worry more about getting rid of those then the value of X-prize things.

          • Sure, and I guess NASA also doesn't exactly have fat coffers, so I don't blame them for not offering more. But considering the allocation of funds to agencies who spend most of it on fucking up the world and the US, it still seems like some kind of joke. But don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to pick on NASA, I'm sure they mean well and would be more generous if they had a bigger budget.

    • Well, if a TV show thinks they can start a Martian colony then I guess anything's possible.
  • by LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) on Friday April 11, 2014 @03:28AM (#46722795)

    Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

    No self respecting nerd uses Facebook! Who are you trying to reach with this?

  • Here you are:

    http://www.mocpages.com/moc.ph... [mocpages.com]

    Now, cough up.

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Friday April 11, 2014 @04:49AM (#46723179)
    That amount wouldn't even pay for snacks.
    • Perhaps the real money is in the samples .. imagine how much a kilo of martian rock would be worth in the black market .. .. ya know collectors stuff .. couple of hundred mils atleast
  • The Challenge would award prizes for successful demonstration of an end-to-end autonomous operation to sequentially accomplish the following tasks: picking up the sample, inserting the sample into a single stage rocket in a horizontal position, erecting the rocket, launching the rocket to an altitude not less than 800m, deploying a sample container with the cache internally sealed and landing the container at less than 6m/s terminal velocity.

    I wonder why the rocket starts off horizontal. For an actual sa

    • I assume it's far easier to drop the samples into a horizontal tube with an open hatch. You just let gravity magically suck the sample into the hatch. I guess a rocket erector is less failure-prone than some sort of telescopic arm to put samples into an upright rocket. Also, the hatch door will close by itself when the return rocket is horizontal. One less mechanism to worry about, or at least simplify.

      As for the return, I'd assume again we're talking about a capsule the size of a basketball that either cr

    • Only a part of the landing vehicle would launch back. Nothing else makes sense, really - you don't want the extra weight for the return vehicle, and the lander could conceivably serve as a supporting base station during launch (telemetry, additional guidance etc.) So the two issues (the landing position and launch position) are disjoint (only the lander has to land in a mostly upright position). Also, you don't know where the lander is going to land on Mars (it could land on a local slope), so you'd need so
      • by necro81 (917438)

        So the two issues (the landing position and launch position) are disjoint (only the lander has to land in a mostly upright position)

        So the lander - a launch platform - is going to land on the surface of Mars with a long, horizontal rocket laying across it? That was the part that didn't make much sense to me.

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Friday April 11, 2014 @08:43AM (#46724045)
    I mean, you NASA guys got plutonium, right? We'll have to focus the blast somehow but we'll get your rocks into orbit, no problemo.

    .
    • I was thinking of the line from the summary "into orbit." They didn't say which orbit. Mars? Earth? Sun?

      Step 1: Drop Atomic Bomb on Mars.
      Step 2: Collect money when pieces of Mars enter into Mars orbit or Solar orbit.

      I dunno if you could get a nuclear bomb to Mars for under $250,000, so I'm not sure there's a "Step 3: Profit!" here.

  • I would think this is a waste considering they have Project Morpheus http://morpheuslander.jsc.nasa... [nasa.gov] and also both SpaceX https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] and Armadillo https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] already have landers capable of this.
  • They should offer up 250 million to the first American one that can do this. It would be a fraction of the costs of what NASA would pay. And if they give them until say 2020, it would really push it. Heck, I would not be surprised to see ATK make that happen.
  • Maybe I should set up a $100 Enceladus submarine competition. That should speed things up.

    Or maybe let's crowdsource a $250,000 Lunar Base Challenge for NASA?

    The possibilities are endless.

  • by Ranbot (2648297)

    It's not clear to me why NASA wants to retrieve a sample, other than they think it's an interesting technological hurdle. I'm pretty sure it's much easier and cheaper to land whatever instruments you need on the surface. By the time viable exporting from Mars is realistic technology will be so much farther ahead that I doubt the work for this prize will even matter. I'd love be convinced otherwise though...

    For the record I'm a supporter of the space program and scientific research in general, and understand

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

Working...