Mars One – First Private Mars Mission in 2018 on @IndieGoGo

“The Mars One foundation will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. This Indiegogo campaign will help us jumpstart the first major step in our project – a private Mars Lander and Satellite mission in 2018. Your participation will help fund the 2018 mission and above all, show our partners & sponsors that the world is ready for this to happen. Mars One gives you the opportunity to participate in this historic project. This can be your mission to Mars!

The Next Giant Leap for Mankind

Human settlement of Mars is literally the next giant leap for mankind. No human has ever landed on Mars. This is a lifelong dream for the Mars One team, all our advisers and ambassadors, astronaut applicants and millions of you across the world. Our mission is enabling scientists, adventurists, and explorers to live this dream. We’re breaking down barriers to allow everyone, including you, to participate in this historic event.

Those who observed Neil Armstrong land on the Moon all those years ago still remember every detail – where they were, who they were with and how they felt. As with the Apollo Moon landings, a human mission to Mars will inspire generations to believe everything is possible and anything can be achieved.



Our generation can experience something at least equally amazing. Not only will the mission be an amazing inspiration, science and understanding of space and the stars will be greatly advanced. This private 2018 mission will be the first major step toward landing the first men and women on Mars.

While complex, Mars One has developed a realistic plan to establish a permanent settlement on Mars. Much of what was learned from Skylab, Mir and the International Space Station has resulted in vital data, experiences with systems and related know-how — all of which are applicable to living on Mars. Our plan is built upon existing technologies available from proven suppliers. All equipment will be developed by industry leaders in the private space industry and integrated in established facilities.




A Groundbreaking Plan

In this Indiegogo campaign, we give you the opportunity to contribute to the first ever private mission to Mars. It will be the the first step in establishing a human outpost on the Red Planet. This campaign will pay for the mission concept studies for our first unmanned mission in 2018, which will demonstrate hardware for the human mission in 2025.

In May 2018, a private lander and communications satellite will be launched from Earth to Mars. The main goal of this demonstration mission is to provide a proof of concept for several essential technologies for a human mission.

The Mars lander will be built by aerospace industry leader Lockheed Martin. The lander design is based on the successful Mars lander used in the 2007 NASA Phoenix mission. Lockheed Martin has a distinct legacy of participating in nearly every NASA mission to Mars. For the Phoenix mission, the company designed, built, tested and operated the lander for NASA.

A communications satellite, built by Surrey Satellite Technology LTD (SSTL), will provide a high bandwidth communications system in a Mars synchronous orbit and will be used to relay data and a live video feed from the lander on the surface of Mars back to Earth.

This 2018 mission will be the first in preparation for human landing. The first Mars One crew is scheduled to land in 2025, with additional crew landing every two years. Before that, Mars One will have established a habitable, sustainable outpost via multiple missions scheduled between 2018 and 2022.

This will be the first private mission to another planet and it will change the way we look upon space exploration. WE CAN AND SHOULD DO IT TOGETHER!

This project seems to me to be the only way to fulfill dreams of mankind’s expansion into space.
Prof. Gerard ‘t Hooft (The Netherlands), Nobel Prize winning Theoretical Physicist
The Mars One base can be built at low risk with the scientific and engineering data collected, and lessons learned from the many robotic missions conducted by both NASA and ESA that I have been part of. I am eager to contribute to the effort to develop a multi-planetary human society.
Terry Gamber (USA), worked on the lander designs for the Viking mission
Mars One represents a chance to establish a new home for humanity outside the cradle of the Earth. As such, it may be one of the most important steps we could take. The sort of home that Mars might become, however, will depend strongly on how we approach its challenges—and opportunities. I am pleased to help the Mars One team in dealing with both.
Prof. John D. Rummel, PhD (USA), Director of East Carolina University’s (ECU’s) Institute for Coastal Science and Policy Chairman of the COSPAR Panel on Planetary Protection
I joined the Mars One advisory board because I plan to retire on Mars… but not too soon! I want to help send some healthy settlers on ahead to get the place ready for me.
Esther Dyson (USA), angel investor and chairman of EDventure Holdings
If no one tries, no one will succeed. I’m proud to do what I can to help.
Dr. Robert Zubrin (USA), President of Pioneer Astronautics and founder and President of the Mars Society
Mars is not just a destination but rather our destiny in terms of human exploration and settlement off Earth.
James W. Rice, PhD (USA), Geologist and co-investigator on the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers
To be part of this Advisory Team for Mars One is both an honour and a challenge. I think this is an exciting and cutting edge project that will impact our society and the way we view the world. History has been made when the impossible is made possible and where the struggle is the impetus to change.
Prof. Raye Kass, PhD (Canada), Professor of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University, Montreal
I am happy to support the Mars One effort. Mars is the first test of how humans will expand beyond the Earth.
Christopher P. McKay, PhD (USA), Planetary Scientist with the Space Science Division of NASA Ames

Become Involved in our Human Mission to Mars

This is not the mission of one organization or one country. Our 2018 mission will be the foundation of humankind’s mission to Mars. Mars One will involve you in as many ways as possible, starting with perks you’ll receive in return for your contribution, including:

  • Access to summaries of the mission concept studies
  • Your message printed on the landing parachute
  • An invitation to the 2018 launch party

The earnings from this Indiegogo campaign will go to the Mission Concept Studies by Lockheed Martin and SSTL for the 2018 mission. Achieving the goals of this campaign provides a major step forward in private space exploration and other essential benefits, including:

  • Providing the funding to successfully design a roadmap for the first private mission to Mars in 2018.
  • Developing the customized design of the NASA Phoenix platform that includes all Mars One experiments.
  • Drawing attention from potential large sponsors and partners to participate in our mission.
  • And, last but not least, announcing to the world we will achieve our mission objectives!

The Perks




Mars Orbit Selfie



Receive a Selfie from Mars Orbit. You upload your favorite picture and we’ll take a photograph of that image on the communication satellite, with Mars Orbit as the background. First come, first serve, so get this perk quickly!

Your Selfie will be sent to you to show off, whether you print it for your home or office or upload it to Facebook, Google+, VK or any other social networking site. Makes an amazing gift for any space enthusiasts you know. You will receive a certificate of participation.”



Asteroid-Hunting Satellite Returns From Dead

Like a Phoenix, NASA’s dead WISE satellitehas been reborn from its own figurative ashes.

WISE was the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. It launched in 2009 to map the universe in infrared light. Unfortunately, it ran out of coolant in 2011 and went into hibernation.

But even without coolant, WISE’s infrared eyes are perfect for spotting dim rocks that radiate heat, not light. Such as asteroids. Especially asteroids with Earth’s name on them.

So WISE has been resurrected as NEOWISE. Its new prefix refers to Near-Earth objects. And the satellite has just filed its first pictures in its new incarnation.

If NEOWISE finds potentially dangerous space rocks, we have a chance to try to push them off course.

NEOWISE is also looking for asteroids that astronauts could visit. President Obama wants us to commit to a human visit to an asteroid by 2025. And the repurposing of the satellite could help make reaching an asteroid a bit less of a rocky road.

—Clara Moskowitz


Federal Ideation Programs: Challenges and Best Practices. Features @DOT IdeaHub, @TSA IdeaFactory, etc…

Ideation platforms are modern tools predicated on an old adage, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Though that proverb has been widely accepted, collecting and synthesizing the knowledge of “all of us” into actionable next steps has been a daunting task. The rewards for doing so, however, are potentially very high, especially for large organizations in both the private and public sector. It is no surprise that ideation platforms are so heavily used online—within the past few years alone, software developers have created numerous kinds of ideation tools that allow large organizations, including government agencies, to harness the collective knowledge within their organization.

In a basic sense, ideation platforms can be understood as a niche within the crowdsourcing universe. Crowdsourcing can refer to any task divided up and distributed to a large group, while ideation refers specifically to posing questions or concerns for collecting, synthesizing, analyzing, or prioritizing ideas and pointing to next steps.

Many ideation tools have been approved for use by federal government agencies, and more than a few agencies have created their own ideation tools to serve their specific needs. Included in this report are examples of how four federal agencies are using off-the-shelf tools and proprietary applications to harness the knowledge of crowds to help the agencies fulfill their mission.

In addition to the four case studies, Professor Lee presents strategies and tactics that can help agencies develop and implement successful ideation programs. To help readers understand ideation programs, the report outlines three distinct phases: idea generation, evaluation and selection, and implementation. The report concludes with a series of seven recommendations to sustain a federal ideation program, including institutionalizing the activity and creating a lasting organizational unit.

Submit Ideas for NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program as an Allied Organization

Synopsis – Dec 19, 2013

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNH14STMD001L

Posted Date: Dec 19, 2013

FedBizOpps Posted Date: Dec 19, 2013

Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

Original Response Date: Dec 01, 2014

Current Response Date: Dec 01, 2014

Classification Code: A — Research and Development

NAICS Code: 541712

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Headquarters Acquisition Branch, Code 210.H, Greenbelt, MD 20771



This Opportunity Notice (hereinafter “NOTICE”) is for informational/planning purposes only and the Government will not pay for the information received. This NOTICE is NOT to be construed as a commitment by the government to enter into any agreement or other obligation or to conduct a prize competition.

This NOTICE is issued in accordance with the NASA Prize Authority, 51 U.S.C. S 20144.

I. INTRODUCTION New concepts for NASA prize competitions are sought for the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Centennial Challenges Program, NASA’s flagship program for technology prize competitions. NASA anticipates the ability in 2015 and beyond, to initiate several new technology prize competitions (hereinafter “Challenges”). Through this NOTICE NASA seeks to identify potential partner organizations (hereinafter “Allied Organizations”) and concepts for Challenge competitions they are interested in conducting (Challenge Concept).

NASA will provide the monetary prize purse that is awarded to competition winners. NASA will not provide any funds or cost reimbursement to an Allied Organization for their work on a Challenge. Allied Organizations may administer a Challenge with their own funding or they may acquire the funding from other parties.

Organizations interested in becoming an Allied Organization should submit a response describing the Challenge Concept that they wish to pursue with NASA. Details on the essential capabilities of Allied Organizations and desired characteristics of Challenge Concepts are provided in Section V and Section VI of this NOTICE respectively. A complete submission as detailed in Section VIII is required for each Challenge Concept.

NASA will only consider submissions that include both 1) a Challenge Concept and 2) institutional capability and interest in being an Allied Organization.

Based upon a review of the capabilities of the proposed Allied Organization and the merit of the proposed Challenge Concept, NASA may consider partnerships with several proposed Allied Organizations to pursue their proposed Challenges. Participation in a Challenge as an Allied Organization will be contingent upon selection by NASA and negotiation of an appropriate Nonreimbursable Space Act Agreement between NASA and the proposer.

Respondents acknowledge that submitting a Challenge Concept in response to this NOTICE does not preclude NASA from using such concept, or similar concepts, in a future Challenge hosted by another Allied Organization.


Under 51 U.S.C. S 20144, NASA is only allowed to partner with private, domestic, U.S. non-profit organizations as Allied Organizations for Challenges of the type described by this Notice. Organizations of any type, and individuals, may collaborate and submit a joint response describing their support of a designated private, domestic, U.S. non-profit organization that would lead the Challenge effort as the Allied Organization.

Neither Allied Organizations, their collaborators, nor employees, associates nor students associated with the proposing institutions will be eligible to win a prize funded by NASA in a Challenge that they manage. Allied Organizations, collaborators, and their officers and employees may not have a financial or other interest in any teams that compete in any Challenge they manage.


A Nonreimbursable Space Act Agreement (SAA) will specify the contributions and responsibilities of NASA and the Allied Organization for further development of a specific Challenge Concept.

The agreement will address intellectual property rights, concurrence on rules, team agreements, media rights, insurance, registration fees and eligibility, term, and related areas as well as other requirements imposed by 51 U.S.C. S 20144 and applicable law. NASA reserves the right to select for SAA negotiations all, some, or none of the responses submitted to this NOTICE, and in the event no responses are selected, NASA reserves the right to post an additional NOTICE or NOTICES with respect to new Challenges. Respondents will be responsible for funding their own activities associated with responding to this NOTICE, as well as further developing and conducting a Challenge. Allied Organizations may collect reasonable registration fees from competitors but the use of registration fees as a primary means to cover Challenge administration costs is discouraged.

For additional information regarding Space Act Agreements, see NASA Policy Directive 1050.1 “Authority to Enter into Space Act Agreements” ( ).


The NASA Centennial Challenges Program was established to conduct prize competitions to stimulate innovation in basic and applied research, technology development, and prototype demonstration that have the potential for application to the performance of the space and aeronautical activities of NASA. Those competing for the NASA monetary prizes can be individuals, independent teams, student groups, research organizations or private companies.

The Program seeks unconventional solutions from non-traditional sources and, therefore may lead to identifying new talent and stimulating the creation of new businesses. Competitors retain ownership of their intellectual property.

To be eligible to win a NASA Centennial Challenge prize, an individual or entity– (1) shall have registered to participate in the competition pursuant to any rules promulgated by NASA; (2) shall have complied with all the rules of the competition and requirements of applicable law; (3) in the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States; and (4) shall not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment.

The Centennial Challenges in the past have typically required several annual competitions to occur before the total prize purses have been claimed. Competitions have been conducted in a first-to-demonstrate format and in a head-to-head contest format. The competition events, especially in the head-to-head contest format, have typically involved public spectators, televised or webcasted coverage and are utilized as high-visibility opportunities for public outreach. Additional information can be found at


Allied Organizations will be responsible for some, or all, of the following during the formulation and execution phases:

* Challenge planning

* Challenge formulation and execution funding

* Competitor recruitment and registration

* Challenge administration and execution

* Challenge marketing and publicity


NASA is seeking ideas for technology demonstration competitions that address major issues leading to new aerospace capabilities. Competitions will involve technology development and prototype demonstrations. This NOTICE is for formulation of new prize competitions with prize purses up to $10M. Solution to the challenge should be achievable within a 10-year time frame and motivate a substantial number of competitors. Large prize and long term challenges may be submitted as phased competitions with lower value and short time frames. Technology advancement is a key requirement; technology advancements in any area that improves NASA’s ability to perform future missions will be an important consideration. However, not all technology advancement efforts fit well under the construct of a prize competition. The following are the characteristics of an ideal Challenge Concept for the Centennial Challenges Program:

1) Demonstrates a new capability that addresses a NASA technical challenge included in the Space Technology Roadmaps [ ] or aligns with the NASA aeronautics research portfolio ( ), 2) Has future application beyond potential NASA missions, including both aerospace and non-aerospace applications. 3) Achieves a first-time accomplishment that establishes the existence of a solution to a well-defined problem, and opens a potential new market. 4) Does not replicate work developed under current or past grant or contract activities, or private sector investments. The challenge should involve the type of activity that is not easily achieved through grant or contract, such as efforts that will require successive design attempts to achieve the desired capabilities. 5) Is open to many possible solutions. 6) Creates an exciting opportunity for potential competitors and attracts a diverse set of non-traditional aerospace players and/or non-traditional competitor partnerships. 7) Is easy to objectively determine the winner with the resulting achievement of high value relative to the prize value. 8) Captures public attention with a competition environment appealing to media coverage and public engagement.

One area of particular interest is technology advancement Challenges that addresses the Asteroid Grand Challenge ( Under this NOTICE NASA is not seeking ideas that are primarily for educational or for public engagement purposes.


Submissions will be judged based upon the Challenge Concept and Team Capability and as described below.

A. Concepts will be judged on the degree of alignment of the Challenge Concept to the eight characteristics of an ideal solution as provided in Section VI, and compliance with the $10M prize limit and 10 year duration limit. B. Team Capability Capabilities of the proposed Allied Organization and team partners will be judged on 1) experience of the organization and team partners in similar or analogous activities that demonstrate competence, integrity, commitment to safety, and ability to work cooperatively in partnering arrangements and 2) the capability administer the proposed Challenge and competition events including the ability to: a) formulate and finalize competition rules, judging criteria, and competition plans in consultation with NASA and with appropriate public comment. b) access technical expertise in the area of the Challenge and select qualified and impartial judges. c) access funds and other resources required to successfully execute Challenge requirements. d) secure appropriate competition venues and supporting equipment. e) publicize and promote the goals of the proposed Challenge through creative use of public media including websites.

A selection, if any, will be in NASA’s sole discretion.


Responses to this NOTICE should be prepared in two sections. The Challenge Concept section should be no more than 5 pages in length. The Team Capability section should be no more than 15 pages (not including any letters of intent/interest from potential sponsoring or partner organizations). A page is defined as one (1) sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches using a minimum of 12-point font size for text and 8-point for graphs. Responses may be made available for public review and should not include proprietary information. Submitted information will be shared within NASA and with contractor personnel associated with the NASA Centennial Challenges Program.

The response shall consist of:

Page 1: Cover page including:

– Name of the Centennial Challenge addressed by proposal. – Date of submission. – Name of Lead Organization. – Business mailing address and phone number of organization. – Web site of organization (if applicable). – Name, business mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of primary officer of the organization having authority to enter into a Space Act Agreement with NASA – Name, business mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of organization’s point-of-contact for the proposal (if different from primary officer). – Name of Team organization(s) (if a joint proposal). – Business mailing address and phone number of Team organization(s). – Web site of Team organization(s) (if applicable). – Name, business mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of primary officer of the Team organizations having authority to enter into an Agreement with the Lead Organization

Page 2-6: Section 1 – Challenge Concept: Explain your Challenge Concept by addressing these questions:

A. What’s the Challenge Concept? In two sentences or less provide the high-level objective for what the challenge would seek to demonstrate and outcome to be achieved.

B. Why should NASA sponsor this challenge?

1. What capability would be developed or what NASA Aeronautics or Space Technology Roadmap problem would be solved that would be of benefit to NASA? Why is this important?

2. Who are the NASA and non-NASA stakeholders that would have interest in the outcome of this challenge?

3. What could be the benefit to other government users or the U.S private sector? Is there a potential for commercial market utilization? What is the potential for new markets created by solution of the challenge problem?

4. What, if any, current national/international efforts are going on that are directly related? Is the challenge connected to or supportive of any other existing programs or efforts by NASA, the US government or its partner organizations?

5. Describe the current state-of-the-art capability in the problem area and the improvement in capability that is required or desired in order to achieve a viable new capability. Describe multiple potential technology or approach solutions to the problem. What would be a meaningful technical advancement? Describe why the problem is more suited towards a challenge as opposed to a contract or grant call.

6. Describe the pool of potential competitors that might be attracted to the competition, especially focus on non-traditional aerospace participants (those that typically do not respond to a NASA contract or grants call), and partnerships.

7. Describe how the objective goals of the challenge would be measured. Describe the challenge event itself and how open it would be for objective observation of winners. Also describe the value proposition, or relative value of the final achievement compared to the prize purse offered.

8. Describe the public appeal of the challenge. Describe the expected media interest and media accessibility (visual, audio, etc.) for the actual challenge event.

C. What would the challenge competition look like?

1. Would this be held as a head-to-head competition or a first to demonstrate competition?

2. Would the competition need to be phased (different levels of prizes) or would there be only one phase?

3. What facility capabilities would be needed? Would NASA conduct the challenge competition or would NASA partner with a nonprofit organization?

4. What parameters would need to be measured and how would they be measured?

5. What prize purse is needed to attract a significant number (>10) of participants? How would you determine if this is sufficient?

6. What prize purse should be offered to the winner?

Page 7-21: Section 2 – Team Capabilities Briefly describe your organization(s), including history, primary activities, interests, capabilities, and financial and personnel resources. Include experience of the organization(s) that is similar or analogous to the proposed Challenge development and administration, and that demonstrates competence, integrity, commitment to safety and ability to work cooperatively in partnering arrangements as contemplated by the Notice. Provide an organization chart identifying key personnel to the proposed effort. Provide as supporting documentation (not counted in page count) the relevant experience of key individuals. Identify the person with primary responsibility for development of the Challenge and the anticipated level of effort. Describe your organization’s interest in the Challenge that you are proposing to develop and your reasons for wanting to manage it.

Describe your approach to formulating the Challenge including:

a. development of the draft rules and concept of operations for the Challenge competition. b. plans to encourage the participation of individuals, groups, students, and businesses, especially those outside the traditional aerospace industry and those from minority and under-represented communities so as to attract a diverse field of competitors with wide geographic distribution. Any inherent limitations on the number of potential competitors. c. concepts for judging criteria, and your approach to developing competition plans, the areas of technical expertise you will need for the Challenge, how you will access that expertise, and your approach for identifying and selecting judges. d. use of public media including websites, social networking tools, and media coverage prior to, during, and after the competition reporting competition results to NASA and to the public. e. Formulation phase timeline of key milestone referenced to the start of the Space Act Agreement.

Describe the financial resources that your organization has or proposes to obtain through sponsorships or in-kind contributions to conduct this proposed Challenge.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS All responses to this NOTICE, must be submitted in a single PDF file as an attachment to an electronic mail message to no later than 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, December 21, 2013. Paper and FAX submissions will not be reviewed or considered.

GENERAL INFORMATION After the review and selection process NASA will notify proposers of the results. This is generally a few months after submissions are received. After the completion of the evaluation and selection process, as appropriate, NASA will begin negotiations with selected organizations to discuss and negotiate the terms and conditions of a Nonreimbursable SAA. All work, as required, will commence after the parties agree on and execute the SAA. This typically takes 2-3 months after selection.

IV. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The point of contact is Dr. Larry Cooper, Program Executive, Centennial Challenges Program, NASA Headquarters 300 E Street SW, Washington DC 20546-0001. Questions regarding this NOTICE should be directed to Dr. Larry Cooper, Program Executive for Centennial Challenges, Space Technology Mission Directorate; For further information on the NASA Centennial Challenges Program see: .

Point of Contact

Name: Dr Larry P Cooper

Title: Program Executive for Centennial Challenges

Phone: 202-358-1531

Fax: 202-358-3223



The Lunar X Prize Heats Up

A few teams have dropped out of the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, but many more are preparing for 2015 launch dates to send their landers to the moon.

Two years remain. The Google Lunar X Prize, inaugurated in 2007, challenges private companies to put a lander on the moon, maneuver on the lunar surface, and send back messages to Earth. The contest includes a $30 million prize, but the deed must be done by December 31, 2015. Today the X Prize Foundation announced that five teams are pulling out of the race to the moon. So, with so little time remaining, is any one team on track to win the prize?

There are still 18 teams in the running, and X Prize says that several of them have been making good progress toward the first private moon landing. Earlier this month Moon Express, a private company headquartered at the NASA Ames Research Park in Mountain View, Calif., unveiled its lunar lander, which will run on solar power and hydrogen peroxide-based fuel. They have already successfully demonstrated their software control system using NASA’s test platform. X Prize says that it can’t share the details of scheduled launches, but half the teams have shared their launch plans for 2015.

And though five teams have dropped out of the running, that doesn’t mean they’ve left the private space industry. In fact, some are still contributing to Lunar X Prize projects. California-based team Phoenicia, one of the last teams to enter the race, decided their efforts were better spent assisting other teams with launching their crafts into space. They’ll be helping their former competitor, the Penn State Lunar Lion Team, which have already reserved space on the payload delivery rack that was initially developed for Phoenicia’s X Prize attempt.

Others might be leaving the moon race, but they are using their tech to take on other projects in the space industry, says Lunar X Prize senior director Alexandra Hall. “I don’t really see this as a downer, actually,” Hall says. “One of the key goals is to stimulate the new space economy. That’s not just about landing on the moon. It’s about all facets: the technology and the supply chain.”

Hall says that another team to drop out of the competition, Team ARCA (which also competed for the Ansari X Prize to build a reusable manned spacecraft), have used their technology development to create a space industry in Romania. “They recently won a contract to test parachutes for the next Mars mission. They’ve become a force to be reckoned with,” she says. ARCA will be working with the European Space Agency to perfect the parachutes for ESA’s ExoMars 2016 mission.

Two other teams are leaving the competition to develop their technology for Earth-based initiatives. Team Selenokhod, based in Moscow, have already adapted their image-processing and navigation systems for use in warehouse-stacking vehicles. And the Baltimore-based Jurban Team withdrew from the race to enter another X Prize challenge: They will try to build a tricorder.

The fact that new technologies applicable on Earth as well as in space have already come out of the race to the moon means the prize competition is beginning to be a success. Many of today’s key technologies came out of NASA research and just found their way into society afterward. X Prize Foundation Founder Peter Diamandis, the winner of PopMech’s 2013 Breakthrough Leadership Award, talked to us earlier this year about how X Prize wants to encourage “intelligent risk-taking” in pursuit of a defined goal like visiting the moon. And even teams that don’t win the prize could stumble upon breakthrough technologies.

The Lunar X Prize will become even more heated in the next few months. For one thing, launch schedules need to be locked down about 18 months ahead of the 2015 prize deadline. And not all the remaining competitors will make it to the end. There were 26 teams still in contention for the Ansari X Prize when it was won—but by the final year only two were making headlines.

“By the time we get to 2015 I don’t think we’ll have 18 teams with launch contracts,” Hall says. “What’s fascinating right now is that it isn’t obvious who will win. There are many permutations and combinations with how this can end up.”


White House Blog: Continued Progress, Engaging Citizen Solvers through #Prizes

Posted by Cristin Dorgelo on December 17, 2013 at 09:46 AM EST
Today OSTP released its second annual comprehensive report detailing the use of prizes and competitions by Federal agencies to spur innovation and solve Grand Challenges. Those efforts have expanded in the last two years under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which granted all Federal agencies the authority to conduct prize competitions to spur innovation, solve tough problems, and advance their core missions.

This year’s report details the remarkable benefits the Federal Government reaped in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 from more than 45 prize competitions across 10 agencies. To date, nearly 300 prize competitions have been implemented by 45 agencies through the website

Over the past four years, the Obama Administration has taken important steps to make prizes a standard tool in every agency’s toolbox. In his September 2009 Strategy for American Innovation, President Obama called on all Federal agencies to increase their use of prizes to address some of our Nation’s most pressing challenges. In March 2010, the Office of Management and Budget issued a policy framework to guide agencies in using prizes to mobilize American ingenuity and advance their respective core missions. Then, in September 2010, the Administration launched, a one-stop shop where entrepreneurs and citizen solvers can find public-sector prize competitions.

The prize authority in COMPETES is a key piece of this effort. By giving agencies a clear legal path and expanded authority to deploy competitions and challenges, the legislation makes it dramatically easier for agencies to enlist this powerful approach to problem-solving and to pursue ambitious prizes with robust incentives.

As the report released today makes clear, agencies made big strides in the challenge arena in FY 2012. In FY 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began establishing strategies to expand its use of the new prize authority – and by FY 2012, HHS emerged as a leader in implementing prize programs, offering 18 prize competitions, many conducted through public-private partnerships. Also in FY 2012, the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration issued challenges focused on leveraging open government data to benefit entrepreneurs, job-seekers, and small businesses.

To support these ongoing efforts, the General Services Administration  continues to train agencies about resources and vendors available to help them administer prize competitions. In addition, NASA’s Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) provides other agencies with a full suite of services for incentive prize pilots – from prize design, through implementation, to post-prize evaluation.

Notable FY 2012 prizes detailed in the report include:

  • Apps for Energy – The Department of Energy offered $100,000 in prizes to software developers for the best new applications (apps) that help utility customers make the most out of their Green Button electricity usage data. The Grand Prize winner, Leafully, helps people understand energy usage through diving deep into the hourly data with historic trends, understanding the effect of the abstract units of energy, and taking action with tree values in mind along with friends.
  • Census Return Rate Challenge – The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a prize competition that challenged statisticians, mathematicians, and other data scientists to analyze Census data in order to create a statistical model to predict Decennial Census mail return rates at the Census block group level of geography. The winning teams’ models used statistical methods not previously utilized by the agency and will be used in modeling for the decennial census and demographic sample surveys.
  • DARPA Shredder Challenge – DARPA’s Shredder Challenge called upon computer scientists and puzzle enthusiasts to compete for up to $50,000 by piecing together a series of shredded documents. The prize’s goal was to identify and assess potential capabilities that could be used by U.S. warfighters or that might also create vulnerabilities related to sensitive information.  Almost 9,000 teams registered to participate in DARPA’s Shredder Challenge and 33 days after the challenge was announced, one small San Francisco-based team correctly solved the puzzles, piecing together documents that were shredded into more than 10,000 pieces.
  • Disability Employment App Challenge – The Department of Labor asked developers to help build innovative tools to improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. There were three winners: Access Jobs, a job search portal designed for job seekers with disabilities; VoisPal, an Android-based app designed to help people with speech difficulties; and Accelerated Dynamic Content, a management system that automates dynamic content to ensure accessibility for screen reader and keyboard-only users.

All indications from the first two years of implementation are that the prize authority in COMPETES is continuing to help agencies across the Federal Government reap the benefits of high-impact prizes.

You can learn more about the prize competitions being run across the Federal Government at

You can read the full FY 2012 progress report here.

Cristin Dorgelo is Assistant Director for Grand Challenges in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy


Universities, get your students involved in #CDCOLOGY, a CDC pilot involving students & virtual microtasks

The CDCOLOGYTM pilot website is active!
University students: Click the infographic to sign up.

What is CDC Ology?

CDC Ology is a way for CDC staff to post unclassified, short tasks on a website that can be performed by registered college student solvers (CDC Ologists). In return, university students gain insight into CDC’s mission and specific projects. Bi-directional feedback is encouraged to foster learning and dialogue.

Why CDC Ology?

Public health keeps America from major outbreaks, keeps people from getting sick at restaurants, and protects the everyday health of all citizens. Finding work after school is hard. Young graduates are overlooking public health careers. Retiring public health officials at the local, state, and federal levels are leaving gaps in the workforce. Budgets are tight and getting tighter. We need to bring public health to students where they are. Government is just beginning to embrace the ways students access the world. We can foster a social, Open Government and career development together.

 How will it benefit CDC/OPHPR?

This expands the agency’s workforce and relieves staff, that has been challenged to do more with less, to focus on in-depth assignments.
In return, eager college students gain a small window into government work, bring fresh ideas to small projects, and can put “micro-project assistance for CDC” on their résumé.
This initiative inherently begins a shift in time management, delegation, and cooperation.
Crowdsourcing fits into the Open Government Initiative from the White House, adding transparency and inclusion of the public for our work.