Stories tagged centenial challenges


X Prize winner: Source: rockits gallery
X Prize winner: Source: rockits gallery

Revolution through competition

One way to get something done is to offer a multi-million dollar prize to anyone that will do it. This afternoon I watched live, via the internet, the Lunar Lander Challenge:

A rocket-propelled vehicle with an assigned payload must takeoff vertically, climb to a defined altitude, fly for a pre-determined amount of time…then land vertically on a target that is a fixed distance from the liftoff point. After remaining at this location for a period of time, the vehicle must takeoff, fly for the same amount of time, and land again on its original launch pad.

Live coverage is really exciting because you do not know what might happen. The single contestant, Armadillo Aerospace, with their vehicle named Pixel, broke several records in their attempt to win the $350,000 prize. They executed four flights within the alotted time but were not able to return to the point of origen.

A ten million dollar prize has already been claimed

The event was founded by the creators the Ansari X Prize, the $10 million prize package offered to anyone who could launch a re-usable sub-orbital spacecraft, capable of carrying passengers, twice in a two week period. This prize was won on October 4, 2004 by the Tier One project using the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne (the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch).

X Prize spinoffs

The success of the X Prize competition has spurred spinoffs that are set up in the same way.

  • M Prize (short for Methuselah Mouse Prize), which is a prize set up by University of Cambridge biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey which will go to the scientific team that successfully extends the life or reverses the aging of mice.
  • Tether Challenge in which teams compete to develop superstrong tethers as a component to space elevators
  • Beam Power Challenge which encourages ideas for transmitting power wirelessly (see also Elevator 2010)
  • Automotive X Prize: design, build and sell super-efficient cars that people want to buy.
  • Rocket Racing League rocket plane race track in the sky

Read more about the X Cup Prize and its history and future,