Before the next man and first woman land on the moon in 2024, rockets and robots will deliver supplies for a sustained human presence. To support the Artemis program, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has partnered with HeroX for the NASA Lunar Delivery Challenge. The crowdsourcing competition is intended to encourage the development of robots and related systems for unloading supplies from Earth.
HeroX, which was co-founded by serial entrepreneur Christian Cotichini and XPRIZE founder and futurist Peter Diamandis, has collaborated with NASA on other challenges, including the “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload, the Sequel.” The organizations hope to tap into the global talent pool and devise innovative solutions to technical problems with a relatively lean investment.
NASA seeks lunar delivery of a range of payloads
NASA said it expects to continuously send payloads to the lunar surface. Just as terrestrial logistics have to accommodate a wide range of cargo types originating from a variety of shipping containers, so too will a lunar cargo-handling system have to be flexible enough to manage payloads ranging from small scientific instruments to large rovers and habitat modules. It must also be able to offload them from a variety of spacecraft.
The Lunar Delivery Challenge asks the wider technology community to consider how cargo can be unloaded from lunar landers and other spacecraft while operating in low gravity and within other constraints of the lunar environment, such as dust, vacuum, and radiation.
“We are looking for broad concepts from the public, so this is not an engineer-specific challenge,” said Paul Kessler, an aerospace vehicle design and mission analyst at NASA. “We want to hear from everyone.”
“We are interested in concepts that range from simple to complex,” he added. “We don’t yet know what will work best, and that’s why we’re interested in every proposal. We are excited to see what people have to offer and to have them contribute to NASA’s ambitious mission. This is the stuff that makes history.”
“Replicating our everyday activities on the moon continues to be a challenge. Finding ways to do these things in a lunar environment is crucial to the success of a sustained human presence on the moon,” said Christian Cotichini, CEO of HeroX. “The unloading of payloads is a critical part of that overall effort. NASA hopes it can once again leverage the brilliance of the crowd so that astronauts have access to the equipment and supplies they need.”
Eligibility and prize
The Lunar Delivery Challenge is open to anyone aged 18 or older participating as an individual or as a team. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as U.S. federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (some restrictions apply).
Up to six participants submitting the top ideas will share a total prize purse of $25,000. For more information on the challenge, visit its Web site.