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SFS News: Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space...

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Thu Sep 13, 2007 5:02 pm
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SFS News: Google Sponsors Lunar X PRIZE to Create a Space... 
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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:04 pm
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
...proof that the idea wasn't in someones head...


:roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll:

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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 15, 2007 2:14 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
back on topic: I think it unlikely that a team can accomplish this for less than the $20M prize being offered (there are additional amounts based on performance once they get to the luna surface). But someone might still have a go and spend extra cash for the publicity.

Would google feel that it had to enter a team itself if a rival company put together a team? Having an "Ask Jeeves" rover being publicised by Google would be very amusing. :)


Lol yeah, that's one way of getting the money. Go to the competitor and saying 'would you like to be payed by Google?'

I hope there will be a lot of open communication like Armadillo is doing. That in itself would be a huge step forward.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:14 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
back on topic: I think it unlikely that a team can accomplish this for less than the $20M prize being offered (there are additional amounts based on performance once they get to the luna surface). But someone might still have a go and spend extra cash for the publicity.


Oh I think there's perhaps even a commercial market for such rover exploration. NASA has a lot of problems because of funding with its automatic lunar exploration that would be needed before a return to the Moon.

If someone can offer rover exploration to NASA for a reasonable price (in NASA terms, e.g. still a lot of money) I could imagine that NASA would take such a offer. Just design the rover as some kind of modular bus and you even could put different scientific payloads on it and go for other targets (of course with a stronger launcher and a heavier landing system).

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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 15, 2007 7:28 pm
Could the airbag-system like they used on some of the marslandings on the moon? In that case you wouldn't need a gigantic landingsystem. Just a small rocket to slow it down to an acceptable drop-altitude.

But let's be real, you're talking about commercialising science. Hardcore science, not even labscience. Who would buy science? I don't think NASA would, they would probably send something themselves instead. If you want to make money, it can't bed done with hardcore science. Science cost money. Yes, in the long-run it has a possible huge pay-off, but companies don't care about the long-run anymore, if they ever did.

My suggestion? See it as an opportunity to generate pseudo off-the-shelf spacetechnology. And it would be nice to see some regulations regarding patents. It's going to be next to impossible if everything related to spacepatents is owned by the big corps (since they have a lot of money to buy the patents). I hope we can see some more generous people getting into the business to getting somewhere instead of stacking up money and keep getting stuck on this planet.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 15, 2007 7:53 pm
Why shouldn't NASA buy such a system? If we for one second assume that they go back to the moon (which I doubt but that's another thread then), they need exploration before that step.

Their VSE calls for that as well, but NASA has no money to do that, they just have their lunar orbiter or how it was called in 2009 (and this orbiter even faced several cuts). All follow-up programs were cancelled because of the funding situation.

And NASA was forced to run the COTS program, so why should it be unrealistic that NASA must (ordered by the Congress) buy such "cheap" rover missions for some $20-40 millions (instead of their normal budget for such missions of $200-400 millions).

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 6:53 am
Because of NASA's attitude. Do you remember what they said about SS1? It was in the lines of 'we won't ever send an astronaut in a flimsy plastic ship into the space.' and you said it yourself, they were forced to run the cots program. But that's just for acces to the ISS. Remember the huge workforce the shuttle needs gotto be laid off. That are a lot of jobs and a lot of votes who will turn on NASA. On another note. Let's say the prize results in 2 capable rovers which can haul along 50kg to a max of 100kg of scientific instruments and would indeed cost just one tenth of what NASA should bill. They will test it so thouroughly that the cost will rise anyway. Plus, they probably want to have more science instruments on it anyway, so instead of sending a few cheap ones, they will go ahead and make a bigger one themselves anyhow.

Perhaps a bit of a ridiculous argument? I so hope that is the case, but i don't have a lot of faith in NASA these days.

Besides, when someone different is in power who is more suited to the todays NASA, it will all go back to normal in a swiffy if you ask me. It's more to do with politics then anything else.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:54 am
You are completely correct about NASA itself, but they can be forced by the Congress and it seems that the Congress recently tries to get more influence (COTS, Hubble Service Mission #5).

Then there is also public pressure (NASA Centennial Prizes), so I wouldn't rate it impossible as it was surely 10 years or so ago.

Just remember how NASA handled the first tourist flight to the ISS: They behaved like Dennis Tito (even an US citizen) would destroy the ISS.

But more recently they were eager to participate at Anousheh Ansari's publicity (I guess not because of a changed attitude but because they realised how bad their own reputation got).

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:59 am
All true, i hope they will change for the better.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:36 am
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
Andrew Burns wrote:
But it would be fun to see if a falcon 1 could get a 100 kg rover to the moon (off course with it's own kickstage). Then it would be really worthwhile for investors and participants.


Hmmm, I think that Elon is more in developing stable service providing, than catching prizes. One Falcon 1 launch is sold for ~7mln $. That leaves 13mln $ ( or 18 if someone tries to drive 5km or precise land near Apollo artifacts) for developing payload (kickstart engine, rover, lander framework etc.) I suppose once Falcon is orbit proven, there will be quite a few people interested in trying to grab the prize. I suppose Elon will happily provide Falcons, but he will not be interested in developing the whole mission.

On the other hand, when (if) the grand prize is won, the second prize (5mln $) is not worth it. It will not even return the launch expenses.

I think that they got it slightly wrong. This should be "open" prize, so other sponsors may join in and increase the prize. That would increase the amount of money to be won. And as soon as the race will heat up, new sponsors would rush in. Just my 0.02$...

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:44 am
gaetanomarano wrote:
however, my (bad) experience could be useful for those who are going to reveal their ideas... NEVER DO THAT !!!

Wrong, wrong, wrong! If you have some good idea, but don't have means to make it reality (didn't have 30 milion bucks to spare, did you?) publish it and try to get as much interest in it as possible. You did exactly that and thats great.

But when someone develops the idea further and provide the means to make it reality, you suddenly oppose. That's very wrong. If I were you, I would be happy that (maybe, just maybe) I have contributed to the advancement of the space exploration of the human race. And that is something big.

By the way: What do you expect? Have you ever used Edison's lighting device? No? And what about normal light bulb? It just happens to be invented by Edison. What is important that it changed people's life around the globe.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:54 am
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
Could the airbag-system like they used on some of the marslandings on the moon? In that case you wouldn't need a gigantic landingsystem. Just a small rocket to slow it down to an acceptable drop-altitude.


I was wondering... all NASA photos are public domain, so they are basically publicly available without any copyright. It would be fantastic, if NASA also provide design plans for the hardware they used. The rovers were developed by JPL with Boeing as mayor contributor. So they could provide the technical docs to anyone, who is interested: "Look, we did it this way, it worked. Do it yourself the same way, or improve it.".

Ahhh, I'm starting to be delusional...

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:58 am
thomson wrote:
I was wondering... all NASA photos are public domain, so they are basically publicly available without any copyright. It would be fantastic, if NASA also provide design plans for the hardware they used. The rovers were developed by JPL with Boeing as mayor contributor. So they could provide the technical docs to anyone, who is interested: "Look, we did it this way, it worked. Do it yourself the same way, or improve it.".

Ahhh, I'm starting to be delusional...


You mention the biggest problem allready. NASA develops it together with Boeing/Lockheed so i bet they have a say in it if they want to release the designs.

Some time agoo, when Google release its google books search engine, i did found a lot of NASA technical papers, but can't remember if it also contained the actual blueprints.

http://history.nasa.gov/diagrams/astp/apol_soyuz.htm


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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:36 am
Buzz Aldrin is asked his opinion of the google competition on the Space Show;

http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=775

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:35 pm
Well said Andy! back to topic indeed!
Yeah im a little unsure if 20mill is enough and im also doubting the time frame, all interesting though!

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 17, 2007 2:42 am
The difficult part of this competition will obviously be the launch vehicle. Launching payloads is extremely expensive and technically difficult. It's most likely out of reach for "amateur" teams. Designing and building a rover would be much less technically diffcult and far less expensive. A rover could be build in someone's garage. A launch vehicle cannot.

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