The NASA Regolith Excavation Cha llenge was held on August 2 and 3 on the campus of the California Poly - technic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. The competition required teams to build a roving excavator that could autonomously navigate, excavate, and transfer 150 kg of simulated lunar regolith (lunar soil) into a collector bin within 30 minutes. Excavating lunar regolith will be an important part of any construction projects or processing of natural resources on the Moon. NASA is looking for new ideas for excavation techniques that do not require excessively heavy machines or large amounts of power.
No cash prizes were awarded but the judges did select three teams for recognition. Tech Ranch, Slobotics, and Team Walbaum were designated for first, second, and third prize, respectively. The competitors included several universities, small businesses, and a few individuals. Most of the teams expressed an interest in having another chance to win the prize. NASA and the California Space Education and Workforce Institute will discuss the possibility of offering the prize at a similar event next year.
The Regolith Excavation Challenge is one of seven NASA Centennial Chal - lenges. The General Aviation Technology Challenge was held August 4-10 in Santa Rosa, CA. The Lunar Lander Challenge will be held October 24-25 in Alamogordo, NM. The Power Beaming and Tether Challenges are planned for the autumn of 2008 and the Astronaut Glove Challenge will be held in April 2009.
For more information on the NASA technology prize program visit: centennialchallenges.nasa.gov/.