NASA's program of technology prizes consists of seven competitions held throughout the year. The program began in 2005 and is known as Centennial Challenges, in recognition of the centennial of powered flight. The prizes are offered to independent competitors who work without government support, including small businesses, student groups, and garage inventors. The prize competitions are targeted at a range of technical challenges that support NASA's missions in aeronautics and space.
Two NASA prize competitions are scheduled for August 2008, and will be held in California. The Regolith Excavation Challenge requires teams to build a roving lunar excavator that can autonomously navigate, excavate, and transfer 150 kg of simulated lunar regolith (soil) into a collector bin within 30 minutes. In the General Aviation Technology Challenge, teams are asked to demonstrate the performance of aircraft that incorporate improvements to maximize fuel efficiency, reduce noise, and improve safety.