NASA wants your ambitious high-tech contest ideas

From lasers or outer space equipment: What scientific completion should NASA sponsor next?

NASA is looking for a few good ideas for future multi-million dollar Centennial Challenges prize competitions and this time it wants the public to provide them. 

The space agency's Centennial Challenges have generated some highly advanced returns in areas such as super-efficient aircraft, reusable rocket-powered vehicles, wireless power transmission, super-strength materials robotic lunar excavation and improved astronaut gloves. 

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The agency's Innovative Partnerships Program for the next six weeks is accepting ideas for new competitions. Creative ideas can come from industry, colleges, universities, private organizations and the public. The ideas will be posted on the NASA Web site to stimulate additional creativity. Some selected proposals may be formulated into future prize competitions starting in 2010, pending availability of prize purse funding, NASA said.  

Centennial Challenges is NASA's program to award cash prizes to independent inventors for significant advances in technologies of interest to NASA and the nation. Prize purses in each challenge range from $400,000 to $2,000,000 with appropriated funds that NASA has received for this purpose, NASA said.  

According to NASA, any idea can be proposed for a prize competition that addresses challenges related to the mission of NASA in aeronautics, exploration, science, or space operations.  Crosscutting topics or those that also address related national or global needs are especially valuable.  The challenges must require basic and applied research, technology development or prototype demonstrations.  

While the agency said it is open to all manner of ideas, some are of particular interest, including:

  • Energy storage related to lunar and planetary surface systems as well as for vehicles for space or Earth;
  • Storage and transfer of cryogenic fluids;
  • Laser communications;
  • Technologies to lower the cost and to encourage the development of commercial space transportation capabilities;
  • Exploration and operations related to Near-Earth objects;
  • Research and operations related to the International Space Station;
  • Space habitation systems;
  • Logistics and packaging for space operations.

For instructions about how to submit ideas, go here.

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