NASA offers $400,000 for super space glove

NASA space glove challenge a key Centennial Challenge for space

the space glove challenge
If you can build a high-tech glove that can move easily and operate effectively in the vacuum of space, NASA may have $400,000 for your effort.

That's the amount of money up for grabs in the 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge set for Nov. 19 at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Fla. 

NASA said the competition will test gloves from at least two contestants  that will measure the gloves' dexterity and strength during operation in a glove box that simulates the vacuum of space. 

According to the competition Web site, the challenge will be conducted by Volanz Aerospace in a format that brings all competitors to a single location for a "head to head" competition to determine the winning Team(s). Each team will be required pass a series of minimum performance requirements having to do with the glove's interface with the interface to the test box, flexibility, dexterity  and pressurization. 

Other requirements include: the weight of the outer or thermal micrometeoroid garment (TMG) layer of the glove must not exceed 200 grams; and the TMG must be able to withstand a temperature range from -120 degrees Celsius (-185 F) to +113 degrees Celsius (235 F).    

Performance tests include range-of-motion and the ability of the operator to push and pull items as well as manipulate them.  The  team(s) that earns the highest score will be the winner. 

From the Web site: For this test, conducted in the glove box, the Competitor will insert the full Glove, consisting of the TMG layer, outer glove unpressurized layer, and the unpowered, bladder and bladder-restraint portion of the Glove into the Glove Box. The Competitor will perform 30 minutes of hand exercises (e.g., pinching and gripping), and other manipulation dexterity tests and tasks that will be scored based on performance. 

The glove challenge is but one of NASA's Centennial Challenges that offers top dollar rewards for a variety of innovative technologies.  For example, NASA recently awarded $1.65 million in prize money to a pair of aerospace companies that successfully simulated landing a spacecraft on the moon and lifting off again.  NASA gave a $1 million first prize to Masten Space Systems and a $500,000 second prize to Armadillo Aerospace for successfully completing the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

NASA recently held and awarded a $900,000 prize in its Power Beaming and Tether Challenge to develop future solar power satellites and a futuristic project known as the Space Elevator.  Space elevators are in a nutshell stationary tethers rotating with the Earth, held up by a weight at its end, and serving as a track on which electric vehicles called "climbers" can travel up and down carrying about 10 tons of payload, according to The Spaceward Foundation which is working with NASA on these challenges. 

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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