Space prize advice
Ed Wright of X-Rocket fame, a longtime proponent of space prizes, thinks Lunar Lander Challenge is one of the best prizes that NASA has introduced so far. He hopes NASA will find a way to up the budget to an X Prize-class purse of $10 million or so.
(So, Ed, does that mean you don’t think the prize will be won this year?)
(Honestly, I am beginning to wonder if the rules will be finalized this year. As of last Friday, the final rules for Lunar Lander Challenge were not yet released.)
(And, by the way, the Suborbital Payload Challenge announced last October and currently promoted on the X Prize Cup 2006 Events web page –“Watch as astropreneurs vie for a world record and a $500,000 prize as they launch their reusable rocket ships multiple times in under 24 hours” — hasn’t quite come into eXistence yet. X Prize communications director Ian Murphy said he heard a rumor that it would be delayed until next year.)
Ed Wright also has some sharp observations about NASA’s somewhat larger space prizes offered by the space agency’s innovative partnerships department, the COTS (Commercial Orbital Transport Services) demonstration contracts due to be awarded August 8, according to Michael Belfiore. For instance, Ed says, contrary to popular belief, COTS won’t purchase cargo or crew services to the International Space Station, it will only fund development of systems that may be able to provide a commercial solution in the future.
Ed also thinks the NASA-DOD effort to develop a military spaceplane could spend its money better by putting the X-37’s budget into some high-dollar military space prizes (like DARPA’s Grand Challenge), prizes aimed at developing the low-cost, responsive space launch technology that the military needs and the public space traveler wants.