NASA Challenge – CubeSat around the Moon

Earthrise viewed from lunar orbit - Image credit NASA

Earthrise viewed from lunar orbit – Image credit NASA

The Centennial Challenges Program is NASAs flagship program for technology prize competitions ( The program is an integral part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. The Centennial Challenges Program directly engages the public, academia, and industry in open prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies that have benefit to NASA and the nation. For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: .

The Centennial Challenges program is seeking input on two challenges being considered for start in 2014. Both challenges would be to design, build, and deliver flight-qualified small spacecraft capable of advanced operations near the moon and beyond.

The purposes of this RFI are: (1) to gather feedback on the two competitions being considered, the prize amounts and distribution structure, (2) to determine the level of interest in potentially competing in these challenges, and (3) to understand the applicability of the challenge capabilities for other non-government applications.

The first challenge will focus on finding innovative solutions to deep space communications with small spacecraft, while the second focuses on primary propulsion for small spacecraft. Together, these challenges are expected to contribute to opening deep space exploration to non-government spacecraft for the first time.

The proposed challenges would be NASAs first prize competitions demonstrated and competed in deep space and potentially would be carried into trans-lunar trajectory of the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) on the first launch (EM-1) of the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion planned for late 2017.

Responses should be submitted in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format and are limited to five (5) pages in length. Responses should include (as applicable): name, address, email address, and phone number of the respondent, business, or organization, with point of contact for business or organization.

This RFI is seeking feedback on the competition phases, the prize amounts and distribution structure, and/or interest in competing in any or all phases of this Challenge. Comments must be submitted in electronic form no later than March 31, 2014 to Dr. Larry Cooper at e-mail address: Use Deep Space Spacecraft Challenges on the Subject line.

NASA welcomes all segments of industry, academia, and government, including associations, innovators, and enthusiasts to reply to this RFI. This RFI is for informational/planning purposes only and the Government will not be responsible for any cost associated with preparing information in support of this RFI. This RFI is NOT to be construed as a commitment by the government to enter into any agreement or other obligation or to conduct small spacecraft challenges. This notice is issued in accordance with the NASA Prize Authority, 51 U.S.C. 20144. Responses may be made available for public review and should not include proprietary information. Submitted information will be shared within NASA and with contractor personnel associated with the NASA Centennial Challenges Program. All responses are to be for general access by government reviewers.

For general information on the NASA Centennial Challenges Program see: . The point of contact is Dr. Larry Cooper, Program Executive, Centennial Challenges Program, NASA Headquarters.

Read the full NASA release at

NASA Centennial Challenges