Press Release

HeroX Helps NASA Advance Moon Exploration with Miniaturized Payload Design Competition

By SpaceRef Editor
April 9, 2020
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HeroX, the leading crowdsourcing platform that solves global problems, today launched the crowdsourcing competition “Honey I Shrunk the NASA Payload” on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The challenge calls on the global community of solvers to develop miniature payloads that could be sent to the moon in the next several years to fill strategic lunar knowledge gaps. 

In the future, NASA could send rovers the size of a Roomba® to explore the moon’s surface. These small rovers would provide greater mission flexibility and allow NASA to collect key information about the moon’s surface including its resources potential, the environment and effects on humans, and how to live and work on the moon. This intel is valuable for NASA’s Artemis program, which will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and establish a sustained lunar presence a few years later. Existing science payloads are too big, too heavy, and require too much power for these small rovers and new, miniaturized payload designs are needed.

“We are calling on innovators to be ready and willing to think outside the box,” said Niki Werkheiser, program executive of NASA’s Game Changing Development Program. “This is an opportunity to contribute ideas to advance our understanding of the moon and its resources, which will be helpful for future missions.”

“Solvers around the world are understandably enthusiastic at the opportunity to contribute to a NASA mission,” said Christian Cotichini, CEO, HeroX. “The ability of our community to solve such incredibly complex problems is a powerful case study for the capacity of crowdsourcing.” 

The Challenge: NASA is calling on the global scientific community to develop miniaturized payloads that could be sent to the moon. The data collected by these payloads could help support sustained human lunar presence, enable further scientific discoveries, demonstrate and advance the use of resources found on the moon. To meet the size, weight, and power constraints of these micro-rovers, new scientific payloads have to be designed, built, and tested in time for the different launch opportunities. This means successful payload proposals will be ones that can demonstrate near-term technical readiness, high impact, and the ability to integrate with micro-rovers. The payloads need to be similar in size to a bar of soap (100 mm x 100 mm x 50 mm).

The Prize: The challenge will award $160,000 in prizes across several categories. This ideation challenge is expected to be followed by new challenges to prototype, test, and possibly even deliver these miniaturized payloads. This will generate a maturation pipeline of next-generation instruments, sensors, and experiments that can be used for lunar exploration over the next few years.

How to Become a Solver: The prize is open to anyone aged 18 or older participating as an individual or as a team. Individual competitors and teams may originate from any country, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (some restrictions apply).

To accept the challenge, visit


HeroX is a social network for crowdsourcing innovation and human ingenuity, co-founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur, Christian Cotichini and XPRIZE Founder and Futurist, Peter Diamandis. HeroX offers a turnkey, easy-to-use platform that supports anyone, anywhere, to solve everyday business and world challenges using the power of the crowd.

Explore the latest challenges at

SpaceRef staff editor.