Press Release

Space Center Houston and NASA Invite People to Help Shape the Future of Robotic Space Exploration

By SpaceRef Editor
August 12, 2019
Filed under , ,

Robots independently working on the surface of the Moon could soon become a reality with cutting-edge innovations furthering space exploration developed by the everyday explorer. Phase 2 of the NASA Space Robotics Challenge, presented by BHP and announced today, focuses on virtually designing autonomous robotic operations to expand existing dexterous capabilities and help America maintain its leadership in technology. Challenge participants will compete for a prize pool of up to $1 million, which could be used to continue research and discovery.


Developed in partnership by Space Center Houston and NASA Centennial Challenges program, the Space Robotics Challenge is an international competition uniting people from around the world to help further space exploration.   


The challenge is a part of Space Center Houston’s Innovation Gateway community science initiative. This program empowers the public with authentic learning experiences that contribute to real scientific research. The Innovation Gateway community science initiative enables everyone to be an active part of the future of space exploration. 


“Everyday explorers now have the opportunity to design useful solutions to support deep space exploration,” said Daniel Newmyer, vice president of education, Space Center Houston. “This challenge will continue to advance robotic technology and research that is vital to future missions.”


“BHP is proud to sponsor Innovation Gateway and the Space Robotics Challenge,” said a BHP spokesperson. “Increasing participation in STEM education can help young people build skills and knowledge for our changing world, so we work in partnership with groups like Space Center Houston to deliver projects that make a valuable contribution.”


The competition will take place within a virtual environment. This software challenge will require participants to develop fully autonomous operations, navigation and decision-making capabilities that will be tested on planetary robotic systems within a simulation environment.  


“Efficiency, reliability, crew comfort and safety are critical to long-duration missions to other worlds,” said Monsi Roman, program manager for NASA Centennial Challenges. “We are excited to collaborate with Space Center Houston to involve the public in helping NASA advance technology in autonomous robotics for these long-duration missions.”

Registration for Phase 2 of the NASA Space Robotics Challenge begins today and closes in December. The qualification round begins in Mar. 2020 and lasts through Aug. 2020. The competition round will be held from Dec. 2020 to June 2021 with winners announced at an event at Space Center Houston in Sept. 2021. Science and technology enthusiasts, independent teams, research organizations and private companies can submit proposals through 


The Space Robotics Challenge is one of Space Center Houston’s many education initiatives inspiring the leaders of tomorrow through the wonders of space exploration. The center offers people of all ages and backgrounds a full range of immersive, hands-on programs to learn how science and research discoveries benefit humanity, technology and education. For more information on The Space Robotics Challenge, presented by BHP, visit


# # #


The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space exploration learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws more than one million visitors annually, was named “Best Museum in Texas” by USA Today and generates a $118.7 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center and a Certified Autism Center. More than 250,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to experience our educational space museum with more than 400 things to see and do. For more information, go to


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent government agency responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA’s goal is to extend our senses to see the farthest reaches of the universe, while pushing the boundaries of human spaceflight farther from Earth than ever before. The Centennial Challenges program is part of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. Through public challenges, STMD gathers the best and brightest minds in academia, industry and government to drive innovation and enable solutions in important technology focus areas. Learn more at

NASA Centennial Challenges Program, part of the prizes and challenges portfolio within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, offers incentive prizes to generate revolutionary research and technology solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. Centennial Challenges is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  

BHP is a world-leading resources company and is one of the world’s top producers of major commodities, including iron ore, metallurgical coal and copper. The company also has substantial interests in oil, gas and energy coal. BHP’s Petroleum business includes exploration, development and production activities and conventional assets located in the US Gulf of Mexico, Australia and Trinidad and Tobago. Our global headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia and the Petroleum headquarters are in Houston, Texas. Learn more about BHP by visiting

SpaceRef staff editor.