Status Report

NASA RFI: Extreme Environments Challenge

By SpaceRef Editor
August 21, 2013
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A RFI [] has been issued in FEDERAL BUSINESS OPPORTUNTIES for a new prize competition being considered by NASA.  As currently envisioned the Extreme Environments Challenge would focus on finding innovative solutions to the problems surrounding the survival and operations of scientific probes in extreme environments, such as on the surface of Venus where temperatures approach 500* C, the atmospheric pressure is about 90 times that at the Earth’s surface, and the atmosphere is corrosive.  The approach being considered would entail a series of competitions that would focus on 1) electronics and mechanisms, and 2) thermal management, and 3) power with a culminating systems integration competition.

The purpose of the RFI is to (1) gather feedback on the competition being considered, the prize amounts and distribution structure, (2) to determine the level of interest in potentially competing in various phases of this Challenge, and (3) understand the applicability of the challenge capabilities for other terrestrial applications.

Potential competitors, technical experts, interested parties, and the public are encouraged review the RFI and to submit comments to NASA [] on the competition structure, requirements, and award metrics that should be added, modified, or deleted.

The potential challenge is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program, in which NASA provides the prize purse and the competitions are managed by non-profit organizations that cover the cost of operations through commercial or private sponsorships.  NASA’s Centennial Challenges seek unconventional solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. Competitors have included private companies, student groups, and independent inventors working outside the traditional aerospace industry. Unlike contracts or grants, prizes are awarded only after solutions are successfully demonstrated.

There have been 24 Centennial Challenges competition events since 2005. NASA has awarded almost $6 million to 16 challenge-winning teams. For more information about the Centennial Challenges program and descriptions of each of the challenge competitions, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.