Status Report

New NASA Centennial Challenges Announcement Fed Register Notice# 2019-17061 NASA Space Robotics Challenge Phase 2

By SpaceRef Editor
August 26, 2019
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The NASA Centennial Challenges program has released Phase 2 of the Space Robotics Challenge.  Interested teams that wish to compete may now register on the official Challenge site at 


NASA Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation.  NASA is providing the prize purse, and the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation, Inc. (i.e., Space Center Houston) will be conducting the Challenge on behalf of NASA.


Phase 2 of the Space Robotics Challenge is seeking to foster the creation or advancement of autonomous capabilities of lunar surface robots. Future ISRU missions may occur on surfaces such as Earth’s moon and Mars, and will likely need to operate autonomously for long periods of time before, during, and after the presence of astronauts. Robots that can successfully perform ISRU tasks with little to no human intervention are valuable due to both the communication latencies and limited bandwidth between these destinations and Earth. Additionally, NASA has unique constraints for robotic systems in space compared to terrestrial applications, namely the radiation and thermal environments encountered, which affect the processing and sensing capabilities available for robotic systems. It is also recognized that many of the robotic capabilities needed for future exploration missions could have highly valuable functionality for terrestrial robotic applications, such as disaster relief, exploration of difficult and/or dangerous terrains, and industrial plant maintenance and servicing.


The focus of SRC Phase 2 is on the ability of virtual robotic systems to perform a long-term fully-autonomous ISRU mission for the Moon. This challenge will require competitors to develop software that allows a team of virtual robots (i.e., virtual robotic team) to operate fully autonomously for a specified length of time. The Competition Rounds will be carried out in a robotic simulation format, using Open Robotics’ Gazebo and Robot Operating System (ROS) platforms.


The challenge will consist of a Qualification Round and a Competition Round. Both rounds will require fully autonomous operations, such that competitors will not be able to interact with their virtual robotic teams during a challenge run.  Each round will be scored and prizes will be awarded form a prize purse of up to $1,000,000 USD per the criteria in the Official Challenge Rules.  Official documentation related to this Challenge can be found at    


NASA welcomes applications from individuals, teams, and organization or entities that meet the eligibility requirements as stated in the Official Rules.  U.S. government employees may enter the competition, or be members of prize-eligible teams, so long as they are not acting within the scope of their Federal employment, and they rely on no facilities, access, personnel, knowledge or other resources that are available to them as a result of their employment except for those resources available to all other participants on an equal basis.  Refer to the Official Challenge Rules for a complete set of eligibility requirements.


Interested teams should submit their registration by 5:00pm Central Time on December 20, 2019. 


This email is being sent on behalf of the Centennial Challenges program and is intended as an informational announcement to the science and research communities. 


Thank you for your continued interest in NASA. Please refer to the Challenge Website for contact information. 


SpaceRef staff editor.