Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Go to Mars, Win a Prize?

Buried deep within NASA’s 2005 budget proposal is a new program called “Centennial Challenges”. The program would establish a series of annual prizes to promote “breakthrough accomplishments” in key technical areas. The program, for which NASA is requesting $20 million…
February 9, 2004

Buried deep within NASA’s 2005 budget proposal is a new program called “Centennial Challenges”. The program would establish a series of annual prizes to promote “breakthrough accomplishments” in key technical areas. The program, for which NASA is requesting $20 million in 2005, would initially offer prizes in “low-cost robotic space missions; highly mobile, capable, and survivable rover systems; and fundamental advances in key spacecraft technologies.” The specific prizes won’t be announced until late this year, assuming Congress funds the program.

While the concept of prizes is new to NASA, it is not new to aerospace or government. Over two dozen teams are registered to compete for the X Prize, which offers $10 million to the first privately-developed reusable suborbital spacecraft capable of carrying three people. The X Prize is modeled on the $25,000 Orteig Prize, won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927. DARPA, in the meantime, is offering the $1-million Grand Challenge, a race among autonomous ground vehicles between L.A. and Las Vegas scheduled for next month. (TechnologyReview.com took a look at this race last summer.)

Could NASA’s Centennial Challenges evolve into bigger prizes for robotic or even human exploration? That remains to be seen, but for a time in the 1990s Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin suggested a series of prizes for Mars exploration, including $20 billion for the first human expedition. Zubrin
even won the support of then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, but Gingrich never seriously pushed the plan in Congress and it eventually died.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Our best illustrations of 2022

Our artists’ thought-provoking, playful creations bring our stories to life, often saying more with an image than words ever could.

How CRISPR is making farmed animals bigger, stronger, and healthier

These gene-edited fish, pigs, and other animals could soon be on the menu.

The Download: the Saudi sci-fi megacity, and sleeping babies’ brains

This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology. These exclusive satellite images show Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway In early 2021, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia announced The Line: a “civilizational revolution” that would house up…

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.