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

By: Press Release
| Published 08/31/2019

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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.

Registration for $1 Million Innovation Challenge Open

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 spacecenter.org/src.

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 spacecenter.org/src.