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NASA Announces Winners of Watts on the Moon Challenge’s First Phase

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Seven teams have won awards from a NASA-funded pool of $500,000 for energy infrastructure concepts that would support operations on the Moon.

Phase 1 of the $5 million Watts on the Moon Challenge asked teams to submit concepts for harvesting water and oxygen from the lunar south pole's dark craters, the space agency said Friday.

These concepts involve the use of a power plant stationed on the outer rim of the crater. The machine would generate the energy needed for the harvesting.

Astrobotic Technology proposed the use of small tethered rovers designed to connect a mobility platform with the power plant through cables. The company won a grand prize of $100,000 for this entry.

The challenge then tasked participants to have the power plant send energy to a water extraction plant placed within the crater. Michigan Technological University won this part of the challenge with the concept of a tethered rover system that unwinds superconducting wire into a crater.

The winning teams, announced Thursday, are companies and educational institutions. The winners and their corresponding award values are:

  • Astrobotic Technology, $100,000
  • Astrolight, $50,000
  • KC Space Pirates, $50,000
  • Michigan Technological University's Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab, $100,000
  • Moonlight from the University of California, Santa Barbara, $50,000
  • Skycorp, $100,000
  • Team FuelPod, $50,000


Registration for the program's second phase will open in the fall of this year.