NASA has named the 13 winners of a $500,000 prize competition that sought technologies and ways to dig through the moon's icy regolith, in response to the need for water in future lunar exploration missions.
The space agency said Thursday its Break the Ice Lunar Challenge was championed by Florida-based Redwire Space, which won $125,000 for a two-rover ice-digging system. The competition began in November 2020 and aims to support future resource needs of NASA's Artemis exploration program.
Redwire's Lunar Transporter or L-Tran, a low-mass transportation rover, would deploy the Lunar Regolith Excavator or L-Rex, which is designed to dig through large amounts of lunar ice. L-Tran would then deliver the gathered ice and regolith.
Colorado School Of Mines and Austere Engineering won the competition's second and third places, respectively, for their own ice excavation systems.
“The system concepts developed as part of this challenge will enable sustainable lunar surface operations, paving the way for us to convert lunar ice to vital resources and decreasing our supply needs from Earth," said Monsi Roman, program manager for Centennial Challenges at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
NASA also awarded $25,000 each to the following runner-up teams:
- AggISRU from Texas A&M University in College Station
- Aurora Robotics from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks
- Lunar Lions from the Columbia University Robotics Club
- OffWorld Robotics
- Oshkosh Corporation
- Rocket M
- Space Trajectory from South Dakota State University
- Team AA-Star
- Team LIQUID
- Terra Engineering