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NASA Seeks to Advance Lunar Excavation Tech via New Prize Competition

1 min read

NASA has opened the next stage of a prize competition that seeks prototype systems designed to excavate and transport icy regolith, or unconsolidated debris, on the moon’s surface.

The agency said Thursday it will award as much as $3.5 million in the Break the Ice Lunar Challenge’s second phase, which consists of three levels over a 23-month period. Initial teams that took part in the first phase and new competitors are invited to sign up for the contest’s second phase by September 30th.

In phase one, 13 teams have won a total of $500,000 for proposing system concepts to dig and haul icy moon “dirt.” The list of winners was unveiled in August 2021.

For phase two, NASA plans to ask participating teams to create detailed engineering designs and test plans for prototype demonstration.

Participants that will advance to level two will work on developing full-scale terrestrial analog models and demonstrate the durability of proposed systems. Level three will focus on testing prototypes and the U.S. team with the highest score will receive $1 million.

NASA added that it offers opportunities for participation in thermal vacuum test activity to see how concepts will work in a simulated lunar South Pole environment.

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