The registration for NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge has begun from Thursday. On the preceding day, the organization awarded the prize money of US$3 million to the builder of a telescope on a giant airship. Cube Quest Challenge highlights the biggest prize money in the history of NASA, US$5 million, which has been divided among the three phases of the challenge. In addition, the winner designer will get an opportunity to join the exploration and technology development of the space agency, watching the flight of his CubeSat, which will be a payload in NASA’s Orion spacecraft, to the Moon as well as other regions of outer space.
Associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, Michael Gazarik, remarked “NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge will engage teams in the development of the new technologies that will advance the state of the art of CubeSats and demonstrate their capabilities as viable deep space explorers.”
The first phase of the challenge comprises four qualifying Ground Tournaments which decides which cube satellite will fly on the first SLS flight. Prize money of US$500,000 will be awarded to the winner of this phase. Lunar Derby is the second phase with prize money of US$3 million for the designer who will demonstrate the ability of his CubeSat to enter a stable lunar orbit and communicate with NASA during its proximity with moon. The third phase is called the Deep Space Derby in which the designer who can prove the survival and operation of his CubeSat at a distance of 2.5 million miles from Earth wins. He must also assure the communication of the CubeSat with NASA.
According to Eric Eberly, deputy program manager for Centennial Challenges at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, “if we can produce capabilities usually associated with large spacecraft in the much smaller platform of CubeSats, a dramatic improvement in the affordability of space missions will result, greatly increasing science and research possibilities.”