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NASA: Tell us how to spend $4m pa on tech contests

Perhaps a prize for the best answer?

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Hoping to stimulate the US economy and space programme through crowdsourcing, NASA has invited the general public to submit ideas for inventor-prize contests. So far there is no suggestion of a prize for the best contest idea.

In essence, the situation is simple. Space agency chiefs have a budget of $4m per year for their Centennial Challenge prize scheme, which is supposed to motivate inventors - not necessarily American ones, either - to produce useful and innovative new bits of technology.

Past examples have included the moon-dirt robodigger compo, the Personal Air Vehicle Challenge (now mutated into a sort of pseudo-green electric-glider race), "lunar lander" VTOL rocket-pods etc.

But now NASA chiefs find themselves short of ideas, and they'd like your thoughts. Ideas for prize contests in coming years should be "relevant to NASA mission needs" and to "national and global needs" too. The challenges should also be of the "right degree of difficulty" - ie achievable by fairly small teams with a budget "appropriate for the prize amount" (which could be anywhere from $400k to $2m per contest).

Best of all, compo notions should be "compelling to the public", "interesting" and "futuristic".

Full details on how to submit an idea are available from NASA here. ®

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