NASA Office of Space Exploration 2004 Centennial Challenges Workshop Report

Status Report From: NASA Office of Exploration Systems
Posted: Friday, July 16, 2004

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The 2004 Centennial Challenges workshop was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, 15 and 16 June 2004 at the Hilton Washington hotel. In attendance were representatives from big and small industry, aerospace and non-aerospace, universities, government, and interested individuals.

Over two hundred attendees and 30 session moderators discussed generated ideas for future Challenges in the areas of Aeronautics, Exploration Systems, Planetary Systems, Earth Observation, Bioastronautics, and Astrophysics. Attendees and moderators also discussed potential rules and other details for over 30 Challenge concepts that were generated by attendees or internally by NASA.

Three guest speakers, including Senator Sam Brownback (Chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space), Dr. John Marburger (Director of the White House's Office of Space and Technology Policy), and Mr. Elon Musk (Founder and CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.), discussed the importance of prize competitions in fulfilling the Vision for Space Exploration and NASA’s ongoing missions. They also provided unique perspectives on the role of government and private industry in space technology development.

Three discussion panels were also conducted to provide workshop attendees with multiple viewpoints of the subject areas pertinent to technology development. The Launch Vehicle panel featured leaders of the nascent reusable launch vehicle industry, including representatives from SpaceDev (makers of the hybrid rocket engines of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne), Kistler Aerospace, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Rocketplane Ltd., and Vanguard Aerospace.

The Past, Present, and Future of Prize Competitions panel included brief presentations by Erik Lindbergh (Charles Lindbergh's grandson), Dr. Peter Diamandis (Founder of the X PRIZE Foundation and Zero-G Corp.), and Col. Jose Negron (Program Manager for the DARPA Grand Challenge).

The Fund Raising panel featured descriptions of the sponsorship, venture capital, angel, and state subsidy communities.

This report includes a collection of the results of each Challenge Brainstorming and Rules Definition session held at the workshop. These results represent the raw inputs of the session attendees and moderators, unmodified by Centennial Challenges management. Centennial Challenges will use these inputs in the weeks and months following the workshop to determine what Challenges the program will pursue in 2004 and 2005 as well as the structure, rules, and other details of those Challenges.

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