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HeroX unveils NASA’s "Watts on the Moon" Phase 2 for power transmission, ESS for lunar actions

Watts on the Moon initiative (Source: HeroX)

HeroX, the leading platform and open marketplace for crowdsourced solutions has announced that it has launched NASA's Watts on the Moon Phase 2 Challenge prize competition on behalf of NASA.

In support of the agency's return to the Moon under Artemis, which will establish a long-term human presence at the Moon, NASA seeks innovative engineering approaches that will integrate power transmission and energy storage to support astronauts, hardware, and systems in the extremely challenging thermal and lighting conditions on the lunar surface.

As Jim Reuter, Associate Administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate said in NASA's release, "Challenges like Watts on the Moon give us the chance to utilize the creativity of industry, academia, and the public to power our return to the Moon. I look forward to seeing how their solutions may also have important applications here on Earth and help advance similar technologies for terrestrial application and commercialization."

A long-term presence on the Moon will require lunar surface power systems that can deliver continuous, reliable power to support various industrial activities and human habitation. NASA has identified two specific areas in need of improvement:

  • Power Transmission that can deliver power from a remote generation source to critical mission operation loads where (1) power loads are frequently or permanently immersed in extreme cold and (2) there are large variations in average power loads versus peak power loads. NASA has a significant interest in both wired and wireless transmission, and the Challenge seeks to incentivize and demonstrate both types of solutions.
  • Energy Storage that can (1) power mission operation loads when intermittent power generation is not available and (2) survive and operate in extremely cold environments.

Phase 1 of Watts launched in September 2020 and focused on the ideation of energy management, distribution, and storage solutions. In May 2021, seven winners were awarded a total of $500,000 in prize purses.

Because Phase 1 showed that there are several promising approaches to address this need, Phase 2 will be launched to allow these approaches and others an opportunity to vie for part of the $4.5M prize purse to develop and demonstrate their performance in simulated lunar conditions. Phase 2 is a three-level competition that will award up to 17 prizes across the challenge.

"It is exciting to collaborate with NASA on solving problems of this nature," says Kal K. Sahota, HeroX. "Any advancement in lunar technology is important, but these developments in power transmission and energy storage may have an outsized impact on our planet, too. This could be the next 'giant leap for mankind' in more ways than one."

The Challenge: The Watts on the Moon Challenge is a $5 million, the two-phase competition focused on addressing critical gaps in lunar surface power systems, specifically related to power transmission and energy storage.

NASA is seeking solutions that can be designed, built, and then tested in simulated lunar conditions and are well-positioned to progress toward flight readiness and future operation on the lunar surface after the challenge. The first phase of the challenge presented a mission scenario with three mission activities. Teams chose one or more activities to address by proposing an energy distribution, management, and/or storage solution.

This current second phase presents competitors with a conceptual power load profile and environmental conditions intended to represent part of a lunar mission. Teams must design and build a solution that delivers the required power, optimizes mass and efficiency, and is demonstrable within the challenge timeline.

The Prize: NASA will award a total prize purse of $4.5M to winners over three levels.

Eligibility to Compete and Win Prize(s): Individuals must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States and be 18 years of age or older. Organizations must be an entity incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States (some restrictions apply). 

Author : Debi Dash
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