If NASA is going to have a long-term presence on the Moon, it’s going to need an alternative to typical solar power — lunar nights can last for over two weeks in some cases. And the agency is turning to outsiders for help. It’s partnering with HeroX on a “Watts on the Moon” crowdsourcing challenge that offers up to $5 million in total prizes if you can create energy solutions for Moon missions. The frontrunners won’t even have to wait until the technology is approved before it goes on a lunar trip.
The three-phase challenge starts with creators providing solutions that can power a mission with three activities. NASA judges will pick up to three winners for each activity and hand them $100,000 each, with as many as four runners-up getting $50,000 each. Phase 2 will task the victors with developing prototypes, and will hand out prizes worth up to $4.5 million. If one or more companies reach the third phase, they’ll team with NASA to build hardware for an “operational demonstration” on the Moon.