Posted: Thu, Mar 24, 2005, 7:35 AM ET (1235 GMT)
NASA will fund prize competitions in 2005 and 2006 to develop new tether and power transmission technologies in conjunction with a private foundation, the space agency announced Wednesday. NASA will award $50,000 prizes later this year to the winners of competitions to test the development high-strength lightweight tethers as well as power beaming systems. In 2006 will award $150,000 worth of prizes for each of the two competitions, which will be more technically challenging than the 2005 competitions. The prizes will be awarded in conjunction with the Spaceward Foundation, a private group that has been organizing competitions and similar efforts to promote the development of a space elevator; both tethers and power beaming are considered key technologies for such a transportation system. The prizes are the first to be announced by the Centennial Challenges program, established by NASA last year to seek technological innovation outside the conventional aerospace community though prize programs like the recent Ansari X Prize.