Space Prize Hearings

SpaceRef has a summary of the hearing on prizes for space achievements, held on the Hill this morning.

Molly Macauley made an excellent point:

“Even if an offered prize is never awarded because competitors fail all attempts to win, the outcome can shed light on the state of the technology maturation. In particular, an unawarded prize can signal that even the best technological efforts aren’t quite ripe at the proffered level of monetary reward. Such a result is important information for government when pursuing new technology subject to a limited budget,” she said.

The DARPA Challenge is a good example of that, in my opinion.

Of course, we have the usual caviling:

“While establishment of a NASA prize program is certainly worth considering, we should not be lulled into thinking that it is any substitute for providing adequate funding for NASA’s R&D programs,” cautioned Subcommittee Ranking Minority Member Nick Lampson (D-TX).

Rep. Lampson is one of the representatives from JSC.

Overall, while there were some appropriate cautionary notes, there seemed to be a consensus that this was a good idea. Let’s hope that they can get the funding now.