Break the Ice
Lunar Challenge
Phase 2

Q1. What is Break the Ice Lunar Challenge?

A: The Break the Ice Lunar Challenge is a public competition that seeks to incentivize innovative approaches for excavating icy regolith and delivering acquired resources in extreme lunar environmental conditions. The Challenge seeks to incentivize solutions for maximizing resource delivery while minimizing energy use and the mass of equipment delivered to the lunar surface.

Q2: Who is conducting this challenge?

A: NASA is conducting this challenge through Centennial Challenges Program. The program offers incentive prizes to generate revolutionary solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. The program seeks innovations from diverse and non-traditional sources. Competitors are not supported by government funding and awards are only made to successful teams when the challenges are met.

Q3: Who is Ensemble?

A: Ensemble is a contractor that provides challenge operations services. NASA has contracted with Ensemble to support the administration and promotion of this Challenge.

Q4: What are the important dates for Phase 2 of the Break the Ice Lunar Challenge?

A: Here is the competition calendar


Date Description
June 2, 2022 ●      Phase 2 opens
June – September 2022 ●      Webinars to support registered teams and potential teams

●      Promotional activities and/or other support for registered teams

September 30, 2022 ●      Phase 2 registration deadline

●      Eligibility Requirements document and Proof of Insurance submission deadline

November 4, 2022 ●      Level 1 submission deadline
December 5, 2022 ●      Level 1 winners’ announced
●      Announcement of all teams that will move to Level 2
September 15, 2023 ●      Deadline to start long duration Testing
October 27, 2023 ●      Level 2 submission deadline
December 2023 ●      Level 2 winners’ announcement

●      Selection and announcement of all teams that will move to Level 3

March 2024 ●      Deadline for teams to confirm Level 3 participation
May 2024 ●      Level 3 competition and winners’ announcement
Note: All deadlines are at 11:59 PM Eastern on the specified date.

Q5: I’d like to participate – how do I get started?

A: All interested U.S. and International teams must first register through the Challenge website https://breaktheicechallenge.com/ by September 30, 2022 (11:59 PM Eastern). Specific instructions for registration can be viewed on the challenge website.

Once a team has submitted their registration and supporting documents, the Challenge Administrators will review the registration and notify the team leader of acceptance to compete. NOTE: A team is not officially registered as a competitor until the team leader receives an official confirmation email from the Challenge Administrators stating that the registration documents have been accepted.

Q6: I just registered for the Challenge, what’s my next step?

A: Thanks for registering. Please look out for an email from the Challenge Administrators accepting the registration or asking for missing or additional documentation.

Q7: Did I have to participate in Phase 1 in order to participate in Phase 2?

A: Teams do not have to participate in Phase 1 to participate in Phase 2.

Q8: How can I stay up to date on what’s happening with the Challenge?

A: Please visit the Challenge website often to view the latest updates and review the FAQ page on a regular basis to see the latest questions and answers. You can also sign up for updates on the home page.

Q9: How will submissions be assessed?

A: A Panel of expert judges will review the submissions and discuss, evaluate, and rank the entries. The Judging Panel has discretion in the assessment and scoring of submissions and in recommending the winners. NASA will review the recommendations from the Judging Panel, validate the recommendations, and announce winners for awards.

Q10: What can I win?

A. Phase 2 will offer a total prize purse of up to $3 million for the U.S. Teams.

Level 1: All teams that submit compliant deliverables by the deadline and are eligible to win the prizes will be awarded an equal share of the $500,000 prize purse up to a maximum of $75,000 per team. All teams that submit compliant deliverables by the deadline will move to Level 2, regardless of whether they earn prize money.

Level 2: Below table provides prize purse distribution for Level 2 for the U.S. teams. In order to be eligible to receive a prize, a team must score a minimum of 40 points in Level 2. All prizes will be determined based on teams’ overall scores.


Level 2 Prize Purse
1st Place $300,000
2nd Place $200,000
3rd Place $125,000
Up to 5 (five) Runners Up ($75,000 each) $375,000
Level 2 Total $1,000,000

Up to 15 teams (including the winners and runners up) that score above the minimum score will be invited to compete in Level 3.


Level 3: Level 3 will offer up to $1.5M in cash prizes split between the 1st place ($1M) and 2nd place ($0.5M). In addition to the cash prizes, NASA will also award opportunities to test concepts in a dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber that will simulate the temperature and atmospheric pressure conditions at the lunar south pole. Detailed Prize Purse Distribution and scoring requirements to be eligible to receive the prize will be provided at a later date and will be available on the challenge website.

Recognition for International teams

Up to 3 top scoring International teams will be recognized as winners in Level 2 and Level 3. Teams must score a minimum of 40 points to be recognized as winners in Level 2. Criteria to be considered a winner in Level 3 will be provided at a later date on the challenge website. International teams must meet the eligibility requirements to participate in the Challenge and be recognized as winners. International teams are not eligible to be awarded prize money or TVAC testing opportunities.

Q11: What Incentives are there for the Teams?

A: (1) Eligible teams can win prizes. (2) All participating teams get certificates. (3) Teams get opportunities to interact with NASA and industry SMEs through webinars. (4) Names of the teams that complete the registration will be listed on the challenge website. (5) Names of the winning teams will be included in the NASA press release and social media announcements.

Q12: What happens to my intellectual property?

A: Neither NASA nor Ensemble claim any intellectual property (IP) rights from the teams’ submissions. All trade secrets, copyrights, patent rights, and software rights will remain with each respective team.

Q13: Who can I contact with questions or about my submission?

A: Please direct all questions to admin@breaktheicechallenge.com and a member of our support team will respond as quickly as possible.

Questions sent to any other email address or individual will not be addressed.

Q14: Who can I contact for more information about the Break the Ice Lunar Challenge?

A: All questions related to participating and/or competing in the Challenge should be sent to admin@breaktheicechallenge.com

Questions sent to any other email address or individual will not be addressed.

Media inquires should be directed to:

Molly Porter – molly.a.porter@nasa.gov


+1 256-544-2771


Adam Karides – akarides@ensembleconsultancy.com


+1 202-495-1639

Q15: Where can I find information about webinars?

A: Webinar details will be posted on the challenge website well in advance of the webinar. If you missed a webinar, recordings will be available on the challenge website within 48 hours of the webinar: https://breaktheicechallenge.com/resources-media/

Q16: Who is eligible to participate as a U.S. or International Team?

A: Break the Ice Lunar Challenge is open to individuals and teams from around the globe, with some restrictions. All interested teams should refer to the Rules for specific eligibility requirements to compete and/or win a prize.

Q17: What is meant by “Chinese Entity”?

A: Competitors cannot be affiliated with a Chinese entity. An entity includes a Chinese company, university, government entity, research institute, etc. So competitors cannot work for the Chinese government or a Chinese company or be students at a Chinese university or school.

Q18: Can a person with a green card (not US citizen) participate in the competition?

A: Yes, a green card holder is considered a permanent resident, and can participate in the challenge and be eligible to win a prize from NASA.

Q19. I’m a U.S. citizen/permanent resident interested in participating in this Challenge. Will including foreign nationals on my Team disqualify the Team from being eligible for the prize money?

A: Please refer to the Rules document for the detailed eligibility criteria.

Team may include foreign nationals and be eligible to win prize money as long as the foreign national signs and delivers a disclosure (separate form) wherein he/she discloses his/her citizenship and acknowledge that he/she is not eligible to win a prize from NASA, AND

  1. The foreign national is an employee of an otherwise eligible U.S. entity participating in the Challenge,
  2. The foreign national is an owner of such entity, so long as foreign citizens own less than 50% of the interests in the entity,
  3. The foreign national is a contractor under written contract to such entity, OR
  4. The foreign national is a full-time student, during the time of the Challenge, of an otherwise eligible entity which is an accredited institution of higher learning, AND the student is during the Challenge in the United States on a valid student visa and is otherwise in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations regarding the sale and export of technology.

Q20: Can I participate as an individual in the competition?

A: Anyone can register to participate in the competition as long as they meet the eligibility requirements as stated on the Challenge website

Q21: Can we add additional Team members after we have registered and completed the Team registration form?

A: New team members may be added to the team after the initial registration period ends. Team members previously registered for the challenge on one team may not switch teams during the same phase of the competition. The existing team leader is accountable for any decision to make changes to the team roster, including bringing on new team members and/or releasing registered team members. New team members must meet the eligibility requirements and submit all required paperwork and supporting documents as stated on the Challenge website.

Q22: Is it allowed for an individual to be on multiple Teams?

A: Challenge rules don’t have any restrictions on the number of teams an individual is part of. It is up to the individual and the teams to decide.

Q23: What range of Team sizes are you expecting? Would a 2-3 person Team be judged more leniently than a larger Team?

A: We have no expectations on the size of a team. A team can be anywhere from a single individual to a large group. The size of the team is not taken into account in the judging process.

Q24: Is it allowed for an organization to sponsor/have multiple Teams to compete in the Challenge?

A: Challenge rules don’t prohibit an organization from sponsoring/having more than one team. It is up to an organization on how many teams they want to sponsor.

Q25: Can individuals under 18 compete?

A: Individuals under 18 are not eligible to compete to win a prize from NASA. BUT that doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in furthering NASA’s missions, or contributing to technology advancements for Earth applications. Click on the links below to explore how you can be a part of some of the many exciting Student Challenges:



Q26: Why do I need insurance?

A: The U.S. Government requires all individuals and entities involved in challenges of this type to have adequate insurance coverage. Competitors are obligated to abide by existing U.S. Government guidelines.

Q27: What documentation should be submitted to show proof of insurance?

A: Teams are free to submit whatever they feel will demonstrate the required insurance coverage and the document will be reviewed for compliance with the rules.

Q28: My Team and I are NASA contractors. Will using our company resources disqualify us from competing in this challenge?

A: Please refer to the Eligibility section in the Rules document. NASA contractors may enter the competition, or be members of prize-eligible teams, so long as they are not within the scope of their contract, and they rely on no facilities, access, personnel, knowledge or other resources that are available to them as a result of their employment except for those resources available to all other participants on an equal basis.

Q29: My Team and I are NASA contractors. Could you please provide a list of things we can and can’t do to maintain our eligibility?

A: We are unable to provide such a list. It is a team’s responsibility to understand the eligibility requirements.

Q30: My Team didn’t compete in Phase 1, do we need to submit Phase 1 deliverables to compete in Phase 2?

A: Submitting Phase 1 deliverables is not a requirement to compete in Phase 2. However, we encourage teams to think about system architecture and how their excavator & transportation system fits within that architecture.

Q31: Will all the Level 1 winners be invited to compete in Level 3?

A: No. All Level 2 winners and runners up will be invited to compete in Level 3. In addition, NASA may choose to invite other Level 2 participants to compete in Level 3 based on their performance in Level 2. Names of all the teams that will be invited to compete in Level 3 will be announced during Level 2 winners announcement.

Q32: Can a U.S. company submit a concept currently under development through an SBIR award?

A: If you are a past grantee of the SBIR program, you may apply. If you are a current grantee, please note that no U.S. government funds may be used to prepare your submission.

Q33: Will the list of competing Teams be available on the website?

A: We plan to publish the list of teams on the website after the registration deadline.

Q34: What if a presenter or panelist in a webinar says something that conflicts with the rules or a previously published FAQ?

A: The Challenge rules and any accompanying FAQs supersede anything said at a webinar or by any other individual in a public or private forum.

Q35: Is it allowed for a Team to receive input from NASA/Federal SMEs on their concepts?

A: Teams may not receive input from NASA/Federal SMEs unless all teams are given such access on an equitable basis.  Such access is not provided as part of this challenge.

Q36: Is there a particular Technology Readiness Level (TRL) the technologies that we are developing should be by the end of Phase 2?

A: There is no specific TRL required to submit. Teams can provide an estimated current TRL for their submission and a description that supports the assessment.

Q37: When and where should we send the link to the live feed testing?

A:  Link to the live video stream must be provided on the test start date to admin@breaktheicechallenge.com

Q38: How do we notify about the test start date?

A: Notify Centennial Challenges of anticipated start date of durability demonstration a minimum of 28 days in advance of anticipated start date. Any changes to the start date of the test after sending this notification must be immediately communicated with a justification for the change. All notifications must be sent to admin@breaktheicechallenge.com

Q39: What happens when the Team can’t support the onsite visit due to pandemic related restrictions or any other restrictions.

A: We understand that an onsite visit may not be possible in certain cases. Team needs to provide proper justification in these cases and work with Ensemble to find an alternative way to show their testing to judges.

Q40: Can you provide any additional information on lunar regolith?

A: Below are two additional sources of information. Please note that these are just examples and they may not be complete and there may be other sources available.

Lunar Sourcebook: https://www.lpi.usra.edu/publications/books/lunar_sourcebook/

NASA Lunar Regolith Simulant User’s Guide – https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nasa_tm_2010_216446_simuserg.pdf

Q41: Can you provide a list of lunar regolith simulants?

A: There is no official NASA lunar simulant database. Interested teams can visit this external database: https://simulantdb.com/

Q42: Which unit system should we use in our reports?

A: It is recommended that you use the International System of Units (SI) or the multiples and submultiples of SI units in your reports. For example, Mass (kg), Distance (m or km), Temperature (K), Energy (J or kJ or MJ or kWh), etc.

Q43: How exact are the latitude/longitude positions of various areas given in the mission scenario?

A: The latitude/longitude numbers given in the Phase 1 rules are approximate locations provided to direct the reader to the location of each site. Figures 1 to 4 show the exact locations of all the areas. It is possible that the latitude/longitude provided in the Phase 1 rules are anywhere within tens to hundreds of meters away from the center of each area.

Q44: Are there any rules or guidelines about designing for dust?

A: Teams should use their own experience and judgment regarding designing their equipment for dust. Teams may refer to information contained in NASA-STD-1008, Classifications and Requirements for Testing Systems and Hardware to be Exposed to Dust in Planetary Environments and the DSNE (Design Specification for Natural Environment), although this NASA standards document should not be considered by teams as a list of requirements to be met for this Challenge.


Q45: Do Teams need to simulate lighting conditions at the Lunar South Pole for demonstration testing?

A: Since lunar lighting is not a technology gap focus of this Challenge, teams are not required to simulate lunar lighting conditions and their prototype systems are not required to depend on onboard light sources.

Q46: Will we get bonus points if we create and excavate 10% strength concrete instead of 4%?

A: No. 10% water content icy regolith simulant will not be considered or used during Phase 2.

Q48: Why are Teams being asked to excavate and transport 12,000 kg? What is the significance of this amount?

A: Teams may recall that the Mission Scenario discussed in Phase 1 of this Challenge involved working for 365 Earth days to deliver 10,000 kg of clean processed water to the landing site. If we assume that 4% water content icy-regolith was used throughout that mission, it would take a total of 250,000 kg of raw icy-regolith as input to the Water Extraction Plant in order to make 10,000 kg worth of output water. So 12,000 kgs of raw icy-regolith is approximately a 15-day snapshot out of that 365-day overall mission minus some assumed equipment setup time.

Q49: When is the Durability Demonstration Test considered done?

A: The Durability Demonstration Test continues until one of the following end scenarios occurs:

  • End Scenario 1: 15 full, 24-hour long, earth days elapse before the team excavates and delivers the target 12,000 kg of simulated regolith or
  • End Scenario 2: The team excavates and delivers the target 12,000 kg of simulated regolith before 15 full, 24-hour long, earth days elapse or
  • End Scenario 3: Required equipment breaks down beyond the repair capabilities of the planned and included landed mass before 15 full, 24-hour long, earth days elapse and/or before the team excavates and delivers the target 12,000 kg of simulated regolith

Q50: Is it okay to go over the given page limit for the deliverables?

A: No. Teams must adhere to the given page limits. Any information contained in the excess pages beyond the given page limit will not be read or evaluated.

Q51: If a Team is uncertain if a component being considered for their robotic systems is acceptable as a terrestrial substitute for one that is lunar ready what should they do?

A: If a team has a question about the acceptability of a specific terrestrial component, they should send the question to admin@breaktheicechallenge.com to receive official guidance (please allow two weeks for this process).  Note that the overall acceptability of the complete robot(s) will be judged as part of Level 1.

Q52: Can robots be designed to use GPS for localization even though GPS will not be accessible on the moon?

A: Since GPS-denied localization and navigation is a challenging engineering problem which many groups and organizations are actively working to solve, Challenge Rules do not prohibit the use of that technology during Phase 2 Level 2 where Teams will demonstrate long term excavation and transportation operations at a test site of their own choosing. Teams who choose to use GPS must explain the technology they would notionally use on the surface of the Moon in their Detailed Design Report Level 1 deliverable. Teams who choose to use GPS must use a non-GPS means of aligning their robot with the icy-regolith collection bin used to dump excavated and hauled icy-regolith simulant. Please note that it is unlikely that satellite GPS signals will be received strongly by the robots competing inside the NASA provided arena which will be utilized during Phase 2 Level 3 of this Challenge.

Q54: Can we stop the timer for any reasons such as inclement weather, illness, lack of personnel etc.?

A: Once the 15 day durability test begins no pause in executing a Teams Durability Demonstration Test is allowed. Section 3.2.4 of the Rules requires the test plan to target operations for 15 full 24 hour days under ambient conditions.

Q55: Is there a specific requirement for continuous operations?

A: Rules don’t require continuous operations.

Q56: During level 2 can we perform the long duration test multiple times and submit the best result?

A: Teams are encouraged to dry run their systems as many times as they want. However, Teams must submit results from the testing which was observed by the judges.

Q57: Can I use explosives to break up the icy regolith simulant prior to collection are not allowed?

A: Per the rules, “Excavation” is defined as the use of a tool or tools to remove in-situ material from a predetermined location.

Q58: Are we allowed to perform our own custom compressive strength test or is there a set test we need to do?

A: Section 3.2.5 of the Rules recommends the use of testing procedures described in ASTM C39 but Teams may validate compressive strength using other means as long as they justify those means.

Q60: Is the scale and bin for weighing the regolith and the means for moving the regolith after weighing to be included in the total mass and energy use budgets?

A: If the scale and bin for weighing the regolith is not part of the system architecture i.e. it does not assist in unloading the regolith, then its mass and energy are not included in the total budget for these parameters.

Q61: Is it a requirement that the teams which win TVAC testing opportunities in Level 3 have to test only the prototypes used in Level 2/3 in the TVAC testing?

A: Teams that receive this opportunity will work with the TVAC staff in determining the testing logistics and whether they want to test the level 2/3 prototype or an improvised version of that prototype (or a sub-system).

Q64: To meet the live streaming requirement, are we allowed to use a camera system that only streams the video to a mobile device (e.g., cell phone) app or is PC viewing required?

A: Mobile app technology for viewing live streams is allowed, however, live viewing by our judging and evaluation team via a web browser on their personal computers is required.

Q65: What is the procedure to address inadvertent loss, or streaming service timeout, of the live-stream after the original link has been sent on the start date?

A: If there is inadvertent loss of streaming service during the durability demonstrations test then reestablish the link and inform the Challenge Administration at admin@breaktheicechallenge.com.

Q66: Our team is experiencing issues with our icy regolith simulant (CLSM) and availability of spare parts for our robotic system that may result in a delay to our testing start date. What is the latest that we can begin testing and still receive a score for our durability demonstration?

Section 3.2.2 of the Rules provides a timeline for Phase 2. September 15, 2023 is the deadline to start long duration testing. Teams that do not start testing by September 15th will not be judged and are not eligible for cash prize awards. The Rules identify three artifacts which will indicate the start of long duration testing

1) Section 3.2.8 requires Teams to notify the Challenge organizers 28 days prior to their start date,

2) Section 3.2.5 requires Teams to have a certified test report of their simulated icy regolith documenting an unconfined compressive strength of from 1.5 MPa to 2.0 MPa and,

3) Section requires Teams to provide the Challenge organizers (email to admin@breaktheicechallenge.com) with a link to their live video stream at the start of testing. When these three artifacts are available a Team is considered to have started their 15 day durability demonstration.

Q67: I am going to need to make a change to the transportation demonstration area route based on the system testing results. The route modifications may not be complete until the day prior to the start of the demonstration. Do I need to amend the four week prior change report?

A: Even though the physical modification to the demonstration area is not yet finished, a sketch of the proposed change should be sent to the Challenge administrator as soon as possible.

Q68: What is the definition of robot "repair"? Am I allowed to tweak or modify my robot if I run into a problem after my 15 day durability demonstration test has started?

A: Rules section, Level 2 Deliverables, states that teams must describe in their Level 2 Durability Demonstration Test Report any changes to the prototype robot design that was submitted in Level 1.  The rules do not designate a cutoff date for robot changes, which means changes are allowed to occur even during the 15-day Durability Demonstration Test, with the following caveats.  All changes must be documented in the team’s Level 2 Durability Demonstration Test Report deliverable.  The empty mass of the robot must be reported in the Durability Demonstration Test Report any time that mass changed during the 15-day Durability Demonstration Test.  And any modifications to the robot during the 15-day Durability Demonstration Test can only utilize spare parts, spare materials, tools and equipment that were identified, set aside, and weighed before the 15-day Durability Demonstration Test began.

Q69: Are we allowed to start the testing after September 15th if our CLSM doesn’t reach the required compressive strength?

A: Teams that do not start testing by September 15th will not be judged and are not eligible for cash prize awards.  Therefore, it is possible for a team to start their test on September 15th with a compressive strength that is less than the required strength.  In that case the Challenge staff will apply an appropriate penalty to that team’s final Level 2 score.

Q70: From the Preliminary Level 3 Information for Teams, it appears that only the mass of the excavation robot counts in the excavation event and only the mass of the transportation robot counts in the transportation event. Is this correct?

A: As stated in the Rules, the Challenge seeks to incentivize solutions for maximizing resource delivery while minimizing energy use and the mass of equipment delivered to the lunar surface. Although the final scoring rubrics are still being developed, the total mass of the robotic system (excluding tools and spares) delivered to the lunar surface will be considered.

Q71: From the Preliminary Level 3 Information For Teams, it appears that there is no interaction or transfer of material between the excavation robot and the transportation robot. The excavation event and the transportation events are completely independent. Is this correct?

A: That is correct. For Level 3, the excavated material will not be transferred from the excavation robot to the transportation robot. Additionally, material to be hauled in the Transportation Event will be made available to all Teams at the starting line along with the time necessary to manually load up their robot with this material prior to the start of their 60 minute competition run.

Q72: Will teams be required to provide onboard camera streams to the venue for broadcast? Must camera recordings be delivered to the judges for evaluation?

A: During the Level 3 Event, Challenge Staff and Judges will not require access to any live data stream from any competing robot. All the information and data the Challenge Staff needs for judging will be collected independently of each Team’s command and control system. Teams do not need to provide any live camera feeds to Challenge Staff during Level 3 event.

Q73: For the level 3 competition, should we expect any large changes to the way that human operators may interact with the prototype excavation systems? For example, will manually swapping out batteries to be recharged be allowed?

A:  Throughout the entire 60-minute Excavation Event, Team members are not allowed to interact physically with the robot and are required to remain outside of a marked safety zone surrounding the simulated icy-regolith excavation slab. Throughout the entire 60-minute Transportation Event, Team members are not allowed to interact physically with the robot and are required to remain outside of a marked safety zone surrounding the Transportation Competition course.

Q74: Will NASA provide any logistical assistance for transporting prototype regolith excavation systems and supporting equipment to the level 3 facility?

A: Teams must provide their own logistics and transportation services in order to get their robots and equipment to and from the Level 3 Event.

Q75: Is the Level 3 venue going to be indoors and protected from precipitation?

A: During Level 3, the Excavation Event will be fully indoors, and the simulated icy-regolith slabs will be dry. The Transportation Event will be outdoors. However, the material that will be hauled during that event will have been stored under controlled conditions and will be dry.

Q76: From the Preliminary Level 3 Information for Teams, it appears that Teams are allowed to make changes to their robotic systems used in Level 2.

A: Section 3.2.2 (page 6) of the Phase 2 Rules states that “In Level 3, Teams will bring the prototype systems(s) they built and tested in Level 2 to a designated test facility to compete against other teams.”  However, Teams are encouraged, but not required, to improve their Level 2 robots, especially based on lessons learned in their durability demonstration.  Any modification to robots will be judged to determine if they impact their ability to support the hypothetical lunar ISRU mission as required in Section 3.1.1 of the Rules.


Challenge Administrators will require all Teams to submit a log of hardware changes along with justification of the modified system’s ability to support the above mission architecture.

Q77: When and where Break the Ice Phase 2 Level 3 competition going to take place?

A: Level 3 competition is scheduled to take place June 10 – 12, 2024 at Alabama A&M University’s Agribition Center located in Huntsville AL. Teams will be dry running their prototype excavation and transportation systems on June 10 and will be competing for the prizes on June 11 & 12.

Q78: What surface material will the competing robots be driving on between the pit area and the event areas at the Level 3 venue?

A: The path between the pit area and the excavation event will be made up of packed dirt, as this space is normally used for rodeo events. The path between the pit area and the transportation event will be made up of packed gravel, as this space is normally used as a parking lot.

Q79: I’m still unclear exactly what mass will and will not be used for scoring in Level 3. Is it just the mass of the robot or robots used for excavation and transportation? What about the mass of my elevated dumping platform and my lifting and rigging hardware?

A: The total mass of the system, excluding tools and spare parts, that is delivered to the lunar surface will be used for scoring both Level 3 events.  This means that your excavation robot’s empty mass will be included in your system mass and used for scoring.  It also means that your transportation robot’s empty mass will be included in your system mass and used for scoring, unless it is the exact same physical robot that was already captured in the previous mass value.  It also means that the mass of your elevated dumping platform or any other external element needed for remote dumping of onboard icy-regolith simulant material in your architecture will also be included in your system mass and used for scoring. Lifting and rigging hardware, command and control equipment, tools, and spare parts are not considered part of the system mass.

Q80: What are the capabilities and limitations of the Level 3 gravity offloading system?

A: Please refer to the “gravity off-load for the excavation event” portion of the Information for Teams document. This provides information known at this time regarding the lifting device and capabilities, as well as expectations on hardware teams must provide to support this portion of the competition. Further details on the gravity off-load system are forthcoming and should be available in April 2024 once the system is developed and has undergone initial testing.  The April 2024 date is based on the current schedule and is subject to change; the challenge administrative team will update competitors if a schedule slip occurs.

Q81: During my team's Transportation Dry Run, is there a limited number of team members that will be allowed to inspect the Transportation Course?

A: As stated in the Level 3 Information For Teams document, a maximum of five team members will be allowed into the Transportation Event area to support their Transportation Event. This same five team member limit will also be used for the Transportation Dry Run as it is essentially the same as the Transportation Event

Q82: For the Transportation Event, what will the delivery area look like? Will I need to offload my delivered material onto a facility scale or into a special hopper for official weighing of that delivered material?

A: The Transportation Event’s delivery area will be a large flat section of track that is designated for dumping of your onboard hauled material.  Teams are not required to offload their delivered material onto a facility scale nor into any sort of hopper since this delivered material will not be weighed for scoring at this point in the event.  Challenge Staff will weigh the material being hauled before the Transportation Event starts.  Therefore, dumping your hauled and delivered material directly onto the ground within the Transportation Event’s delivery area is perfectly acceptable. 

Q83: If an architecture utilizes multiple copies of the same robot design for both excavation and transportation, should we use just one of our robots in Break The Ice Finals for both the Excavation Event and the Transportation Event, or should we use one of our robots for excavation and use another of our robots for transportation?

A:Each Team can only use one single robot in their Excavation Event and each Team can only use one single robot in their Transportation Event.  The robots used in those two events can be two different robots or they can be the same single robot.  Teams whose architectures contain multiple robots that work simultaneously or multiple robots that operate in sequence must prove that all robots are in working order during Robot Inspections, even though only one robot is allowed to compete in each Break The Ice Finals event.  So in this case, there is flexibility in the rules and it is up to the team to decide by Break The Ice Finals Robot Inspections whether to use one of their robots for both events or whether to use two different robots.

Q84: Will teams be able to work on their robots overnight during Break The Ice Finals?

The Agribition Center, both the arena building and the pavilion building where your Pits will be located, will only be open during normal event operating hours.  Official Break The Ice finals Event operating hours will be clearly shown on the schedule that you receive when you arrive.  Security will be in place throughout the night to make sure all your robots and equipment inside the facility remains safe.  Teams are not allowed inside the facility during non-operating hours.  Not even to their designated Pit Area in the open walled pavilion building.

Q85: Will the mobile boom crane being used for Break The Ice Finals limit the speed of our excavation robot?

We have tested the boom crane swing speed which is in the long direction of the slab and it is actually capable of swinging of 2.5 feet per second.  We did not measure the the boom extension speed, which is in the short direction of the slab, but it is quite a bit slower than the boom swing speed.

Q86: What penalty will be assessed if our excavation robot exceeds the speed limit of the mobile boom crane during Break The Ice Finals?

We do not plan on penalizing teams for exceeding mobile boom crane speed limits.  This is because during gravity off-load operations, a Team’s best case scenario is to stay nearly centered underneath the tip of the boom crane such that the up-lift forces are basically straight up, rather than at an angle.  Another consideration is that moving too fast could increase the up-lift force, thus decreasing the robot’s ground forces beyond even the already low lunar forces.  So essentially any robot that exceeds the boom tip speed is only giving themselves a disadvantage.

Q87: What technology will be used to weigh our excavation robot during Break The Ice Finals?

Official weighing both before and after the Excavation Event and Excavation Dry Run will utilize a 1,360 kilogram capacity S-Beam load cell.  The load cell will be located inline with the vertical lifting stack and the readout display will be viewable by anyone standing near the vertical lifting stack, including Judging Staff and Team members supporting their Excavation Event or Dry Run.  Teams will not be allowed to use the Excavation Event load cell other than during their Dry Run and official competition run.  If Teams desire to weigh their robot at any other time, Teams must bring their own weighing equipment and use it in their Pit.

Q88: What technology will be used to weigh our transportation robot during Break The Ice Finals?

Prior to the start of each Transportation Event and Transportation Dry Run, both empty weighing and full weighing will take place in the starting area of the Transportation Event using an industrial floor scale.  We will give Teams more details once the scale is purchased by event staff.  Teams will not be allowed to use the Transportation Event floor scale other than during their Dry Run and official competition run.  If Teams desire to weigh their robot at any other time, Teams must bring their own weighing equipment and use it in their Pit.

Q89:Can you provide more details about the Break The Ice Finals pits so that we know what to bring with us? Can we bring portable hard flooring, for example? Can we bring portable walls?

The Robot Modification & Repair Pits are all going to be located in an open area of the open-walled pavilion side of the facility.  Pit area floors are all packed dirt, but Teams are welcome to bring portable flooring to lay down on the dirt if they desire.  All Team Pit Areas will be marked on the ground when they arrive.  Each Pit Area will be located right up against the next Team’s Pit Area, with no buffer separating the two Pit Areas.  So if you want some sort of border or separation or privacy from the adjacent Team, you will need to bring that to the competition and set it up yourself.

Q90: What are the details and rules regarding welding during Break The Ice Finals?

The overall event Pit facility will include a provided welding station along with a provided welding professional that will be available for all Teams to take advantage of.  This welding station will be tied to facility power in the southeast corner of the pavilion building and is not capable of being moved nor operated in your assigned team Pit Area.  The facility will provide a fire extinguisher at the welding station.  The provided welding equipment will be a Miller Multimatic model 215 multiprocess welder.  This is a versatile MIG, Stick, and DC TIG welder that can weld up to 3/8ths inch mild steel.  Teams must bring their own wire spools or wire rods.  Teams may bring their robot to the welding station and perform their own welding using the facility-provided welding equipment and using their own welding spool or rod.  There is one very important caveat, though.  The facility-provided welding professional must monitor all of your welding operations.  The facility provider does not allow any welding to take place without their facility-provided welding professional watching.

Q91: Are there any other operations, like grinding and cutting of metal, that are not allowed in team pits during Break The Ice Finals?

Grinding and cutting of metal is allowed in your assigned Pit Area, provided that you use best efforts to pick up the debris.  The Pit floor is used for cattle stalls, so please do not leave anything in the dirt floor that could hurt the animals’ hooves during future events, nor the cowboy boots of their owners.  We encourage Teams to lay down a tarp or similar that can catch the debris and make it easy to pick up.

Q92: Could you provide more details on how you will handle teams with simultaneous robot architectures during Break The Ice Finals?

For any Team whose architecture uses multiple robots operating simultaneously, or taking turns, in order to increase their overall rate of material excavation or their overall rate of material delivery over the rate that can be achieved by using just a single robot, we plan to honor the architecture’s rate as best we can while also being sensitive to finals event time and space limitations.


We will weigh all of that Team’s empty excavation robots prior to their Excavation Dry Run.  That Team will then be required to split their overall Dry Run time appropriately and operate all of their robots on the slab under gravity off-load during their Excavation Dry Run.  Then, for their official scored Excavation Event, we will once again weigh all of their empty excavation robots.  But we will then perform the gravity off-loaded Excavation Event using only one of their robots of their choice.  Then we will only weigh the full robot that competed in the Excavation Event in order to find the mass of material excavated.  Then, for scoring purposes, we will multiply that material excavated mass by the number of robots in their architecture in order to calculate their system’s excavation rate, and the mass of all robots added together will be used as the total system mass.


For transportation, we will similarly weigh all of their empty transportation robots prior to their Transportation Dry Run and they will be required to operate all of their robots during their Transportation Dry Run.  Then for their official Transportation Event, we will weigh all of their empty robots again and then they will execute their Transportation Event with only one robot of their choice.  For scoring, we will multiply the material hauled by the number of robots to calculate their system’s transportation rate, and the mass of all robots added together will be used as the total system mass.


Q93: What is the maximum height above the slab surface that our robot’s lifting and rigging hardware can extend?

The maximum distance allowed between the slab surface and the gravity off-load device hook is 12 feet, or 3.66 meters.  The combination of our planned mobile boom crane and our arena ceiling will not allow us to lift beyond this distance limit.

Q94: The information for teams document states that dry runs will give all teams an opportunity to experience the process that will be utilized in the actual competition and it also states that dry runs will be 60 minutes long. What constitutes a successful dry run? Does my excavation robot need to excavate for the entire 60 minute dry run, for example?

Event Dry Runs on Monday are designed to prove that each robot is capable of competing on Tuesday/Wednesday.  These Dry Runs are also designed to give team members along with Event Judges & Staff event-like experience in order to minimize surprises on subsequent competition days.  Utilizing the entire 60 minute Dry Run time is not required in order to prove the robots are capable of competing.  A successful dry run is one where the robot under test performs a minimum viable demonstration of the actual competition.

For Excavation Dry Runs, the minimum viable demonstration includes excavating under gravity off-load on the dry run slab and showing visible excavated material onboard the robot afterwards.  Visible meaning visible to the Excavation Event Judge’s eyes.

For Transportation Dry Runs, the minimum viable demonstration includes manually loading some amount of hauling material onboard in the start area, driving over the dry run section of the track to the delivery area, and then returning to the start area using the dry run section again.  Teams are encouraged to dump their material before returning in order to gain that experience, but it’s not strictly required during the dry run.

Q95: What is the recommended PPE during the Phase 2 Level 3 competition?

A: It is hard to provide a complete list of PPE as it depends on the operations a Team will be performing in their Pit Areas. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Always stay safe when working around robotic equipment and rotating machinery.

The following PPE should be worn when appropriate for the tasks being performed and will be enforced by Challenge Staff, regardless of location on site or event in progress. This includes the Robot Maintenance & Repair Pit Area, the Excavation Event, the Transportation Event, and all Dry Runs.

  • hearing protection
  • eye protection and/or face shield
  • gloves
  • long sleeves & long pants
  • hard hats

The following PPE is always required around robots and rotating machinery and will be enforced by Challenge Staff, regardless of location on site or event in progress.  This includes the Robot Maintenance & Repair Pit Area, the Excavation Event, the Transportation Event, and all Dry Runs.

  • closed toe shoes with ankle support
  • no loose hanging clothes
  • long hair must be tied up

High visibility vest is always required throughout the Excavation Event on the Arena floor and will be enforced by Challenge Staff.

Anyone who passes under the mobile boom crane’s elevated boom must additionally wear a hard hat.  It is preferred that everyone on the Arena floor walk completely around, rather than cut underneath the elevated boom.

Excavation Event Judging Staff will clear the area around the robot prior to lifting it from the Arena floor or slab surface.  The area around the robot will also be cleared prior to gravity off-load operations.  Any Judging Staff on standby to approach a robot (for example, to hit a robot’s E-Stop or to check for level) while either lifted or under gravity off-load must additionally wear steel toe shoes.  This is the only person in the Arena who is authorized to approach a lifted or gravity off-loaded robot.

Repeated violations of site safety rules could result in Event scoring penalties against the offending Team.

Q96: Our system architecture supports 800 kgs every day for 15 days. But the design basis payload capacity of our excavator along with its designed rate of excavation is such that our excavator will not reach its payload capacity within one hour of excavating, which is all that is allowed in Break The Ice Finals. According to the recently published Break The Ice Finals Scoring Rubric, we will be penalized 50% excavation mass for not reaching our published payload capacity during our one hour long Excavation competition.

Challenge Staff would like to apologize for the error in our published rubrics.  A new version 2 has been published which corrects the error.

The 50% stopped-short-of-capacity penalty will only be applied to teams who 1) claim to have reached capacity and stop the Excavation Time clock during their Excavation Event and also 2) if the weight of excavated material is less than 90% of their published design basis payload capacity

Break The Ice Finals: Scoring Rubric (updated June 6)

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