Break the Ice
Lunar Challenge
Phase 1

Don’t find answer(s) to your question(s) in the below FAQs?

Please submit them here or email your question(s) to admin@breaktheicechallenge.com.

Q1. What happens to my Intellectual Property?

Teams own their own Intellectual Property. Please refer to the Eligibility Requirements Document for more details on IP.

Q2. Can Universities participate and receive prize money?

Yes, universities can participate and receive prizes. Please refer to the rules and requirements document to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Q3. Is participation in Phase 1 required to participate in Phase 2?

No, Teams are not required to participate in Phase 1 to be eligible to participate in Phase 2. Teams will be allowed to enter directly into Phase 2 if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Q4. How can we stay up to date on what’s happening with the Challenge?

Please visit the Challenge website to learn about the updates and latest happenings: https://breaktheicechallenge.com/

Q5. I just registered for the challenge, what’s my next step?

The next step is to submit the signed Eligibility Requirements Document and attend or watch a recording of Challenge informational webinar. If there are no Challenge informational webinars scheduled, you can access and watch a previously recorded one. The Eligibility Requirements Document can be found here: https://breaktheicechallenge.com/register/. Please register to attend or to watch a previously recorded Challenge informational webinar here: https://breaktheicechallenge.com/resources-media/. Recordings of any webinars will be available on the Challenge website 24 to 48 hours after the webinar.

Q6. If a Team is recognized for achievement of a key performance goal are they ineligible for a Runner Up Prize?

No, Teams are eligible for all the cash prizes as long as they meet the minimum score requirements and eligibility requirements; recognition with non-monetary awards for achieving a key performance goal does not affect eligibility for a cash prize.

Q7. Who can I contact for more information about Break the Ice Lunar Challenge?

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 inquiries should be directed to:

Molly Porter
NASA Centennial Challenge
+ 1 256-544-2772

Adam Karides
+ 1(202) 495-1639

Q8. Why do I need insurance for Phase 1?

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

Q9. Can you provide any additional information on lunar regolith?

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.

Q10. Can you provide a list of lunar regolith simulants?

There is no NASA lunar simulant database. Interested Teams can visit the external database listed below. Please note this database may not be complete and there may be other sources available.

Planetary Simulant Database from the Colorado School of Mines –  https://simulantdb.com/

Q11. Where is the location of the site where equipment is landed on the Moon?

It is the same location as the delivery site shown as green X in Fig 4, as noted in the Challenge rules.

Q12. Can we use platforms other than YouTube to share the Team video pitch and animation?

Yes, you are allowed to use any platform as long as the video is publically available.

Q13. Does the mission concept submitted by a Team require a crew to manually operate hardware?

The mission scenario for the Challenge is an uncrewed, robotic precursor mission to the lunar surface to excavate icy regolith and transport acquired resources for the purposes of in situ resource utilization.

Q15. My Team and I are NASA contractors. Will using our company resources disqualify us from competing in this Challenge?

Please refer to section 5.2 of the rules. 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.

Q16. What is the best way to ask (technical or general) questions about the Challenge?

Teams can ask questions by sending them to the admin email. Teams can also ask questions at a Challenge informational webinar.

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 unless asked on an official Challenge informational webinar.

Q17. My Team and I are NASA contractors. Could you please provide us a list of things we can and can’t do to maintain our eligibility?

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

Q18. Can individuals under the age of 18 participate either as individuals or part of a Team of others that are over the age of 18 and be eligible to win a prize?

Assuming that team met all other eligibility criteria, in order to be eligible to win a prize from NASA, participants must be over the age of 18. This includes all members of a Team.

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 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. Could you please provide more details about Phase 2 goals, submission requirements, eligibility requirements etc.

Following Phase 1, NASA may initiate a Phase 2 of the Challenge, which is expected to focus on designing and building excavation hardware components and/or systems that would be tested in simulated lunar conditions. More details about this Phase will be available if it opens for registration.

Q21. Can a U.S. company submit a concept currently under development through an SBIR award?

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.

Q22. What if a presenter or panelist in a webinar says something that conflicts with the rules or a previously published FAQ?

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

Q23. Will the list of competing Teams be available on the website?

The list of competing Teams will be posted to the Challenge website and will be periodically updated, but not in real time. We cannot guarantee that all competing Teams are listed on the website at any given moment in time. 

Q24. Are we required to use excavation to remove the water or can we employ in situ ice extraction methods?

One of the focus areas of Phase 1 is incentivizing new ideas and approaches to a system architecture for excavation of icy regolith. Through this challenge NASA wants teams to address the technology gaps listed in section 2.1 of the rules. The first technology gap is excavation of large quantities of icy regolith.

Q25. Will Phase 1 design concepts be protected to avoid any other Teams accessing them and potentially taking the IP or ideas?

Teams own the IP on the ideas they submit in Phase 1. The mission animation video and Team video pitch that the Teams submit (by hosting them on public platforms such as YouTube) will be both available to the public and used by the Centennial Challenges Program for social media purposes. Teams should not reveal any elements in those publicly available videos they do not want the public or other competing Teams to see. All information in system architecture report and excavation plan will be held confidential by the judges through their non-disclosure agreements.

Q26. Does the NASA Water Extraction Plant power use come from the NASA 10 kW Power Plant, leaving 7.5 - 8.6 kW for the rest of the architecture activities?

No, Teams have access to the full power supply (10kW) provided by the NASA Power Plant for their architecture activities.

Q27. If we choose to use the NASA-provided water extraction plant, do we need to detail how it will be transported from the delivery site to the excavation site? Or is that assumed to be done for us?

Teams can assume that the NASA water extraction plant is prepositioned and is located next to the excavation site as shown in Figure 3 of the Rules.

Q28. Are we expected to select a specific lander? Are there resources available that provide the dimensions/mass capabilities of various potential landers?

Teams are not required to select a specific lander. However, Section 3.2 of the Rules provides the hypothetical mass and volume specifications regarding the potential landers.

Q29. Are we constrained to 10kW or can we supply more if we need it?

Teams are allowed to supply their own power system if needed. As stated in the Challenge rules, Teams must address any additional mass of the equipment used to provide additional power in the performance analysis.

Q30. What range of Team sizes are you expecting? Would a 2-3 person Team be judged more leniently than a larger Team?

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

Q31. Will there be a clear map of the terrain? Or do we have to get it from the pictures within the rules?

Section 3.2.3 of the Rules provides some resources to get additional terrain data. In addition to that, some tutorials about how to use the terrain data are available on the Challenge website. Please visit the Media & Resources page for these video tutorials.

Q32. Can we utilize nuclear power?

There are no restrictions on the types of power source that Teams can use for the operation of their architecture. However, as stated in the Challenge rules, Teams must account for total landed mass and total landed volume, including for any additional power generation.

Q33. Are there any technologies specifically excluded from use?

There are no technologies specifically excluded from use in Phase 1 of the Challenge.

Q34. Once registered can we change or add to our Team and resubmit the paperwork to amend with the new Team members and possible a newly incorporated entity?

Yes, you are allowed to make changes to the Team as long as you submit all the required paperwork before the deadline.

Q35. Are non-water ice volatiles excluded from the Phase 1 design and assumptions?

This Challenge is not focused on the extraction of non-water ice volatiles.

Q36. Can we assume radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) would be available for use in vehicles/rovers?

Teams can utilize any power system they desire onboard their vehicles/rovers, including RTGs. However, as stated in the Challenge rules, Teams must provide total landed mass and volume in all equipment included in their architecture and landed on the lunar surface.

Q37. What are the interfaces to the processing plant?

Interface to the Water Extraction Plant is only limited by the mass flow rates defined in Section 3.2.5 of the Rules.  Teams may describe specific interface assumptions that are necessary to establish a credible mission architecture that support; excavation of large quantities of icy regolith, and delivery of large quantities of water.

Q38. Are there any meteorite impacts at the excavation site and nearby areas?

Meteorite impacts are ubiquitous on the lunar surface. As stated in the challenge rules, the lunar surface is significantly cratered due to meteoroid and asteroid impacts and volcanic activity. Lunar craters range in size from tiny indentations to the enormous South Pole-Aitken basin, which is nearly 2,500 km in diameter and contains numerous smaller craters. The polar regions have both crater ridges that are exposed to sunlight continuously and depths that are permanently in shadow and extremely cold. In this Mission Scenario, excavation of icy regolith will take place inside PSRs, where water and other volatile substances are naturally preserved.

Q39. Which Unit System should we use in our reports?

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

Q40. Do we need to consider the power distribution such as cabling and management hardware in our architecture?

Teams don’t need to address power distribution and management hardware within 4 km from the NASA power plant. Any power utilization and distribution needs beyond that distance must be addressed in the architecture.

Q41. Is it allowed for an organization to sponsor multiple teams to compete in the challenge?

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

Q42. Is it allowed for an individual to be on multiple teams?

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

Q43. Is there a particular Technology Readiness Level (TRL) level the technologies that we are using should be at by the end of phase 1?

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.

Q46. How will power be provided to our instruments (what is the interface: wired, wireless, reflected solar energy, etc)?

Teams may describe specific interface assumptions that are necessary to establish a credible mission architecture that support; excavation of large quantities of icy regolith, and delivery of large quantities of water.

Q47. If we choose to use the NASA Water Extraction plant, what state is water in when it exits the plant (i.e., solid, liquid, vapor, or a mixture)? Does the water need to be in a certain state upon arrival at the Delivery Site?

The Rules do not specify a state (solid, liquid or gas) for the water produced by the Extraction Plant or its state on arrival at the Delivery Site.  A Team’s mission architecture is not restricted to any specific state of water.

Q48. The Rules provide only limited icy regolith properties. Where can I get the additional property values for the icy regolith?

There is no single location that provides the icy regolith property values. Please refer to Q9 and Q10 on the FAQs page to find some sources which can help in calculating the property values.

Q49. Is there an interface to deposit water at the delivery site or is that supposed to be part of our system architecture? If there is an interface at the delivery site, can you provide dimensions?

Rules don’t specify any interfaces. Teams may describe specific interface assumptions that are necessary to establish a credible mission architecture.

Q50. Do we need a solution for the NASA Water Extraction Plant waste product?

Rules don’t ask for the teams specifically about this waste product. Teams can include these details if they think it helps their mission architecture.

Q52. Do we need to bring equipment back to the delivery site at the end of mission?

Required equipment operations to be included in the system architecture are described in Section 3.2 Mission Scenario, of the Rules.

Q54. How exact are the lat/lon positions of various areas (mission area, excavation site, and Delivery site) given in the rules?

The lat/lon numbers given in the 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 lat/lon provided in the rules are anywhere within tens to hundreds of meters away from the center of each area.

Q56. Is it allowed for a team to receive input from NASA/Federal SMEs on any of the submission elements?

A Team 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.