Tampa, FL – October 24, 2016. Today, NASA announced that Team Miles, the leading contestant in the NASA CubeQuest Challenge, has once again secured a top tier position in Ground Tournament 3. As the 1st place winner of Ground Tournament 1, Team Miles was already eligible to secure a place on the SLS Exploratory Mission Launch scheduled for 2018. With this first place win, they have now accumulated $80,000 in prize money.
Wes Faler, team lead for Miles stated, “I’m very proud of my team. I know we still have a long, hard road ahead of us. I’ve seen the competition and we know how qualified they are. We’ll continue to forge ahead and not take anything for granted. Our team has a daring mission plan and I’m thrilled that NASA has recognized our capabilities with three consecutive ground tournament victories.”
Team Miles is the only non-university team to earn a prize in Ground Tournament 3. As a team of citizen scientists and engineers, they came together initially through Tampa Hackerspace, a community, non-profit workshop located in Tampa, FL. The team soon expanded to include experts in radiation, communications, software development, and project management.
Bill Shaw, software engineer and project manager for Team Miles noted, “These accomplishments show that technology development for space exploration is no longer restricted to giant corporations, major universities and governmental agencies. It’s now possible for groups of independent citizen-scientists like ours to have an impact and make meaningful contributions to the field.”
The NASA Cube Quest Challenge is a competition to build space-ready, small satellites capable of advanced communication and propulsion near and beyond the moon. Teams strive for high-speed data communications, navigation, and survival in lunar orbit or deep space, competing for an unprecedented $5.5 million prize purse in NASA’s first ever in-space challenge. Cube Quest is part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program which accelerates technology by engaging non-traditional sources in competition.
The CubeQuest challenge pushes teams to develop innovative propulsion, navigation and communications technologies for small satellites which will enable the expected explosion in deep space, lunar, and asteroid missions bearing science and commercial payloads. Team Miles has developed a number of substantial advancements that will be tested during the CubeQuest challenge. These innovations will be commercialized through strategic partnerships.
The Miles spacecraft is a 6U satellite, about the size of a breadbox, that will be capable of navigating to deep space, conducting its mission, and then navigating to a final orbit near Mars. The entire mission will be flown autonomously by a sophisticated onboard computer system and powered by evolutionary plasma thrusters.
In addition to the $80,000 in prize money the team has won so far, their efforts have also been supported by strategic partnerships with Fluid and Reason (http://fluidandreason.com/), Yosemite Space (http://yosemitespace.com/), The DRI (http://thedri.com/), Piedmont Precision Aeroculture (http://ppaeroculture.com/), Brainloop (http://www.brainloop.com/), Basecamp (https://basecamp.com/), Thermal Management Technologies (http://tmt-ipe.com/), Sabalcore (http://www.sabalcore.com/) and Helical Communication Technologies (http://www.helicomtech.com/)
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