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Introducing: The N-Prize. The what? “The N-Prize is a challenge to launch an impossibly small satellite into orbit on a ludicrously small budget, for a pitifully small cash prize.”

First proposed on Halfbakery, the site for cooking up crazy ideas, the N-Prize has now become a serious endeavor.

The prize, of £9,999.99 sterling cash, will be awarded to the team that can successfully deliver a tiny satellite (with a mass of between 9.99 and 19.99 grams) into orbit for nine orbits. The cost of the ship itself (not including ground support or R&D) cannot exceed £999 (about US$1500).

Anyone who knows anything about rocketry and space knows how nearly impossible it is to insert something into orbit, on the amateur level, for this kind of money. But that’s not stopping folks from trying. The site currently lists 15 teams planning on competing.

Here’s an interview with N-Prize founder, Dr. Paul Dear.

N-Prize

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Jack says:

    19.99 grams?!? That’s only 0.044 pounds!!! For comparison, that’s about the weight of 7 1/2 pennies.

    I’ll be impressed if one of the teams can successfully track and recover something that small.

    I suppose if I were to design it, I’d start with a much heavier launch system. The actual satellite would pretty much just be a transmitter with a tiny battery (or tiny solar panel). I’d break out my physics books and determine an appropriate height for my launch system to eject the satellite, and the correct angle and velocity to eject it at to ensure it made at least 9 orbits.

    Of course, it might be a challenge to make any sort of transmitter small enough to meet weight restrictions, yet powerful enough to be picked up.

  2. Almost_There says:

    Maybe this crazy Canadian can use a Water Bottle Rocket to get a keychain transmitter in orbit… http://hackedgadgets.com/2008/02/19/canadian-inventor-to-launch-bottle-rocket-into-orbit/

  3. Monroe Lee King Jr. says:

    I Challenge Make Magazine to come here and see what we are doing with the “Not quite right stuff” to win the N-Prize.

    Monroe Lee King Jr.
    Team Prometheus

    P.S. And the Lander we are building for the GLXP Team Frednet

  4. john says:

    And I challenge anyone to listen to Monroe Lee King Jr. for more than 30 seconds while maintaining a straight face.

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