Home Science Space 'œNines' have it for Nanosatellite space race: The N-prize
English biologist Paul H. Dear has proposed The N-prize, a race to put the first Nanosatellite in orbit for a cost of only 999.99 pounds (about US$2,000). Your first place prize is 9,999.99 pounds (about US$20,000).

The official website of the N-prize is: http://www.n-prize.com/.

On the page “What is the N-prize?” Dear defines the n-prize as “… a challenge to launch an impossibly small satellite into orbit on a ludicrously small budget, for a pitifully small cash prize.”

Dear asks the question on his website “Are we serious?” He answers simply: “Yes.”

Further, he states, “Surely it’s impossible.” Then, Dear adds, “Very nearly.”

No sugar-coating here. It's straight-talk. This honest talk may make it even more challenging for some adventuresome engineering types out there!

Here are some specifics of the contest.

On the “Where it all began” (Half-bakery ) webpage, Dear states, “The challenge is to put a payload of between 9.99 and 19.99 grams (that's the weight of 2-4 quarters or 1-2 £1 coins) into orbit (defined as being able to complete 9 [corrected from '99'] orbits or more before re-entry or loss) for a total cost of £999.99 or less. This is the cost of any non-reuseable components (ie, it need not cover ground facilities, recoverable launch hardware, etc). [corrected from 'the launch vehicle, payload, fuel, and any ground-based systems needed to support it, but'] and excludes development or prototyping costs. The satellite has to be detected from earth by some means, sufficiently to confirm that it has completed at least 9 [corrected from '99'] orbits. The cost of the detection is not part of the £999.99, and outside help may be recruited.”

Another requirement is that the tiny satellite be placed at least at an altitude of 99 kilometers (about 61.5 miles) above the surface of Earth.

(Who would have guessed such a number from Dr. Dear?)

Please read on to the next page for additional information on the N-prize.


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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University