The Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge is one of NASA’s premier university-level engineering design competitions driving innovation in space exploration. The 2020 Challenge is BIGGER than ever before, incorporating a “design, build, and test” component with unprecedented levels of funding!

NASA is seeking robust proposals from universities affiliated with their state’s Space Grant Consortium (or partnered with an affiliated school) for sample lunar payloads which can demonstrate technology systems needed for exploration and science in the Permanently Shadowed Regions in and near the Moon’s polar regions.

Here is a list of the Florida Space Grant Consortium affiliated colleges and universities.

Selected teams will receive awards ranging between $50,000 and $180,000 to bring their ideas to life!

Capabilities to Study Dark Regions on the Moon

NASA has tenacious plans for putting humans back on the lunar surface by 2024 through the Artemis Program, but there is still so much to learn about Earth’s nearest neighbor – the Moon.

In the 2020 BIG Idea Challenge, NASA is calling for multi-disciplinary teams of students from Space Grant affiliated universities and colleges to submit robust proposals for a wide variety of concepts, systems, and technology demonstrations supported by solid engineering rigor that will address near-term technology capability requirements to support NASA’s exploration objectives for the Permanently Shadowed Regions (PSRs) in and near the Moon’s polar regions.

Teams of students and their faculty advisors are invited to propose unique solutions with supporting original engineering and analysis in response to one of the following areas:

  • Exploration of PSRs in lunar polar regions
  • Technologies to support lunar in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) in a PSR
  • Capabilities to explore and operate in PSRs

5-10 finalist teams will be selected to build their proposed concepts and provide results for robust proof-of-concept testing. Teams are encouraged to be creative and design their own accurate and realistically simulated testing scenarios that prove readiness to support a near-term lunar mission.

A wide range of award sizes is expected (in the range of $50,000 – $180,000), depending on the scope of the work proposed. We anticipate funding several larger-scope awards (typically $125-$180K) and several smaller-scope awards (typically $50K – $124K). Proposers are encouraged to request what is actually needed to conduct the proposed work.

Interested and eligible teams of students should submit an online Notice of Intent by September 27, 2019. Written and video proposals are due on January 16, 2020. 

Finalist teams will receive funding to continue developing and testing their concepts and prototypes, and will be invited to present their proof-of-concept results to NASA and industry judges at the 2020 BIG Idea Forum, tentatively scheduled for October 6 – 8, 2020.

We have created a printable 2020 BIG Idea Challenge Flyer that contains more information about this year’s challenge and is ideal for posting in classrooms and departmental bulletin boards.

For full competition details, including eligibility requirements, design constraints, and submission guidelines, please visit the BIG Idea Website:

We hope you will consider involving your students in this exciting competition, engaging them in real-world solutions to reduce technical and programmatic risks for future human missions to the moon.

Be a part of something BIG!

We invite you to view the NASA feature story announcing the 2020 BIG Idea Challenge: NASA Seeks BIG Ideas from Universities for  Tech to Study Dark Regions on the Moon

If you have any questions, please contact the BIG Idea team: