Describe your technology for nighttime precision landing.
Photo Credit: Masten Space Systems

Please read all of the application requirements before completing each section. All applications must be in English. The Technology Title and Technology Description may be published on this website; the remainder of your submission will only be viewed by challenge administrators and judges.

Be sure to review your application as it will appear after it’s been submitted (link at the bottom of the page) and confirm your changes have been saved. When you have completed all of the requirements, a message will be displayed on the screen. At that point, you can submit your final application. Once you have submitted the application, you will no longer be able to make changes and the status on your dashboard will confirm submission (you will not receive an automated email confirmation).

You must submit no later than Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 5:00 PM Pacific.


Offer a brief and compelling overview of your technology. Avoid using jargon, abbreviations, or language that a layperson may not understand.


Provide a title for your technology. Choose a name that easily identifies your solution and distinguishes it from any other technology.


Provide a short description of your technology.


The following information is required to capture a basic understanding of the leadership, structure, vision, and capabilities of the people working on this technology.

CAPABILITIES (250 words)

Describe the skills, capacity, and experience of you or your team to execute your plans to deliver a flight-ready payload that meets the Technical Guidelines of this challenge. Be sure to include core competencies and how they apply to your technology, any relevant past projects or experience, and any other additional details that support your ability to develop a flight-ready payload that meets the Technical Guidelines of this challenge.


In order to be eligible for an award, individuals must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States and be 18 years of age or older, and organizations must be an entity incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States. If you are selected as a potential Winner and you are an individual, you will be asked to provide proof of citizenship or permanent residency. If you are selected as a potential Winner and you are an organization, you will be asked to provide proof of the location of your primary place of business. Please confirm that you will be able to provide one of the options below:

  • Yes, I can provide proof of citizenship or permanent residency.
  • Yes, my organization can provide proof that the location of our primary place of business is in the United States.


In order to participate in the TechLeap Prize, you must demonstrate that you have at least $250,000 liability insurance coverage. You will be asked to provide proof of your insurance coverage or otherwise demonstrate financial responsibility for that amount at the time you are selected as a potential Winner. See the Insurance Guidelines for additional details about this requirement. Do you have and are you able to provide proof of at least $250,000 liability insurance coverage or demonstrate financial responsibility at that amount?  

  • Yes, I can provide proof of at least $250,000 liability insurance coverage or demonstrate financial responsibility at that amount.


Here is your opportunity to provide the details of your proposed solution for the Nighttime Precision Landing Challenge No. 1. Be sure to emphasize how your technology and payload development plans align with the four criteria that will be used to assess each valid submission (see Scoring Rubric).


This challenge focuses on sensing systems that can detect hazards in the dark from an altitude of 250 meters or higher and process the data in real time to generate a terrain map suitable for facilitating safe landing of a spacecraft. Specifically, NASA is seeking technologies that meet or exceed the specifications described in the Technical Guidelines and are at a level of development where testing on a suborbital flight is a logical next step for advancing the technology. Describe your technology. How does it address this challenge?  


Describe how your technology improves upon the size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) of currently available solutions for identifying terrain hazards for lander vehicles while still providing required mapping performance. Consider using quantitative figures of merit, with supporting data, to describe how the proposed technology will improve SWaP-C while maintaining performance. Focus on how your technology meets the Technical Guidelines that NASA has identified.  


Please upload a PDF that contains drawings, illustrations, schematics, charts, graphs, or other visual representations of your technology that help convey what it is and its benefits. You must upload a single PDF file that does not exceed five pages. The maximum size of the file is 10MB. The PDF should not simply be a bullet-point summary of your solution. While the PDF may contain some additional text explaining your technology, it should primarily be visual and not be used to circumvent word counts on this submission. If it does, your submission may be disqualified.


Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) are a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology. Provide the estimated technology readiness level for the technology behind your proposal. We anticipate that most of the proposals submitted will be at TRL 4 or TRL 5.  

  • TRL 9 – Actual system “flight proven” through successful mission operations
  • TRL 8 – Actual system completed and “flight qualified” through test and demonstration (ground or space)  
  • TRL 7 – System prototype demonstration in a space environment  
  • TRL 6 – System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (ground or space)  
  • TRL 5 – Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment  
  • TRL 4 – Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment  
  • TRL 3 – Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept  
  • TRL 2 – Technology concept and/or application formulated  
  • TRL 1 – Basic principles observed and reported


Explain how this technology could be made ready for suborbital flight test in eight months. Consider sharing how the technology has been successfully tested in the laboratory (at least the component or breadboard level) to demonstrate current development status. Provide evidence to support your explanation. You may cite test results or other evidence by providing URLs.  

NOTE: If you choose to provide URLs, they cannot be password protected. This information will be shared with judges and prize administrators so be mindful of what you share. It will primarily be used for due diligence on your technology. Judges are not required to read this content.


Describe how you plan to turn your technology into a payload that could be tested on a suborbital flight. Include how you intend to meet the payload requirements as outlined in the Technical Guidelines (maximum sensor mass of 20 kg, total maximum payload mass of 50 kg, and maximum volume of 355 mm tall x 724 mm diameter.) Highlight any potential risks associated with your payload development plan, as well as how you plan to mitigate these risks.

NOTE: NASA intends to award a suborbital flight test at no additional cost to each of the Winners of Payload Build Round 2. For this challenge, NASA anticipates contracting with Masten Space Systems for a rocket-powered suborbital flight. If you have questions about the flight provider or the suborbital flight test, please contact us.  

To learn more, see details in the Technical Guidelines.


For this challenge, teams are not required to build or demonstrate spaceflight qualified sensor systems. However, smaller and more cost-effective space-qualified sensors for hazard detection are the eventual end-goal for NASA. Describe how you plan to prepare your technology for use in space (e.g., for an orbital mission). Outline considerations related to materials selection, mass, volume, power, and computing capability that you plan to address to ensure your system could operate in the thermally challenging, low pressure, high-radiation lunar environment.


Explain who owns the intellectual property of your proposed technology. If you are building on existing or off-the-shelf technology, detail the permissions you have to use that technology. If you are part of a team, indicate which team members own the intellectual property.  


If your technology does not meet some of the requirements in the Technical Guidelines, please describe why you have made the choices you did in proposing your technology. Your explanation may include how your technology better meets the overall objectives of the challenge, how your technology exceeds what the Technical Guidelines specify, or how aspects of your technology may need to be adjusted to be flight ready. This is also your opportunity to describe any outstanding issues that you could not explain in any other sections.  


If your team is named a Winner, you will have eight months to build a flight-ready payload. Use this section to describe your plan for successfully developing a payload in that timeframe.

PROJECT PLAN (200 words)

In bulleted chronological order, describe your project plan and the timeline needed to prepare your flight-ready payload in eight months. Include a plan to mitigate any risks.  


Enter the total cost to build and prepare your flight-ready payload. NOTE: Winners will have the opportunity to win up to $650,000, including $150,000 during the Performance Incentive Phase, as well as access to a no-cost NASA-sponsored suborbital flight to test the technology. Although the award amount is up to $650,000, this amount may be more than, less than, or equal to that value.


Provide specific line items from the budget narrative above. You may include any cost categories, including contingencies for risk mitigation, that support the development of your technology and payload. NOTE: Although the award amount is up to $650,000, this amount may be more than, less than, or equal to that value.


If the total cost to develop your technology and payload exceeds $650,000, explain how you plan to fund the remaining costs. If your total cost does not exceed $650,000, enter “Not Applicable.”


You are required to submit a video that describes your technology and why it should be selected. The video is an opportunity to showcase your technology and to describe it in a succinct format. We want you to share your vision with the judges in a way that is different from the written solution format. This DOES NOT need to be a professionally produced video; video shot on a smartphone is acceptable. Additionally, please take care to protect any intellectual property associated with your technology. Only judges and challenge administrators will view this video.

In order to complete this part of your submission, your team will upload a short digital film using YouTube. Set the Privacy Settings on your video to Unlisted – do not set them to Private.

Video submissions should follow these guidelines or else it will render the submission ineligible:

  • 90 seconds in length maximum.
  • Your pitch must be in English.
  • Your video must be captioned. See instructions here on how to caption YouTube videos.
  • Your video should not contain any images of identifiable children (under age 18) without express parental consent.
  • Your video should not include any copyrighted material (including, but not limited to, music) for which you do not have a license.

Here are general suggestions for delivering a high-quality video pitch:

  • Introduce yourself and your organization(s) and/or team.
  • Describe your technology, including what is unique about it.
  • Explain how you will know that you’ve achieved success.
  • Do not simply read a slide deck; instead, try to connect with your audience—the judges.


If you are identified as a potential Winner, you will be asked to provide the following information prior to any Award being made:

  • If you are an individual, proof of citizenship or permanent residency.
  • If you are an organization, proof that your location of business is in the United States.
  • Proof of $250,000 liability insurance or otherwise demonstrate financial responsibility for that amount. (See the Insurance Guidelines for additional details about this requirement.)
  • Details of any other funding opportunities for which this technology or a closely related technology is being considered.
  • A signed Purse Payment Form, Agreement for Winners, and any other required documentation.

Once your eligibility has been verified, and you have been named a Winner, please note the following:

  • You or your team will be invited to develop your flight-ready technology payload according to your application within an eight-month period.  
  • You will receive an initial award of $200,000.  
  • During Payload Build Round 1 and Payload Build Round 2, Winners will have the opportunity to compete for additional awards of $200,000 and $100,000 each. Field Judges will conduct on-site visits in October 2022 and February 2023 to score the progress each Winner has made. Due dates will be provided to each Winner prior to the start of these rounds.
  • During the Performance Incentive Phase, NASA intends to award a suborbital flight test at no additional cost to each of the Winners of Payload Build Round 2. NASA anticipates this flight test will be conducted on a rocket-powered vehicle provided by Masten Space Systems. During the suborbital flight, you will have the opportunity to win an additional award of up to $150,000, based on the payload’s ability to generate a terrain map that meets or exceeds the targets outlined in the Technical Guidelines.
  • Once the suborbital flight has completed, each Winner will submit a final report, discussing flight test results and future plans for the technology.
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Photo Credit: NASA