International researchers vie for space exploration funding

More than 200 entries have been received from 55 countries for a UAE-backed international program designed to speed the development of human exploration of space.

The Space Settlement Challenge was launched in February 2018 by the Dubai Future Foundation’s Centre for Accelerated Research.

The Challenge calls for research proposals from any discipline in pursuit of concepts, solutions and business models that facilitate the human habitation of space.

Up to 30 proposals will be selected and share in approximately A$750,000 in funding.

Applications have covered topics ranging from advanced bio-engineering for life support on Mars, to the social and economic business models required to make the space industry a success.

They have been received from institutions including Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, and Cambridge and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

The Challenge organiser is the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Accelerated Research, which is dedicated to supporting research for the advancement of humanity, and is tackling complex issues such as space settlement, digital economics and artificial intelligence.

“Our mandate is to identify the challenges of tomorrow and turn them into opportunities today for our nation and for humanity at large,” said Dubai Future Foundation CEO Khalfan Belhoul.

“The UAE has set itself on an ambitious path to lead the global space race, establishing the first city on Mars as per the 2117 Mars Project.

“Space research is the next logical step in humanity’s search for knowledge and survival, and an advanced means to preserve human cultures, societies and economies.”

The submitted proposals are being evaluated through a novel accelerated funding and review platform known as Guaana.

It involves an advanced system of ‘collective intelligence’ – where participants anonymously evaluate and rank each other’s proposals.

The selected proposals will receive funding instantly when they are selected through the process.

The Challenge is the first of a number of research initiatives being launched by the Centre.

Forthcoming work will focus on the use of personal data by major technology companies and the social impact of self-driving vehicles.