Describe your technology for Universal Payload Interface Challenge.
Photo Credit: NASA

Thank you for participating in the NASA TechLeap Prize.

We recommend reading all requirements for this application before you begin and encourage you to review the Rules and scoring rubric that will be used to assess all valid applications.  

Your entire application will be shared with others during the evaluation process. Portions of your applications may be published online and may be shared with the general public to promote your proposal or to highlight results. Those portions may include, but are not limited to: Lead Organization, Technology Title, Technology Description, and Video Pitch.

Applications must be submitted in English. The application saves automatically and the status of your application is available to view on your dashboard (you will not receive any automated emails). Contact us with questions or technical issues.

Prior to submission, confirm the information provided on the Registration Form is correct. Be sure to review your application as it will appear after it has been submitted (link at bottom of page). When you have completed all application requirements, a message will display on the screen with the option to submit your application. Once you have submitted the application, you will no longer be able to make changes.

You must submit your application no later than 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, February 22, 2024.


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.  


You are required to submit a video that captures your project and describes why it should be funded. The video is an opportunity to showcase your passion and to pitch your story in a succinct format. We want you to share your vision in a way that is different from the written proposal. This DOES NOT need to be a professionally produced video – a video shot on a smartphone is acceptable. 

In order to complete this part of your application, upload a short digital film using YouTube. Video submissions should follow these guidelines, or it will render the application ineligible:

  • 90 seconds in length maximum. 
  • Must be in English, or if in another language, subtitled in English. 
  • Must be captioned. See instructions on how to caption YouTube videos here. 
  • Should not contain images of identifiable children (under age 18) without express parental consent. 
  • Should not include copyrighted material (including, but not limited to, music) for which you do not have a license. 
  • Set the Privacy Settings on your video to Public or Unlisted – do not set them to Private. 

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.


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 universal payload interface system that meets the Technical Guidelines of this challenge. Be sure to include core competencies and how they apply to your ideas for the challenge, any relevant past projects or experience, and any other additional details that support your ability to develop a flight-ready system 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 Universal Payload Interface Challenge (UPIC). Be sure to emphasize how your ideas for creating a universal payload interface system align with the four criteria that will be used to assess each valid submission (see scoring rubric).


This challenge focuses on developing an optimized interface system that enables easy integration of laboratory payloads, including scientific instruments and experiments, onto suborbital, orbital, and planetary lander vehicles. Specifically, NASA is seeking technologies that meet or exceed the specifications described in the Technical Guidelines. Describe your strategy and the technologies needed to create a universal payload integration system. How do your ideas address this challenge?


Describe how the use of your system improves upon compatibility with common spaceflight interface requirements and adaptability to a diverse array of laboratory payloads and flight vehicles. Consider using quantitative figures of merit, with supporting data, to describe how the proposed technology will address SWaP-C while maintaining performance. Focus on how your universal interface system meets the Technical Guidelines that NASA has identified.


Upload a PDF that contains drawings, illustrations, schematics, charts, graphs, or other visual representations of the elements of your interface system. 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.


Explain how your system could be made ready to be used to integrate payloads in eight months. Consider sharing 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 idea into a system that could be used to integrate a payload. Include how you intend to meet the requirements as outlined in the Technical Guidelines. Describe the components that make up your interface system and how you envision the elements and tools of the system working to provide more efficient interfacing among payloads and flight vehicles. Highlight any potential risks associated with your system development plan, as well as how you plan to mitigate these risks.

NOTE: NASA intends to offer the opportunity for a flight test at no additional cost to each of the Winners of the Performance Incentive Phase. This flight will provide functional testing of the system. If you have questions about the flight providers or the flight test, please contact us.  

To learn more, see details in the Technical Guidelines.  


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, 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 interface system. Use this section to describe your plan for successfully developing your technology in that timeframe.

PROJECT PLAN (200 words)

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


Enter the total cost to build and prepare your flight-ready interface system. NOTE: Winners will have the chance to win up to $650,000, including $150,000 during the Performance Incentive Phase, as well as the opportunity for access to a no-cost, NASA-sponsored flight to test the technology. Although the award amount is up to $650,000, the total cost 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. 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 exceeds $650,000, explain how you plan to fund the remaining costs. If your total cost does not exceed $650,000, enter “Not Applicable.”


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 integration system according to your application within an eight-month period.  
  • You will receive an initial award of $200,000.  
  • During System Build Round 1 and System 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 Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 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, Winners of System Build Round 2 will have the opportunity to win an additional award of up to $150,000, based on the team’s ability to efficiently integrate a payload onto a flight vehicle and that meets or exceeds the targets outlined in the Technical Guidelines.
  • Once the Performance Incentive Phase has completed, each Winner will submit a final report, discussing results and future plans for the technology.
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Photo Credit: NASA
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