Space enthusiasts from around Europe either competed in, or helped to run, the European Space Design Competition finals on 1st and 2nd April, and the passion was in evidence throughout the weekend! This year, our finalists were drawn from all over Europe, either via the online all-EU regional-heat, or from specific events in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Romania.
Our settlement challenge was all about a settlement orbiting the Sun, with interestingly difficult design problems. Collaboration between departments was key and communication was so effective that we tended to forget that everyone else was working in their second or third language.
Saturday’s morning excellent briefing and tech talks were hosted by competition alumni, and, following extensive research and intensive working from the students, led to the Sunday afternoon’s company presentations that we were treated to. The RfP from the Foundation Society was big, technical and ambitious but all teams were impressively ready to field questions from the client’s panel of proposal judges. With people coming from countries in different time zones and far apart, our online finals used video conferencing. We had 7 judges from various countries, who were experts in the space industry, including Barbara Kennedy who works for Sierra Nevada Corp and who judges space proposals as part of her normal real-life job. Our project proposals were judged on their creativity, feasibility, and scientific accuracy. A settlement that orbits the Sun required careful consideration of distance from the Sun, materials’ ability to withstand extreme conditions and, because it was a settlement for conducting R&D, what equipment and resources could be used in those conditions?
The final designs presented by the finalists were diverse and impressive. After long debate by the judges, the winning team, Kepler, was announced. International finalists are drawn from the three teams and will be announced soon: watch this space!
Everyone was intrigued to hear news from judge, Dr Bertrand Goldman of the ISU (International Space University). The opportunities for study featured in an impromptu Q&A, and Barbara also noted opportunities to be mentored or do internships with NASA, as interesting for the staff and volunteers as for the student participants. The post-competition conversations finished on a high note, as warm as the Sun, and without the need for radiation protection!