Students from India win Space Settlement Design Contest

The Grand Prize for the 2011 NASA/NSS Space Settlement Contest went to a  team of seven high school students from Punjab, India, for their double-torus space settlement design called Hyperion. The winning design was selected from 355 submissions from 14 countries.

The Hyperion Space Settlement has a diameter of 1.8 kilometers and would provide a safe and pleasant living and working environment for 18,000 full time residents and an additional population (not to exceed 2,000) of business and official visitors, guests of residents, and vacationers. The settlement would be constructed primarily from lunar materials and be located at the Earth-Moon L4 libration point.

Hyperion Space Settlement
Hyperion Space Settlement

The complete Hyperion design is available for download as a 96-page, 11 MB PDF file.

The winning student team consists of Gaurav Kumar, Deepak Talwar, Harman Jot Singh Walia, Mahiyal B. Singh, Kaenat Seth, Ishaan Mehta, and Navdeep Singh Makkar. They write: “We would like to express thanks to NSS/NASA for this amazing platform that they have created which brings out the best in every individual. It has really helped us chase our dream and bring something we had only imagined to a global stage where it will be judged by the best. We feel elated to be a part of this lifetime experience and that is why we are really grateful to NSS/NASA from the very bottom of our hearts.”

Free Copies Of “The High Frontier” To School Libraries

Attention all teachers:  Free copies of The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space by the late Princeton physicist Gerard K. O’Neill are being offered to high school and college libraries by Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) and the Space Frontier Foundation.

School librarians, teachers, or other school staff or officials that desire to receive a copy for placement in their school library may request the free copy here:

Click on image for request form
Click on image for request form

O’Neill’s book is viewed as one of the seminal works in the modern aerospace industry. First published in 1977, it provided an optimistic ideal of the incredible things that could be accomplished in space even using Apollo era technology, while at the same time providing a roadmap of how we could get there. O’Neill’s work had a great effect on the industry that grew after it, often through the effect it had on those who would grow up to eventually join it. The High Frontier has had an incredible effect on inspiring students into participating in fields in the sciences and aerospace, many of whom have become remarkable contributors to industry and the sciences.

It is hoped that placing these books will inspire students to have more interest in the sciences and aerospace, key to developing the future of our industry. There is no charge for either the book or for shipping.

SEDS and the Space Frontier Foundation received a generous targeted donation for this  joint educational outreach project to distribute copies of the Second Edition of The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space to high school and university libraries across the country currently lacking a copy. The Second Edition (pictured above) was published by the Space Studies Institute in 1989 as a 5×8-inch high-quality trade paperback, with a new introduction and appendix by the author and a Preface by Astronaut Kathy Sullivan.

See also the NSS Review of the Third Edition of The High Frontier.


WASHINGTON — U.S. high school students are invited to participate in NASA’s Interdisciplinary National Science Program Incorporating Research Experience, or INSPIRE, through an online learning community. INSPIRE is designed to encourage students in ninth through 12th grades to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Applications are being accepted through June 30. NASA will make selections for the program in September. The selected students and their parents will participate in an online learning community with opportunities to interact with peers, NASA engineers and scientists. The online community also provides appropriate grade-level educational activities, discussion boards and chat rooms for participants to gain exposure to careers and opportunities available at NASA.

Students selected for the program also will have the option to compete for unique grade-appropriate experiences during the summer of 2012 at NASA facilities and participating universities. The summer experience provides students with a hands-on opportunity to investigate education and careers in the STEM disciplines.

INSPIRE is part of NASA’s education strategy to attract and retain students in the STEM disciplines critical to NASA’s missions.

For more information about INSPIRE, visit:

To apply for the program, visit:

For information about NASA’s education programs, visit:

International SunSat Design Competition

SunSat Design is an international competition intended to accelerate the design, manufacture, launch and operation of the next-generation satellites that will collect energy in space and deliver it to earth as electricity.

Registration Deadline:  January 10, 1011

Design Submission Deadline:  April 4, 2011

Winners will be announced at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference in Huntsville in May.

This Design Project will generate visualizations to aid in the design, manufacture, launch and operation of the new types of satellites that will collect sun’s rays in space and deliver them to earth as a clean and renewable source of energy. These visualizations will also inform the public debate about the way forward for development and implementation of universal access to space-based solar power.

Winning designs will be high-impact digital art, supported by credible science, engineering and business plans, that best promote media understanding and public acceptance of a path forward in using space satellites to deliver energy on-demand to any and all places on earth.

The SunSat Competition is an initiative of The Online Journal of Space Communication in partnership with The Society of Satellite Professionals International, the National Space Society, and the Ohio University GRID Lab.

For more information and registration, go to

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award Competition Begins

From Monday, March 29th through April 9th, YOU have the opportunity to vote for your favorite high school innovators! 24 of the top high school teams have been designing the future. Its not science fiction. Its where education meets innovation and entrepreneurship. Its where real science gets real. Teams have created innovative products to solve some of the grand challenges facing society. From rural water collection devices, to robotic astronaut assistants. From Satellite attitude-control systems to Navajo Solar Frybread Ovens. These students will rock your world! Now, they need YOU to help select the winners of the Spirit of Innovation Awards by voting online for your favorite teams.

Finalists have created videos, blogs, photos and more to show off their products. From March 29 to April 9, you can help a generation of 21st century innovators change the world, one vote at a time. Check out for information on the teams, their products, and to submit your vote.

The Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards combine education, innovation and entrepreneurship by challenging high school students to design products using science and technology. The competition includes platforms in personal spaceflight, lunar exploration, and renewable energy. Teams will compete for over $120,000 of prize money as well as the opportunities to connect with leading scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. The awards create a long term community for students and teachers and also provide resources and opportunities to develop and incubate commercial products.

International Collegiate Solar Power Satellite Design Competition

The International Collegiate Solar Power Satellite Design Competition is open to all undergraduate and graduate students across the globe. This contest puts college students in the shoes of aerospace industry engineers designing a Space-Based Solar Power Satellite which will beam 10MWs of electricity down to Earth. Student engineers demonstrate creativity, technical competence, management skills, space environment knowledge, teamwork, and presentation techniques to conquer the problems inherent in siting and designing a Solar Power Satellite.

Registration for the contest closes August 15 and designs must be submitted by October 15, 2010.

Hubble Sees Suspected Asteroid Collision

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has observed a mysterious X-shaped debris pattern and trailing streamers of dust that suggest a head-on collision between two asteroids. Astronomers have long thought that the asteroid belt is being ground down through collisions, but such a smashup has never been seen before.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt
Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt

See full story.

Why Space Matters

The Coalition for Space Exploration (of which NSS is a member) has released a new PSA video on how space affects our everyday lives. Historically, every dollar spent on space exploration has yielded significant returns in the form of innovations that touch our lives here on Earth. We experience the benefits from space every day, each time we use our GPS systems, talk on our cell phones or get the weather forecast.

See this short video in high definition on You Tube here.

Registration Opened for the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards

The Conrad Foundation, a non-profit science-education and entrepreneurship advocacy organization, announced that it has opened registration for the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards. This competition challenges teams of high school students to create innovative products in four categories: aerospace exploration, space nutrition, renewable energy and green schools. Competing students will be guided through a phased pathway incorporating science, technology, design, marketing and business in an interdisciplinary, project-based product development experience. Teams will be provided the opportunity to meet with and learn from professional scientists and entrepreneurs who will advise them on how to commercialize their products for general market use. Awards are provided to the schools, teachers, and students for the top product designs. Teams and their coaches will compete for more than $100,000 in prize money, opportunities to present their products to world level leaders in business and industry, an opportunity to become a Pete Conrad Scholar, and annual memberships to the ConradFoundation and its official partners, including Sigma Xi, the science and engineering research society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).

“The Conrad Foundation is poised for another successful year for the Spirit of Innovation Awards as we work to bring the tools for success to a new generation of innovators,” said Nancy Conrad, Founder of the Conrad Foundation. “We are bridging the gap between the greatest minds of today and the brightest minds of tomorrow, and together our teams of innovators are designing the future.”

Registration for the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards begins today, and will remain open until December 15, 2009 when all team submissions are due. The Spirit of Innovation Summit and Final Competition will take place on April 8 – April 12, 2010 at the NASA – Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. During this event teams are introduced to leaders in business, industry, science, technology and work in a collaborative, peer-to-peer environment to refine their product concepts. Selected teams are invited to participate in the Conrad Portal and are offered the opportunity to commercialize their products. Recommendations and consultation on interdisciplinary educational pathways and product commercialization will be provided by theConrad Foundation’s official advisory partners: AIAA (Aerospace), Sigma Xi (Science) and NSTA (Education).

Spirit of Innovation Awards

The Glories of Our Journey

By Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto

It is only fitting that just before humanity celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the surface of the Moon, that a current NASA lunar mission acquires imagery dissolving many misconceptions and proving once and for all that the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, arrived on the Moon July 20, 1969.

A  mission dubbed as the “precursor mission” to sending humans to the Moon by 2020, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Cameras (LROC) not only show the Apollo Descent Vehicle left behind by the astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but also depict their tracks while traversing to the ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Science Experiment Package).  ALSEP is a suite of scientific instruments placed by the astronauts at the landing site of each of the five Apollo missions to land on the Moon following Apollo 11 (Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17).  Apollo 11, however, left a smaller, temporary package called the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package, or EASEP.

Four times enlargement of an uncalibrated LROC NAC image showing the Apollo 14 lunar module (LM Antares) and the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP). Note the astronaut tracks between the two artifacts [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].Apollo 11 (UL; 282 meters wide), Apollo 15 (UR; 384 meters wide), Apollo 16 (ML; 256 meters wide), Apollo 17 (MR; 359 meters wide), Apollo 14 (Bottom; 538 meters wide) [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].What is so unique about LRO’s cameras is that they take pictures at a much higher resolution than previous lunar missions.  This is crucial in order to determine if new craters within the time the Apollo astronauts walked the surface of the Moon were formed as well as how the lunar equipment left behind has held up all these years within the harsh environment on the lunar surface.

Mapping the Apollo landing sites has come at a most appropriate time when the world has experienced such economic uncertainty and NASA’s human exploration program is in jeopardy.  Such imagery is crucial to educate and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers. So much time has passed that two generations of the world’s population would begin to consider humans walking the surface of the Moon just a folktale.  It is imperative to keep human exploration to the Moon, Mars and beyond in the legislative language and to ensure that educators, students and members of the general public are kept on the same page as NASA in order to ensure that there are no interruptions in human missions again.  Forty years is too long of a time span to not go back to the Moon.  Especially when it is Earth’s nearest celestial body – only 3.5 days to be exact!

I learned a very important lesson in my planetary geology class at Arizona State University which I have translated back to visitors at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Science Operation Center.  As my mentor informed us, there are three phases of exploration.

The first phase is Observation and we can thank Galileo for that with the invention of the telescope.  Many have observed the Earth’s moon via the telescope for centuries.  The next phase of human exploration is Reconnaissance.  This is where we get our lunar orbiters and landers.  When we want to explore further and closer to the object we are interested in sending humans to we send an armada of spacecraft and surface landers to that planet or moon in order to determine if it is safe for humans to live and work on, what resources are available, and if we can harvest those resources for the betterment of those living on Earth.  The final phase of exploration is Human Exploration to that planet or moon of interest.

Therefore, when it comes to Earth’s moon, we have already completed these three phases of exploration!  Theoretically, you would think that it would only be natural for us to go back and continue our goals of exploring the Moon with increased frequency.  Right?  Hopefully, with the spectacular imagery being obtained by LROC, we will again start to explore and educate the way we did when Neil and Buzz walked the surface of the Moon.  And remember…LROC is still in its Commissioning Phase.  Which means that in just a couple of months we will be in our Nominal Phase of the mission where we will take even more exciting images of the lunar surface at even higher resolution!  So stay tuned!

Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto is a senior undergraduate student at Arizona State University within the School of Earth and Space Exploration who currently works on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission within the LROC Science Operations Center.  She is also the Chapter President for the National Space Society of Phoenix.