3 mins read 03 Sep 2021

Inspiring the next generation of spacecraft builders and explorers

The 2021 International SpaceCRAFT Exploration Challenge will give students the opportunity to participate in design and space exploration challenges through a five-day virtual reality program that features astronauts and scientists.

International SpaceCRAFT Exploration Challenge. Credit: bradmurphy73/Twitter.

Young people across Australia will now have the opportunity to participate in a global space-based challenge where they learn about exploration and science across our Solar system through the International SpaceCRAFT Exploration Challenge.  

Former NASA astronaut Dr Gregory Chamitoff is running the challenge for aspiring astronauts and space scientists through his Space Teams program. He has logged 198 days in space and is now using his experience and expertise to inspire the next generation of astronauts.

SpaceCRAFT is a new collaborative virtual reality system designed to simulate our universe. This system will allow the students participating in the International SpaceCRAFT Exploration Challenge to experience technology for future space missions as well as the real physics associated with the planets they explore.

Between September 20 - 25, participants aged 12 and up will take part in a variety of lessons and talks from astronauts and NASA scientists. The lessons, which start at 10 am daily, cover a variety of materials across the fields of planetary science, spacecraft design and assembly, orbital mechanics and remote sensing, atmospheric entry and landing, habitat construction, and surface exploration.

There will also be virtual activities for the participants to complete. These include designing their own spacecraft and mission, working out how to get to another planet, land a vehicle, and build a habitat. They will then get to virtually explore the planet they land on to look for resources that would allow humans to settle and live there.

The challenge is not only about learning how space exploration missions work, but about inspiring students to pursue STEM degrees and careers and build their interest in the emerging space sector. The challenge focuses on learning by completing actual tasks that mission scientists would have to complete and gives students a unique insight into what being an astronaut or space scientist is like. 

Students will work in teams of up to 10, though smaller teams of around 4 are recommended. The teams are able to connect with each other virtually throughout the challenge. Participants can register as a team or individually and be placed in a team.

The challenge is supported by the One Giant Leap Australia Foundation which Dr Chamitoff is also the patron of. One Giant Leap Australia work to build and maintain student interest in STEM and develop skills for working in STEM fields.

Registration for the SpaceCRAFT Challenge is open until September 13th.

Register for the program here