Student academic competitions that involve
space are becoming increasingly common.
Here is a sample or recent examples of such
contests (see the Space
Contests section for space related contests
of all sorts):
The 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. Team Registration
for the competition is now open.
Students must register by August 15th and
submit their design plans by Ocotber 15th.
NASA's Exploration Systems Mission
Directorate is inviting teams of undergraduate
and graduate students throughout the country
to participate in the fourth annual Systems
Engineering Paper Competition. Participants
in the competition will submit a paper on
an Exploration Systems mission topic. The
deadline to register for the competition
is April 16. Papers are due April 23. The
winning teams will be announced in May.
Awards include up to $3,500 in cash scholarships
and VIP invitations to attend a future space
shuttle or rocket launch at NASA's Kennedy
Space Center in Florida. The competition
is designed to engage students in the science,
technology, engineering and math, or STEM,
disciplines critical to NASA's missions.
SpaceX Prepares for First
Launch of Falcon 9/Dragon
Exploration Technologies, i.e. SpaceX,
is preparing for the first launch of its
9 launcher with the Dragon
capsule on top. The company has a contract
with NASA to provide cargo delivery services
to the International Space Station. The
company will carry out four test flights
of the system before it begins regular service
to the station in 2011.
The company also hopes to provide crew
transport services for NASA as well as for
commercial customers such as Bigelow
Aerospace, which plans to orbit a large
manned habitat in 2014. The new NASA budget
proposed by the Obama Administration includes
plans to hold a competition among several
industry teams to provide for taking crews
to the Station by 2015.
Entrepreneur Elon Musk founded SpaceX with
the goal of lowering substantially the cost
of access to space. The company makes most
of the components for its rockets in-house
due to the high prices of standard aerospace
sources. The vehicles are also intended
to be reusable, or at least, refurbishable.
Only about $500M has been spent on development
of the Falcon 9/Dragon system (including
about $280M from NASA), which is about a
factor of ten less than the development
cost of similar vehicles in the industry.
The first two videos below show a recent
successful test firing of the Falcon 9 on
its launch pad at Cape Canaveral. This was
a major milestone as the vehicle prepares
for its first launch sometime in April or
May. The bottom video shows a simulation
of a complete mission to the ISS and the
return of the Dragon capsule.