2010-11 Competition

Stage 1: The Application Stage

In 2011 a new application procedure was introduced to give prospective participants the opportunity to demonstrate their design and presentation skills before arriving at Imperial College London. Students were asked to record a 3-minute video, briefing passengers for a six-month cruise to Mars. The Request for Proposal was:

Imagine that you are Travel Agents selling a six-month cruise to Mars. The presentation is the briefing that the company gives to the passengers before they leave. Consider such things as: Why might the passengers want to go? What might they do during the cruise? What might they see and what are some of the dangers they might be subjected to?

Despite presenting prospective participants with quite a demanding challenge at such an early stage of the competition, we received some absolutely fantastic videos for 2010-11 and it was great to see students getting so engaged and enthusiastic about their work. It certainly wasn’t easy to decide who to invite to the UK Space Design Competition finals in London!

Stage 2:The UK Space Design Competition Final 2011

UKSDC 2011 welcomed 154 students from 17 schools to Imperial College London over the weekend of 5-6th March 2011.

uksdc2011_20After arriving at Imperial College London early on Saturday morning, each team was assigned to one of the four simulated design companies described below. The students’ first task was to sub-divide that company into four different operational departments (structural engineering, operations engineering, human engineering, automation engineering) and to appoint a student president to manage the company’s efforts.

Given that most participants had never even met each other before, let alone worked out each other’s personal strengths and weaknesses, guidance on how to do this was provided by the company CEO. But even at this very early stage of the competition, the final decisions to be made were all very much the students’ own.

Vulture Aviation: Cardiff Sixth Form College, Meldrum Academy, Moreton School, Sawston Village College (President: Greg Barett, Cardiff Sixth Form College)

Dougledyne-Flechtel: Seven Kings High School, Rye St. Anthony, King Edward VI Five Ways, Haydon School, City of London Academy (President: Joseph Dudley, City of London Academy)

Grumbo Aerospace: Pates Grammar School, Sheringham High, Lumen Christi College, City of London Academy, Chatham Grammar School for Boys (President: Amy Gregg, Pate’s Grammar School)

Rockdonnell Aerospace: Queen Elizabeth’s School, Riddlesdown Collegiate, Haberdashers’ Aske’s, Wallington County Grammar School (President: Matthew Lane, Riddlesdown Collegiate)

Once they knew what company and department they would be working in, all competition participants attended an intensive departmental training session led by a subject-specific expert from either industry or academia. These sessions taught the students everything that they would need to know about the role of their assigned department within the company while a second session covered some of the personal and social skills that would help them function as a team.

uksdc2011_40The  students returned to their company headquarters at around noon on Saturday and were given their first copy of the all-important Request for Proposal. This document asked the students to design a orbiting space station in a solar orbit that periodically passes close to both the Earth and Mars, thereby allowing up to 8,500 residents to travel between the two planets in a period of roughly 80 days.

Over the course of the weekend, all four companies worked to create some absolutely fantastic designs and some incredible presentations. As with the 2009-10 competition that preceded it, most students chose to eat their lunch and dinner on the job at Imperial College London and generally chose to work overnight on their designs as well, either at home or in hotel rooms. The students’ dedication was truly inspirational.

The judging panel, which included representatives from the International Space Settlement Design Competition, the UK Space Agency, and Imperial College London, listened to a 30 minute presentation from each company early on Sunday morning. After much deliberation and some quite intensive questioning, they selected a weary-eyed Grumbo Aerospace to advance onto the international phase of the competition at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

The winning design featured a rotating torus with a radius of 500m called Cassandras, assembled in lunar orbit over a period of 12 years. Cassandras got its power from an array of solar panels and, as per the design requirements, was propelled through space by a prototype fusion engine. On board social facilities included restaurants, a gym, shopping mall, places of worship and library.

In addition to this, the Dick Edward’s Leadership Award, named after one of the late founders of the international competition, was given to the following students:

Matthew Glenin, Riddlesdown Collegiate
Zartash Javaid, Cardiff Sixth Form College
Chris Leach, Sheringham High School
Dan Goss, Seven Kings High School

uksdc2011_74The president of Grumbo Aerospace, Amy Gregg from Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham, said “I didn’t even think we’d get this far. It’s just incredible. I’m really happy and I’m really proud of my team. We had so few people and loads of work! I’m just really, really happy!”. Amy later wrote the following article about her competition experiences for the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) website.

Stage 3: The 18th International Space Settlement Design Competition

The 18th International Space Settlement Design Competition took place over the weekend of July 29-31st at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in America. Twelve students from Grumbo Aerospace flew to Houston with Organising Chair Elizabeth Luthman and had a fantastic time at the event, including plenty of time for sightseeing and exploration at the Space Center Houston Visitor Center.

At the international competition, the UK students quickly found themselves back at square one. As part of a new  company called Dougledyne-Fletchel, and working with colleagues from the USA, Ukraine and Pakistan, the team now had to design a new space settlement with all of the added complexities (and rewards!) of working with students from other cultures and backgrounds too.

Together, the team came up with a fantastic design and a brilliant presentation to meet the Request for Proposal and, even though they didn’t win, they all reported having an absolutely fantastic time. Well done to everyone who represented the UK at this event!

If you were a member of the 2011 UK International team and have any photos, please get in contact with us. We’d love to include them.