Report from SSEF’s staffer, Sam Hession who accompanied the SSEF teams to the ISSDC 2023
Hey there, space enthusiasts!
We at the SSEF (Space Science Education Foundation) are over the moon (pun intended) to share our incredible adventure at the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) held in July 2023. Buckle up as we take you on an intergalactic ride to the prestigious Kennedy Space Center in Florida!
In Florida but before the competition officially kicked off, our teams from the UK, EU, and Africa had a blast exploring the surrounding area and bonding. What made it even more extraordinary? Witnessing not one but two rocket launches!
The highlight was the spectacular Falcon Heavy Rocket by SpaceX on July 28th, lifting off at 11.04 PM. We gathered at William J. Manzo Memorial Park, arriving early to listen to the countdown live from Mission Control. As the rocket roared to life, our hearts soared with it. We even caught the low-frequency sonic booms and watched two boosters gracefully land back on Earth. Talk about a stellar start!
With the rocket show setting the stage, our students were pumped for the ISSDC. Anita Gale, one of the founding members, welcomed us with stories of the event’s illustrious history and her late husband, the legendary Dick Edwards. We dived into department breakdowns within our companies, getting ready for the lunar settlement challenge.
At lunch, the Request for Proposal (RfP) was released. With hearts pounding and minds racing, our students embarked on the thrilling mission of designing a lunar settlement. Nearly 200 students, split across three companies, worked tirelessly, some joining us online. They had from Saturday lunchtime until Monday morning to craft their designs and prepare presentations for the esteemed Judging Panel.
**A Cosmic Marathon**
The next two days were a whirlwind of activity, with students shuttling between Kennedy Space Center and our hotel. They tackled the challenge head-on, fully embracing the spirit of competition. Our teams—UKSDC, EUSDC, and AFSDC—were not just competing; they were pushing the boundaries of innovation and creativity. Sunday night saw most of them burning the midnight oil, adding the finishing touches to their designs and presentations.
Come Monday morning at Kennedy Space Center, you could see a few bleary-eyed faces, but spirits remained high. Students, dressed in their finest, arrived armed with their final presentations, ready to impress the Judging Panel.
The presentations were out of this world! Each student company had collaborated seamlessly to produce innovative and exceptional lunar settlement designs, worthy of any space industry contract. It was a nail-biting finish, but only one company could secure the coveted contract, and it was Dougledyne Fletchel company which included the members of our EU team, so there was much to celebrate.
**A Cosmic Congratulations**
To all the students who participated in the ISSDC from the UK, Africa, and Europe, we tip our astronaut helmets to you! Your diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives shone brightly throughout the event. The journey to the ISSDC is paved with dedication, teamwork, and an unbridled passion for exploring the cosmos. We, at the SSEF, are incredibly proud to have met and gotten to know this extraordinary group of young space enthusiasts.
Stay tuned for more cosmic adventures, and remember, the sky is not the limit; it’s just the beginning!