NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest
Co-Sponsored by San Jose State University
and the National Space Society
Watch this space for contest news. Note the following:
- The 2018 deadline has passed. Watch this page for 2018 results. Hopefully they will be available by 10 March. Possibly earlier.
- Everyone who entered is entitled to a participant certificate. Click here to get your certificate. Important: if you win 1st, 2nd, 3rd, honorable mention or the grand prize we will send a custom certificate to you. This is separate from the participant certificates.
- In 2019 we hope to go electronic, no more paper submissions. Stay tuned to this web site.
This annual contest, co-operated by NASA Ames Research Center,
San Jose State University, and the National Space Society (NSS)
is for all students up to 12th grade (18 years old) from anywhere in the world. Individuals, small teams of two to five, and large teams of
six or more are judged separately.
Entries are also grouped by age/grade of the oldest contestant for judging. The age groups are 7th and under, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th. The grand prize
is awarded to the best entry regardless of contestant age.
Students develop space settlement designs and related materials.
These are sent to NASA Ames for judgement. Submissions must be received by February 15.
Check out the results of the
Contest deadline, prizes and certificates:
- All submissions must be received by February 15.
- A NASA certificate will be sent to all winners. By default we send paper certificates to the address on the entry form.
You can opt to receive your certificates as pdfs sent to your email address, which is much faster and more reliable. There is a check box on the entry form to request a pdf which is checked by default.
- Participant certificates will be distributed
in pdf from this web page on the honor system.
- The best submission, regardless of category, wins the grand prize, consisting of the space settlement submission being placed on the NASA Ames World Wide Web site.
- The National Space Society (NSS) invites all 2018 contest participants to attend the NSS 37th annual
International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Los Angeles, USA May 24-27, 2018.
Every year, hundreds of contestants attend, along with their parents, teachers, siblings and friends.
Special activities for contestants are planned, including:
These activities are not yet finalized and may change. Nonetheless, this is a tremendous opportunity to present your work, meet some of the most
important people in space development as well as your fellow contestants, and have a great time.
- If the Grand Prize winner(s) come(s) to ISDC, they will receive the $3,000
NSS Bruce M. Clark, Jr. Memorial Space Settlement Award.
This is subject to change this year. If a team wins, the funds will be evenly divided amongst them. Reminder: the Grand Prize winner must attend ISDC to receive this award.
- The highest ranking winners attending will be invited to give oral presentations as time is available.
- To the extent space is available, all contestants who attend will be invited to display a poster of their work.
- Special sessions are arranged for contestants, teachers, parents, etc.
If you are planning to attend ISDC 2018, please see the ISDC Space Settlement Students Web Site.
Only if necessary, contact email@example.com.
Note: Contestants are responsible for all travel arrangements and costs, visas and conference expenses. Also, minors (children under 18) must be accompanied by
a responsible adult (21 years or older). Among other potential problems, the hotel may not allow check in without an adult in the party.
Students from outside of U.S. planning on attending the ISDC should apply as soon as possible for a passport and (if necessary) a visa.
It may take some time (months) to acquire them.
If you need a letter of invitation, please use the form at
ONLY if that does not work, requests for letters of invitation
can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org along with the school name, address, and names of students,
teachers, or family members needing the letter.
- Contest categories are
Additional categories based on artistic and literary merit are also included in the contest.
- 7th grade and under: individual, small group, large group,
- 8th grade: individual, small group, large group,
- 9th grade: individual, small group, large group,
- 10th grade: individual, small group, large group,
- 11th grade: individual, small group, large group,
- 12th grade: individual, small group, large group.
- Contestants give NASA the right to publish their submissions without restriction as a condition for entering the contest.
- For additional information see the rest of this page and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Here are some of the grand prize entries from previous years:
- Submissions must relate to orbital settlements. Settlements may not be on a planet or moon. Settlements must be permanent homes,
not temporary work camps. Submissions may focus on one or a few aspects of space settlement and supporting systems, including mines, activities leading up to settlement (such as space
hotels), economic and social issues, etc.
- Designs, original research, essays, stories, models, artwork or any other orbital space settlement related materials may be submitted.
- Submissions must be made in hard copy.
No electronic submissions are accepted under any circumstances. This includes Power Point presentations,
discs, CD's, DVD, videos or anything but paper. NASA does not return contestant submissions.
However, you may create an electronic project, such as a video or web site, and send us a hard copy
description of the project. The description should include images and text to describe the project in sufficient detail for
judgement. If your electronic project is web accessible, you may include the URL. It will not be used for
judging, but NASA may, at its discretion, link to your project from the contest results page.
- Two copies of the entry form with the appropriate information must
be included with the submission; one firmly attached to the submission and one loosely attached (for example, with a paper clip).
Be sure to fill out all fields. Please type if at all possible. Use a separate sheet if necessary.
- The submission must be the student's own work. Plagiarism is forbidden. No part of an entry may
copied with one exception:
You may quote short passages, but only if the material is surrounded in double quotes (") and the source indicated.
For example: "This material copied from somewhere," My Favorite Space Book. Quoted materials should rarely be more
than a few lines, and never longer than a few paragraphs. Quoting long passages is forbidden. Entries caught plagiarizing, even one part of a
large entry, will be
disqualified and disposed of.
- Instructors, mentors or parents may assist the student by presenting relevant resources, discussing core concepts and suggesting minor edits, but the work itself must be entirely student produced.
- Always include a bibliography.
- Submissions are not returned. Keep a copy for yourself.
- All decisions by the judges are final.
You may use other people's ideas in your entry, but not other people's writing. You may use images from the web, but please credit the source.
In recent years plagiarism, copying other people's writing rather than doing your own, has become a serious problem.
Every year up to 30% of all entries are caught copying materials from the web. They are eliminated from the competition.
To avoid plagiarism, we recommend that you
In other words: always write it yourself. Note that
copying material and changing a few words here and there is also plagiarism. Write your own material!
- Never use copy/paste for any text in your project.
- Never write your project while looking at anybody else's text.
- Never memorize a passage and type it into your project.
We expect teachers to check every project from their students for plagiarism and not permit entries with plagiarism to be sent to NASA.
To check for plagiarism look for places where the English is very
good and/or is a different style from the rest of the project.
Use Google (or other search engine) by surrounding 6-8 suspect words with double quotes,
"text I think might be plagiarised by someone." If there is a perfect match, then look at the source material to make sure there wasn't an
accidental match. Most of the time it will be plagiarism and must be removed from the project. There are also
some automated plagiarism detectors available on the web. Consider using them. Please do not send us plagiarized material!
Plagiarism is particularly sad for teams when one team member plagiarizes and the others are ethical.
For teams, we recommend that students check each other for plagiarism.
Resources and Tips
- Avoid excessively long entries. The judges will be instructed to prefer projects with less than 100 pages over
longer ones. That said, 100 pages is not a hard limit. If you need more than 100 pages to express your ideas, then
use as many pages as you need.
- If your entry is longer than 5-10 pages, consider including a one page executive summary on the best features of your entry.
Be sure to include original ideas, major focus, and any parts particularly well done in the executive summary.
This will help the judges find the best parts of your entry.
- Avoid including material not directly related to your space settlement or settlement related issue. This is a space settlement contest and marginally related material
will make it difficult for the judges. If they can't find your space settlement elements easily you won't score well.
- Refer to the NASA Ames Space Settlement Page
- Refer to the NSS Space Settlement Journal, a peer reviewed, open access journal on all aspects of space settlement.
- Refer to Free-Space Settlements by Al Globus (head judge).
- Refer to the NSS Space Settlement Library
- Refer to the head judge's advice.
- Use the space settlement teacher's page.
- Refer to the NSS Library.
- Refer to the Generic Earth Orbiting Space Settlement Requirements by Anita Gale.
- Models are hard to handle and expensive to ship. Consider sending pictures of your model.
If you must send the whole model, make it strong. Fragile models are frequently demolished during shipping or transport.
Submissions are not returned. NASA is not responsible for the loss or damage to any submission.
- Do your best to get the science right.
- Make your design as quantitative as possible.
- Include a bibliography. We want to know where you got your ideas and materials.
- Be creative. Surprise the judges. Put something of your own personality into your work.
- Consider designing a colony that you would really like to live in.
- Consider alternate possibilities and clearly describe why you made the choices you did.
- Present your material clearly and neatly.
- When you discuss someone else's ideas or work, which almost all entries do, reference it. We recommend a reference format along the lines of "[author year]." For example, you might write:
Small children may not to be allowed in the center of the cylinder since radiation levels are minimized near the hull [Horia 2005].
Then in the References section at the end of your paper put:
[Horia 2005] Horia Mihail Teodorescu and Al Globus, "Radiation Passive Shield Analysis and Design for Space Applications," SAE 2005 Transactions Journal of Aerospace.
- If you use someone else's image, add "Image credit" to give credit where credit is due.
- Use the entry form. If we don't know who you are we won't be able to send you your prizes and certificates.
Be sure to firmly attach a copy of the entry form to each part of your submission plus one additional copy loosely unattached
(perhaps with a paper clip).
For example, if you have a report and artwork, attach an entry form to each
so that if they get separated during handling, we will be able to put them back together.
Please type if at all possible. Use a separate sheet if necessary.
- Submissions must be received by February 15.
- All decisions by the judges are final.
- Have fun.
Send a hard copy of your entry and two
hard copies of a filled out entry form (one firmly attached to your entry and the other loosely attached,
perhaps with a paper clip) to:
NASA Ames Research Center
Al Globus/Mail Stop 262-4 or
Lauren Claudatos/Mail Stop 262-4
Bldg. 262, Rm. 269
Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001
Entries must arrive by February 15.
If your courier service needs a street address, use 'Allen Rd'.
NOTE: we do not send verification that
entries have been received. Please don't ask for one. If you want to know if the entry has arrived, use a service that requires a signature.
Teachers using the contest in their class should submit all projects together. Note: electronic submission is not allowed, only hard copy.
Space settlements are permanent communities in orbit, as opposed to living on the Moon or other planets. The work of Princeton physicist Dr. O'Neill and others have shown that such colonies are technically feasible, although expensive. Settlers of this high frontier are expected to live inside large air-tight rotating structures holding hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people along with the animals, plants, and single celled organisms vital to comfort and survival. There are many advantages to living in orbit: zero-g recreation, environmental independence, plentiful solar energy, and terrific views to name a few. There is plenty of room for everyone who wants to go; the materials from a single asteroid can build space colonies with living space equal to about 500 times the surface area of the Earth.
Why should settlements be in orbit? Mars and our Moon have a surface gravity far below Earth normal. Children raised in low-g will not develop bones and muscles strong enough to visit Earth comfortably. In contrast, orbital colonies can be rotated to provide Earth normal pseudo-gravity in the main living areas.
We hope teachers will make this contest part of their lesson plan. While designing a space colony, students will have a chance to study physics, mathematics, space science, environmental science, and many other disciplines. We would like students outside the science classes to participate as well. Thus, contest submissions may include designs, essays, stories, models, and artwork. Students can design entire colonies or focus on one aspect of orbital living. A class or school may submit a joint project where small teams tackle different areas in a coordinated fashion. For example, consider a cross curriculum project where science classes design the basic structure and support systems, art students create pictures of the interior and exterior, English students write related short stories, social studies students develop government and social systems, Industrial Technology builds a scale model, and the football team proposes low-g sports.
We are soliciting testimonials of experiences with this contest. If you have something to say about your experience with this contest,
send an email to email@example.com. Do not use this email for general inquiries, testimonials
only! Selected testimonials
will be posted on the
NSS web site and/or used in a scientific paper on the contest. Accepted testimonials may be edited for English and clarity.
Other Space Settlement Contests
Colleges and Universities offering space science astronautics programs.
A National educational, training, and research resource for college undergraduate and graduate students, dedicated to promoting current and future opportunities for innovation and leadership in aerospace-related careers.
The space settlement home page.
Additional Space Settlement sites include:
We would like to thank the
San Jose State University Research Foundation,
NASA Ames Contractor Council
and National Space Biomedical Research Institute for their generous and critical support.
Author: Al Globus
Curator: Al Globus
NASA Responsible Official: Dr. Ruth Globus
If you find any errors on this page contact Al Globus.
This mirror of the NASA Ames Research Center Space Settlement web site is provided by: