NSS contests

Join in one of many exciting NSS or NSS-sponsored contests! You can sign up to participate in a currently active contest below.

NSS Gerard K. O’Neill Space Settlement Contest

This annual contest is for all students at up to 12th grade from anywhere in the world. Individuals, small teams of two to five, and large teams of six to twelve are judged separately. The contest was originally run by NASA Ames Research Center from 1994-2018, jointly sponsored by NSS for several years, and is now run exclusively by NSS. Several thousand students take part each year.

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Martine Rothblatt Space Settlement in Our Lifetime Prize Business Plan Competition 2024

This competition will award three monetary prizes for business plans that advance space settlement in our lifetime. This competition is not for merely an idea or a proposal, but for a complete preliminary business plan that outlines your vision and demonstrates its potential as a prosperous business endeavor. Prizes are: $16,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, and $6,000 for third place. Three winning teams will be invited to ISDC 2024 (isdc2024.nss.org) in Los Angeles, CA on May 23-26, 2024 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Rothblatt Competition will pay the travel and hotel expenses for one person representing each of the three winning teams to attend ISDC 2024 to give a presentation and judges attending the presentations will then decide the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams.

International Space Settlement Design Competition

This annual contest puts high school students in the shoes of aerospace industry engineers designing a city in space that will house over 10,000 people. Student engineers demonstrate creativity, technical competence, management skills, environmental knowledge, space, teamwork, and presentation techniques to conquer the problems inherent in siting and designing a Space Settlement (Space Colony).

spUN Student Debates at ISDC

The National Space Society’s SpacEdge Education will be hosting virtual student debate tournaments to be held in late May/early June 2021. These spUN (Space Policy and UNiversalization) Debates will be offered at the middle school/high school level. The spUN Debates offer people around the globe an opportunity to contemplate the policies that will make their mark in space settlement. The development of space policy, the players, the representation of an inclusion of people, the military aspect, and the implications of space policy and development on the governance of Earth are topics that are under consideration for the spUN Debates.

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Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest

The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest has been co-sponsored by NSS and Baen Books since 2007. Science fiction writers who create positive stories about man’s future in space are rewarded with professional publication, NSS membership, and an award presented each year at the ISDC. Winning entries aren’t pulp tales about galactic empires or alien abductions, but serious near future stories about the sacrifice, heroics, adventure and discovery with our expansion into the solar system.  Note that the contest opens on October 1st of each year, and is closed for submissions on February 1st of the following year.


“Live in a Healthy Space” Design Competition

The National Space Society’s “Live in a Healthy Space” Design Competition challenges middle and high school students (ages 12-18) to design one specific component of a space settlement – an Agricultural Module (or area). Deadline: November 30, 2023.

2017 student art contest Transportation Logistics on Mars

Roadmap to Space Art Contest

The SmallSat Education Conference in collaboration with the National Space Society’s SpacEdge Education Program is looking for student artists to create ORIGINAL illustrations to share their Visions of a Future in Space. Open to full-time student between the ages of 10-25. Winning art will be featured at the October 28-29 SmallSat Education Conference