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2017 Caltech Space Challenge

04-03-17

Last week 32 students from around the world met up at Caltech for the 2017 Caltech Space Challenge. This year’s competition involved designing a launch-and-supply station—dubbed Lunarport—for future space missions. Lunar in-situ resource utilization could allow larger payloads to be launched from Earth, bringing deep-space a little closer for human exploration. The Caltech student organizers were Ilana Gat and Thibaud Talon. The Caltech and JPL faculty advisers were Professor Paul Dimotakis, Dr. Jakob van Zyl, and Dr. Anthony Freeman. It was an extremely close competition but Team Explorer was finally called the winner because their business plan and cost estimates were more realistic than those of Team Voyager. [Pasadena Weekly] [Radio interview with Ilana Gat] [Caltech story]

Tags: GALCIT Paul Dimotakis Space Challenge Jakob van Zyl Ilana Gat Thibaud Talon Anthony Freeman

2015 Caltech Space Challenge

03-30-15

For one week at the end of March, 32 students from 20 universities and 14 countries came to Caltech for an intensive training experience in space mission design: the Caltech Space Challenge. The teams—Team Explorer and Team Voyager—were tasked with designing a manned mission to an asteroid placed in orbit around the moon. Aside from determining details such as the best type of vehicle to use, the optimal launch date, and how to keep the astronauts safe, each team was asked to explain how its mission would explore and make use of the asteroid to enable future missions to more distant locales, such as Mars. In the end, Team Voyager came out slightly ahead of Team Explorer. According to the jury, the deciding factor was Team Voyager's presentation and success in turning their technically detailed report into a compelling story for the audience. [Caltech Story] [Voyager's presentation] [Explorer's presentation]

Tags: GALCIT Space Challenge

2013 Caltech Space Challenge

04-02-13

This year's Caltech Space Challenge was led by Aerospace graduate students Nick Parziale and Jason Rabinovitch. The competition divided 32 students from 21 different universities into two teams: Voyager and Explorer. The teams had to devise a detailed plan to send astronauts to one of Mars' two moons, Phobos or Deimos. Team Voyager was announced as the winner at a reception at the Athenaeum after each team presented their plan to a jury of space experts. [Space.com article] [Pasadena Star-News article] [Pasadena Sun article]

Tags: GALCIT Space Challenge Nick Parziale Jason Rabinovitch

2011 Caltech Space Challenge

09-20-11

The Caltech Space Challenge was a Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop led by Aerospace graduate students Prakhar Mehrotra and Jon Mihaly. It brought together two teams of students from around the world to develop plans for deep-space missions that could carry humans to an asteroid and back. Both teams planned missions to an asteroid known as 1999 AO10, which is between 45 and 100 meters in length and is thought to have a relatively slow spin rate. Since relatively little is known about this asteroid, both teams called for robotic precursor missions that could gather information needed to help plan the later human mission. The competing mission descriptions, from Team Explorer and Team Voyager, were so evenly matched that the jurors had to use three different judging methods to finally settle on a winner. In the end, the victory and shiny new iPads went to Team Voyager. [Caltech Feature] [NPR Broadcast]

Tags: GALCIT KISS Prakhar Mehrotra Jon Mihaly Space Challenge