Mission Accomplished: Crowdsourcing Contest Beams Up New Spacecraft
Boldly going where crowdsourcing hasn’t gone before. A crowdsourcing competition selects a science-fiction inspired design for a new orbiter spacecraft.
National Space Society, United States
The National Space Society started another space race when it launched its Enterprise in Space (EIS) crowdsourcing competition to turn science fiction into science fact. Participants were asked to dream up aesthetics-based designs for the NSS Enterprise Orbiter and submit science fiction-inspired concepts for the spacecraft.
The project relied on the creativity and imagination of participants fueled by their interest in and passion for science fiction. But this wasn't a design contest just for the sake of it: the winning design will actually be built and launched into Earth orbit. It will carry more than 100 student experiments into space and back.
In a nod to Star Trek, it will also be the first real spaceship to bear the name “Enterprise”.
Selecting the Winner
Once the submission stage closed, public voting began which was followed by adjudication of concepts by the Star Judge Panel. Among the judges were EIS Contest Manager Jim Plaxco and EIS Chief Engineer Fred Becker. They based their decisions on a number of criteria.
"The judges evaluated the design submissions based on their engineering practicality, originality, and design aesthetics," said Jim Plaxco. "We debated the merits of the various designs and in the end it took us two rounds of voting to arrive at a consensus."
The Grand Prize winning entry was submitted by Stanley Von Medvey, a concept artist who was inspired by the fields of aerospace and science. The announcement came in February 2015 and by the end of that year EIS had signed a deal with Made in Space, Inc. to extensively use 3D printed components in the construction of the eight-foot-long, 1,000-pound satellite.
Other partners involved in getting the spacecraft off the ground are SpaceWorks Enterprise Inc., Deep Space Industries, Terminal Velocity Aerospace and The Global Aerospace Corporation.
Getting into Space
According to those involved in the project, it will "push the barriers of additive manufacturing and spacecraft design". And once the engineering development and specifications are made from Von Medvey’s design, construction of the craft can begin. To keep up to date with the project, visit the EIS website at www.enterpriseinspace.org.
Picking the Payload
The payload will include experiments selected from a series of student international challenges. Then during the actual mission, NSS Enterprise will communicate with students about the status of their projects using natural language via a cloud-based artificial intelligence platform.
Launch and Mission Completion
The National Space Society are hoping to launch the spacecraft in 2018 and it is expected to stay in space for at least one week.
Following re-entry and retrieval the scientific experiments will be returned to the students, who will analyse and report on the data. The orbiter will then go on a tour of conventions and other events before coming to its final destination in a museum.
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