The Student Astronaut Challenge is an aero-space based competition sponsored by Florida State University and presented with cooperation from NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. The focus of the competition is the mobile Space Flight Simulator which was designed to replicate the retired NASA Space Shuttle.
For the last six years, up to 200 Middle and High school students each year have converged at the Kennedy Space Center in February to compete in the Astronaut Challenge. Teams from as far south as Miami to as far north as Savanah, Georgia have traveled to Titusville to see who has the right stuff. In 2015 and 2017 guest teams from Dublin, Ireland traveled to the Kennedy Space Center to compete in the competition.
Challenge One consists of three rounds (including a semi-final and final) where teams are required to perform the pre-flight operation, launch, orbit and landing of the Space Shuttle Enterprise flight simulator and the operation and responsibilities of the mission control team. During the semi-final and final rounds, students are provided with in-flight emergencies that must be managed to safely complete their mission.
Challenge Two is a hands-on challenge where students are provided an aerospace related problem. Working as two teams – mission control and Skylab flight crew - they are required to use teamwork and collaboration to solve a series of challenges and reach a solution.
Challenge Three consists of three challenges:
Part One - a physical design challenge to solve a specific space-related issue. Teams submit a typed design proposal due approximately 2 weeks before the finals competition and present their solution, including a prototype model, to a team of judges during the competition.
Part Two - a mailbox design challenge to create a mailbox for a specific space-related theme as part of the Blue Origins "Post Cards into Space" clubs. The prototype will be constructed and used at their school and the mailed post cards will be flown on a Blue Origins flight and returned to the school for mailing. Teams will present their design proposal with photographs to a team of judges during the competition.
Part Three - a patch design challenge to create a team flight patch related to a specific space-related theme. Teams will present a color drawing of their patch along with a their design description to a team of judges during the competition. The patch design will be judged based on NASA's mission flight patch criteria and its relevance to the theme.
Challenge Four consists of two rounds (including run-offs and finals) where team members work in pairs to perform one of three types of landings of the Space Shuttle Enterprise flight simulator and the operation and responsibilities of the mission control team.
The all-volunteer staff of the Student Astronaut Challenge is continually looking for educational partners and sponsors to support the challenge and help this worthwhile program grow. If you are interested feel free to contact us.
Each year the Student Astronaut Challenge reaches out for donor support to ensure that all schools, regardless of ability to pay, can participate in the Astronaut Challenge. There are various areas where groups, organizations or individuals can help support this worthwhile program.
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