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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.
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.
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.
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. No more than 12 students on a project. (This year only: if you have already started with more than 12 students and win, reply to the winner notification email to get a certificate with all the student’s names.) Entries are also grouped by age/grade of the oldest contestant for judging. The age groups are 7th and younger, 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.
Opportunity is About:
Candidates should be from:
Description of Ideal Candidate:
Contest categories are:
- 7th grade and younger: 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.
Additional categories based on artistic and literary merit are also included in the contest.
Deadline: February 15, 2022
Cost/funding for participants:
Contest deadline, prizes and certificates:
- All submissions must be received by February 15.
- A pdf certificate will be sent to all winners.
- 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 contest World Wide Web site.Contestants will be invited to the International Space Development Conference. Unfortunately the 2020 conference was canceled and the 2021 conference will be virtual due to the coronavirus situation. Therefore, all 2020, 2021 and 2022 contestants are invited to the 2022 conference and the virtual 2021 conference as well.
- Every year, hundreds of contestants attend, along with their parents, teachers, siblings and friends. Special activities for contestants are planned, including:
- 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.
- The highest ranking attending entry will receive the Herman Rubin Award of $5,000 and give a plenary talk at one of the conference's signature events.