Winners! NASA “Best Mission Concept”

We’re over the moon that, in the final global judging phase undertaken by NASA executives we’ve been selected as winners of the 2014 International Space Apps Challenge in the “Best Mission Concept” Category.

Last month myself (in my role as Director of Human Spaceflight Operations for the Unlimited Space Agency) and Professor Jon Rogers (UNSA’s Head of Hack) led a team of technologists, software designers and fashion designers from Exeter College in NASA’s global Space Apps Challenge at the Met Office site in Exeter.

Our aim was to create internet connected space clothing that is not only useful for astronauts working on the International Space Station but also looks super cool. Features on the suit (which is sewn using conductive thread to carry power and data to the integrated devices) include a 3D printer in the pocket to deliver tools and gifts directly to the astronauts and a “wearable hug” that squeezes the astronaut’s shoulders when a family member sends a command from Earth.

We were joined over the two day event by UNSA’s patron, the British and European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake, who consulted on design for the suit that we’re now going to take to another stage of development and (hopefully!) Tim will be able to wear it when he flies to the International Space Station in 2015.

Of UNSA’s work, Tim says:
“The Unlimited Space Agency is great. Their approach to inspiring children about science is rigorous, fun and it works! I’m proud to serve with them on their mission to inspire the next generation of scientists and space explorers.”

We are also developing an internet connected mission patch celebrating Tim’s mission as the first British astronaut to visit the ISS. The patch can be worn by supporters on Earth and activates blinking LEDs when the ISS flies over the wearer’s location. Which we think is pretty cool.

As winners, we’ve been invited to be guests at the launch of the Space X resupply mission at Cape Canaveral in September. So if anyone would like to support us actually getting to that by paying for flights to the USA then we’d love to hear from you!

You can see more details of the connected space suit and other projects we’re running with the Unlimited Space Agency project here.

We’re delighted to have won. While we’re proud leaders of the project, it was a truly collaborative effort and is further evidence of the power of art, play and storytelling to inspire engagement with science. The support we received in particular from the Met Office and the Faculty of Arts & Design at Exeter College was inspirational.

And on a personal level, it takes me one step closer to my personal goal of getting into space!



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