International Space Settlement Design Competition


When an organization or government wishes to create a big new thing or perform a big new project, they don't do it themselves: they hire someone. How do they know who to hire? They issue a "Request for Proposal" which is precisely what it sounds like: a plea for companies to propose a solution to their problem. Real companies (often called "government contractors") research the problem, design solutions, and then create a document that is their proposal for creating or building the "big new thing". The government (or whoever) then chooses one of the proposals and grants that organization a "contract" to implement their solution. These contracts often run into billions of dollars.

The International Space Settlement Design Competition is all about creating one of these proposals: a response to a request to build a space settlement.


Just as in industry, competing teams submit designs in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP), which describes exactly what the customer wants to see in the design.

Qualifying Competition teams may be of any size (from a few students to many dozen). The 12 teams that qualify for the Finalist Competition will be limited to 12 high school students each, with two adult advisors. Teams are advised to select members with diverse experiences and/or interests; successful designs balance structural integrity, operating efficiency, use of computers and robotics, and pleasant living conditions. Prior Competitions have shown that it will also be helpful to have at least one good artist and/or one good writer on your team.

The 12 Finalist teams will be informed by e-mail. The Finalist teams are responsible for arranging their own round trip transportation to Nassau Bay, Texas, near NASA Johnson Space Center. Lodging and meals will be complimentary during the Finalist Competition for each team's twelve students and two advisors.

Competition organizers and sponsoring organizations retain rights to publish or otherwise use any materials prepared in connection with this Competition.

The Competition

This competition takes place in a simulated future year (see the RFP for exact dates). Technological advancements beyond the current state of the art have accrued. The contents of these links describe technologies the judges will accept in your design. Any other technologies assumed in your design must be fully justified (for example, if you plan to use `warp drive', you must explain how it is constructed).

The basic products, vehicles, and structures described for this competition are technically possible within the timeframes indicated. They do, however, represent ambitious technical, economic, and political commitments. Some will never happen, some will. Some are projects that Design Competition participants who become engineers will work on during their careers. The company Northdonning Heedwell, including its product line and history, is based on a composite of real corporations, projected into the future. There is no such organization as the Foundation Society. The described efforts by the Foundation Society to foster commercial space infrastructure development could, however, be accomplished by other existing organizations.

Your proposal will be judged by engineers from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Houston (Texas) Section. They work in and near NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and are familiar with the current state of the art, so please base your design on reasonable interpretations of the level of existing technology defined here, the laws of Physics, and common sense.