UK Space Design Challenge

On the 2 December a handful of Sixth Form students made their way to Imperial College London for an 8am meet-up to be briefed on the UK Space Design Competition. We prepared for a task to begin building a Lunar self-sustaining settlement as a company entitled ‘Rockdonnell’. We were paired with another group of students from Archbishop Tenison’s School with the first task being to select management roles in the company. We began to get into the swing of things with the Head Boy, Seb Zane elected as company President, Rob Horn as one of the Vice Presidents, Alasdair Thomson as Director of Automation, Louis Sayer as Director of Operations and Matteo Samani as Director of Human Engineering. The rest of the Eltham team (Emily Pugh, Jonatan Bostock, Arul Gupta, Prithvi Abhishetty, Daniel Sharma, Jonas Ruegg and James Ocana) selected the department to work in depending on their expertise and skills.

After specialist departmental meeting, it was all hands on deck with operations designing food and oxygen resources, Automation designing the autonomous robots and internal networking backups, Human which main purpose was to create comfort and practicality alongside safety while in space and structure which headed the whole design of the building itself. All this alongside estimating costs, time structures and being able to actually explain it all in a 20-minute pitch to the judges.

We were repeatedly told the phrase ‘Is it on the RFP?’, the set of criteria set by the client which was a list of conditions that had to be met by each department in the final presentation. All departments pulled together incredibly well with only a couple of minor setbacks – something to be expected in such a complicated task with an extremely tight deadline.

Seven hours of preparation later, the final 20 minute presentation was delivered to a panel of prestigious judges who listened intently and posed a number of tough and probing questions which our team, of now experts, were able to answer with exceptional confidence and clarity. When summarising, our plans were praised for their creativity and innovative solutions, however, the judges decided on the day to award the contract to another team. Spurred on by the experience, the team are now going to take part in the video competition in order to try and secure a place in the National Final, with a chance to then participate in the International Final in the summer in Houston, Texas.

Written by: Sixth Form student, Alasdair Thomson