ISSDC 2019: Princess Margaret NASA team creates history in Florida
Imagine designing a fully functional settlement in space. A group of nine students (Aden Jabbar, Raifah Rahman, Arwaa Khan, Ritika Bhardwaj, Mehtab Brar, Saurav Kahlon, Atta Faiz, Jayden Ramlu, and Jashan Gill) from Princess Margaret Secondary School, Surrey, who are passionate about science, won the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC). This competition was held in NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.
Working with 2 advisors, they spent 10-15 hours outside the school time to put together the proposal for space settlement. They submitted a proposal to NASA in April and found that they were accepted to the competition. “We did not expect that we will be selected,” one of the students said. They wanted to get in, but they did not expect it. It was in June when their teacher received an email that the students were selected.
Enrolling for the first time in the competition and being new to it turned out to be a challenge for the students. After returning home, they share their inspiring story of what they learned from their recent trip to Florida.
How did you motivate yourself because you only had 48 hours to create this?
As we only had 48 hours, we worked the afternoon of the first day and got a sleep for five hours in between the first and second day. Second day, we worked throughout the day. Having a timeline there and doing something that you do not normally do, motivated us. It was a fun experience.
What motivated you to come up with these ideas?
The fact that we even got accepted to go to Florida was such a big thing for us and we really wanted to make use of that opportunity. We were given this great opportunity to compete for Canada. So, that was one of the things that motivated us. You do not know how many times you will go to Florida for the actual competition. We really wanted to make the most of this trip. So, we put as much effort as we could and we thought of the most creative things we could and enjoyed as we could. Moreover, it was such a surreal experience because we got to create a bond with students all around the world.
How did you balance the NASA project and the school exams?
It was hard to balance both things but in the end, it was worth it. We had to set our priority. When we were at home, we were studying the entire night and the next day, we just took the exam. It is hard when you have a big project and that too with school. However, pre-planning your time helps. If you are really passionate about something, you can always take out time.
What was the criteria of the submission?
First submission was our original submission that was made to qualify to go to Florida. So, to get to that phase, we had to do an introductory proposal and that proposal was kind of what we did in Florida, but we had a lot more time to do it. Hence, we made a PDF document, which was around 40-42 pages and then we set that in and after that it took from November until April-May and then we submitted and got selected.
What did you have to design in 48 hours?
We were given a document on how the design was supposed to be. It was like putting a city in space. If you get Las Vegas, you have to put that in space. One of the things that we learned from this episode was communications because even though we were all in different departments, we had to work together. For example- Operations. They were responsible for agriculture, food production. So, if they needed a certain amount of area for production, the structure person had to create a structure, so that it fits that. We all had to work together. All the departments get affected by one thing. If one team needs an area for farm, then automation will have to design a robot to do the farming itself because the aim is to make the whole process as automatic as possible to use the least amount of humans in the building process and the maintenance of the settlement.