International Space Settlement
Design Competition

This year we are introducing two new semifinals in the United States of America.

This contest puts high school students in the shoes of aerospace industry professionals. The students are organized into four competing teams, or “companies”, to design a facility in space that will accommodate several thousand people in a realistic scenario set in the later years of this century.

Each year the Competition organizers develop a new design challenge and scenario with its own unique requirements. The four participating student “companies” work to create a design and operating plan for the facility which meets the project requirements. Each team prepares a written summary of 50 pages or less of their proposal, and provides a 35 minute oral briefing to the competition judges that fully addresses the project requirements and communicates their ideas, designs, budgets and schedules.

As students conquer the problems inherent in designing a Space Settlement, the student participants learn and demonstrate:
  • Creativity
  • Technical competence
  • Management skills
  • Space environment knowledge
  • Teamwork and presentation techniques

Competition History

Your attendance at a Space Settlement Design Competition is part of a long history of Competitions involving thousands of students and teachers from across the globe.

Space Settlement Design Competitions are industry simulation games for high school students, set in the future.

The Competitions emulate, as closely as possible, the experience of working as a member of an aerospace industry proposal team. To help accomplish the challenging task of task of designing a space settlement, each team is provided with managers from industry in the United States, Australia, and India to serve as Company co-CEOs, then participants receive technical and management training to prepare them for the Competition. They must design an overall structure, define sources of construction materials, specify vehicles used for transportation, determine sources of electrical power and water, design computer and robotics systems, specify allocation of interior space, show examples of pleasant community design, and provide estimated costs and schedules for completion of the project.

The Competition concludes with the teams’ presentations of briefings describing their designs to a panel of judges. The experience of participating in a Space Settlement Design Competition teaches young people optimism for the future, technical competence, management skills, knowledge of space environments and resources, appreciation for relationships between technical products and human use, teamwork, and techniques for preparing effective documentation. It requires that students integrate their knowledge of and utilize skills in space science, physics, math, chemistry, environmental science, biology, computer science, writing, speaking, art, and common sense.

The Space Settlement Design Competition concept is sponsored by Aerospace Education Competitions, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Houston (Texas) Section, with support from the National Space Society (NSS) in the United States. The winning Semi-Finalist team will select members to proceed to the Finalist Competition at NASA Kennedy Space Center in the USA in July.

The first Competition was held in Columbus, Ohio in 1984 as part of the Boy Scouts’ National Exploring Conference.  Anita Gale, her husband, Dick Edwards, and their friend Rob Kolstad developed the concept and the intellectual materials and content for the initial competition.

Subsequently the Boy Scouts’ Space Exploration Post at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA decided to sponsor a local competition.  It was called SpaceSet, and the first Competition at JPL occurred in 1986, and continued for 18 years.

A National Competition was founded in July, 1994, as part of Space Week International, and was held in Washington, DC, to great success.  The National Competition moved to Epcot Center in 1995, and then to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 1996. It continued at KSC through 2005 and then moved to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) where it occurred each July from 2006 to 2013. In 2014 the National Competition was relocated to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the 2017 National Competition will be held there in late July, 2017. The National Competition is now called the International Space Settlement Design Competition and is attended by student groups from around the world, including the United States.

The first JSC Competition was organized in the spring of 1999 at the request of the JSC Center Director, and has continued at JSC since that time.  There has been a JSC SSDC in the March time frame each year, and for some years there were two sessions in the spring to accommodate additional students.  In 2012 there were two Competitions – one in March, 2012, and a second in October, 2012.

The initial focus of the Competition was on Mars Exploration – a base in orbit about Mars, on the Martian surface, or a cycling resupply vehicle to travel repetitively between Earth and Mars to resupply existing assets at Mars.  The Competition has now expanded its focus to include designing large human facilities in the inner solar system, including Earth’s Moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and the Asteroid Belt.

There is now also an on-line Competition that any school in the world can enter and compete for an opportunity to attend the International Space Settlement Design Competition at Kennedy Space Center each July.  A subset of the members of the winning company from a JSC Competition is invited to travel to the NASA Kennedy Space Center in late July to participate in the International Competition.

Northwest Semi-Finals

Dates: Saturday and Sunday, April 28 – 29

Location: Museum of Flight, 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle, WA

Please plan to arrive by 8:30 a.m. on Saturday 28 April for check-in
Competition events will conclude by 5:00 p.m. Sunday April 29

Meals are provided during the Competition: Saturday and Sunday lunch, Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast

Bring your sleeping bag! Saturday night will be a sleepover in the Museum of Flight.

If you will need to stay in a hotel Friday night, contact Competition Co-Founder Anita Gale ( to see if we have arranged group rates at a local hotel.

Who Can Participate: The Northwest Semi-Final Competition is open to high school students, minimum age 15. Although the Northwest Region is loosely defined as Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory, students from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada are welcome to register for this event. Students who participated in the JSC Semi-Final are welcome to participate.

Scenario: Participants in the Northwest Semi-Final will receive “future history” of human activities in space to the year 2028, and will be asked to design a Lunar Resources Assessment Base on Earth’s Moon. This base will serve as a headquarters for lunar exploration, and research into lunar resources and products that can be made from those resources as the human economy expands into space.

Cost: $110 per student

Constraint: Available to high school students, age 15 and over

To Register:
– Fill out the Registration form, and submit as instructed
– Registration Deadline – Friday, April 27, 2018 (please contact us at for walk-in registration)
– Make check for $110 to “National Space Society – Seattle”, and send to

David Stuart
14618 – 21st Avenue SW
Burien, WA 98166

Southwest Semi-Final

Dates:  Friday – Sunday, May 18 – 20

Location:  Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

Please plan to arrive by 6:00 p.m. on Friday May 18 for check-in
Specific location for check-in will be provided to registered participants
Competition events will conclude by 5:00 p.m. Sunday May 20

Meals are provided during the Competition:  Saturday and Sunday breakfast and lunch, Saturday dinner

Bring your sleeping bag!  Friday and Saturday nights will be sleepovers in gyms at NAU

Who Can Participate: The Southwest Semi-Final Competition is open to high school students, minimum age 15.  Although the Southwest Region is loosely defined as California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, students from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada are welcome to register for this event.  We ask that students who participated in the JSC Semi-Final NOT participate in the Southwest Semi-Final.

Scenario: Participants in the Southwest Semi-Final will receive “future history” of human activities in space to the year 2038, and will be asked to design a large space settlement where lunar materials can be refined and manufacturing can happen in space.

Event: Northwest Semi-Final of the International Space Settlement Design Competition

Cost: $100 per student

Constraint: Available to high school students, age 15 and over

To Register:
– Fill out the Registration form, and submit as instructed
– Registration Deadline – May 13, 2018
– Pay Online after filling registration form or make check for $100 to “NAU”, and send to

Megan Proctor
NASA Space Set Design
PO Box 5670
Flagstaff, AZ 86011

ISSDC Global Finals

Dates: July 26-29

Location: Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, USA

The competition begins July 26 with chaperone orientation in the afternoon, and design process on July 27 and 28, presentations on July 29, departure on the morning of July 30.

Who Can Attend: champions of our global semi-final competitions, direct entrants, and invited finalists.

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