About NASA Space Apps Challenge

The interest in new, so-called democratized, space technologies is heating up. As the founder and manager of EOS, FireFly and Space Systems Engineering, Max Polyakov (Maxym Polyakov) suggests that plenty of opportunities in the space industry remain unrealized. That is why, he is eager to nurture and strengthen the ecosystem for space startups and let Ukrainians put their ideas into action.

Max Polyakov: Supporter of Space Apps Challenge by NASA

It is with great excitement that Max Polyakov, founder of Association Noosphere, hosts NASA Space Apps Challenge in Dnipro, Ukraine. It is an international hackathon, a 48-hour sprint, held annually to bring thousands of amateurs, space enthusiasts and designers together to take on real-life problems to do with space, the environment, technology and exploration. Organizations and philanthropists, such as Maxym Polyakov from Association Noosphere, support the teams, so they can become part of this global community. Max Polyakov is convinced that the event will encourage collaboration and unity in solving humanity's greatest problems. Global organizers reported on a striking development of the Space Apps community in 2017, welcoming 25 000 participants from 69 countries in 187 locations across the world.

NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017 was:
host locations

Ukraine joined the Space Apps location in 2016 for the first time. It was not for nothing, as our country's participation resulted in a spectacular success. The victory of the Mars Hopper project in the People’s Choice category grabbed the headlines. The team of engineers, designers and coders developed a plane to investigate the poles of Mars and their surroundings. They made a real life prototype of a plane launched using CO2. The Mars Hopper won the local competition in Kyiv, and eventually, competed against 128 other projects at the Space Apps international stage. Thousands of Ukrainians kept their fingers crossed and voted for the Mars Hooper. The project was highly welcomed by the public worldwide, which allowed the team to make it to the Top-25 in international online voting, making it one of the global award winners. Max Polyakov admitted that such a remarkable example inspired Ukrainian youth who are passionate about space technologies and pushed them to take part in future hackathons.

In 2017, the company EOS, founded by Maxym Polyakov, became a general partner and supported hackathons held in Kiev, Dnipro, Kropyvnytskiy. EOS core activities correlated with the general themes of Space Apps Challenge 2017 that were relevant to Earth. Max Polyakov’s EOS created a cloud-based platform and analytics tool that helps transform big GIS‑data into smart data for businesses, scientific research and public use. As hackathon mentors, EOS specialists helped teams improve their projects focused on monitoring natural disasters and phenomena, hydrosphere and cryosphere, ecological systems, etc. In addition to useful advice and knowledge sharing, EOS by Max Polyakov presented special motivational prizes to teams that had addressed challenges in the “NASA Earth Science” category.

This was the first time Dnipro hosted the NASA Space Apps Challenge, which was only made possible through support from Maxym Polyakov, Founder of Association Noosphere. As a part of the NASA Space Apps Challenge, the team of organizers held an informal gathering, a Data Bootcamp, to let newcomers from diverse backgrounds get familiar with the hackathon format, schedule and rules. Moreover, invited speakers and mentors gave introductory talks and workshops on getting started with microcontrollers, interesting uses of data and technologies, and project selection. Boot Camp attendees learnt about the essential skills necessary to take part in hackathons. This day-long event organized by a team from Max Polyakov’s Noosphere offered a great balance between learning, sharing and enjoying, with the added advantage that attendees could find team members before the hackathon.

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How it was?

On April 28-29, 2017 students, young engineers, coders, and designers formed 12 teams and started hacking. Along with suitable workplace/working facilities, they were served up with space-snacks - such as Mars bars and Milky Way bars. The organizing team from Max Polyakov’s Noosphere invited eight experts in various fields who volunteered their time to mentor the participants and share their expertise. Among them were Oleksandr Butkaliuk, Mars Hopper enginneer, Vitaliy Khit, Cofounder of the company Absolutist, Vitaliy Galkin, IT Director at Promodo, Anton Krasniy, cofounder of Murka, Illya Zobnov, Product Manager at Together Networks and representatives from EOS. Specifically, contestants works at solving specific challenges, which were carefully crafted by NASA experts. They were encouraged to make use of publicly available NASA data to work out open-source solutions applicable to both life in space and on Earth. Max Polyakov in his parting words noticed that beginners and young researchers make good use of the opportunity to gain practical knowledge and improve their skills.

endless opportunities for networking

In the long run, three winning teams at Space Apps in Dnipro got their chance to compete internationally. The local judges, led by Michael Ryabokon, cofounder of Association Noosphere and Noosphere Engineering School, appraised projects according to criteria such as:

  • impact
  • creativity
  • product
  • sustainability
  • presentation

In keeping with hackathon rules, they nominated two solutions:

  • Fire Prob
  • Flight Sight

for consideration in the global judging process. The first one uses NASA's data to make predictions where and when the fire will happen. The latter provides passengers with an opportunity to discover the places they fly over, merging entertainment and learning into one.

The Diversity Project, built by 6 young engineers, emerged as the winners according to public voting. Their team came up with the concept of a terrestrial hub that looks like a sub-orbital station. Such a hub replicates real space conditions and serves as not only an entertaining, but also an educational platform for kids and young space geeks. Although the team took 8th place worldwide in the People’s Choice nomination just 3 away from the TOP-5, the organizing team appreciated that the Diversity Project could capture public’s imagination.

As mentioned before, a special prize has been set up by EOS, founded by Max Polyakov. In Dnipro it went to the Solar Meerkat Project, a set of tools and applications, which allow them to plan power supply and consumption rationally. In fact, all participants were awarded NASA Space Apps Challenge diplomas and gifts. They gave positive feedbacks and appreciated the friendly atmosphere, opportunities for networking and a truly unforgettable experience. Given that the hackathon format requires completing projects in just 48 hours, the night work was exhausting. However, the local hackathon lead from Max Polyakov’s Noosphere offered hot food, soft drinks and sleeping bags to make the participant’s stay more pleasant.

According to Maxym Polyakov, this event is open to all. Without age limits or skill requirements. The hackathon offers a broad spectrum of challenges: from framing new concepts to putting forward advanced, ready-to-use applications. The participation in the hackathon is free everywhere across the globe. Future hackathon participants need to select a suitable location and register on the global website spaceappschallenge.org. Then, contestants form teams, pick up challenges proposed by NASA and submit projects online. Three winning teams from each location proceed to the international selection stage of the hackathon. Finally, NASA judges review all the nominated projects and select 6 global award winners in different categories:

  • Best Use of Data
  • Best Use of Hardware
  • Best Mission Concept
  • Galactic Impact
  • Most Inspirational
  • People’s Choice

Global winners receive an invitation to attend a NASA launch. Such an opportunity was a powerful extra incentive for participants to apply their best efforts at the hackathon.

The organizing team from Max Polyakov’s Noosphere is always ready to provide participants with information about Space Apps in Dnipro, help with registration and project submission process, etc. Keep an eye out for event dates on our social media and make sure you don’t miss an incredible space-weekend out!

MAX POLYAKOV: Supporter of Space Apps Challenge by NASA
  • When is the next Space Apps Challenge?
    The date hasn’t been announced yet. Be sure to follow news about Space Apps Dnipro by Max Polyakov’s Noosphere on social media.
  • What is a Data Bootcamp?
    Organizers from Max Polyakov’s Noosphere bring together all the participants some weeks before the event to get familiar with the hackathon format/challenges and let them find team members. The Data Bootcamp includes a mix of talks and hands-on workshops.
  • Where can I see the 2017 Award winners?
    Visit the Awards & Recognitions page. To see the winners from Space Apps Dnipro 2017, powered by Maxym Polyakov and Noosphere, visit our Location page.
  • What do hackathon winners get when they win?
    Thanks to the support of Noosphere by Max Polyakov, 3 winning teams in Dnipro are awarded with gifts. 6 teams, selected by a global panel of judges, will be invited to a rocket launch at a NASA spaceport in the USA.
  • I have a question that was not answered in the FAQ. Who can I contact?
    Reach out with any questions to the organizing team from Max Polyakov’s Noosphere - [email protected]

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