ActInSpace 2022: how Ukrainians and Slovaks hackathoned 

30 Nov 2022
ActInSpace 2022

The space hackathon ActInSpace was held in 34 countries of the world on November 18-19. The hackathon takes place every year under the auspices of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French National Center for Space Research (CNES). NGO “Association Noosphere” recently signed a memorandum of partnership with the Slovak Space Office, so this year Ukraine joined ActInSpace in Slovakia.

More than 70 space enthusiasts took part in the joint Slovak-Ukrainian hackathon. Together they formed 12 teams and worked on tasks from the European Space Agency for 24 hours. The tasks were related to the problems of space debris, optimization of maritime logistics, protection and tracking of animals, and forecasting the movement of allergens. However, the most popular topic of the hackathon was the problem of space debris, as most teams chose for their project development. The ActInSpace 2022 victory in Slovakia was won by the SpaceWardens team, which developed a platform for visualizing and forecasting the trajectory of space debris in Earth’s orbit. They will compete against winners from other locations in the international final in France for the chance to win a Zero-G flight on an Airbus A310. The special design of the plane makes it possible to feel the absence of gravity as experienced by astronauts.

The participants were assisted by Slovak expert mentors including analysts of venture markets, business strategists, and specialists in the fields of law, marketing, machine learning, cyber security, the Internet of Things, and more.

Ukraine was represented on the jury by the head of the Noosphere Engineering School, Serhiy Veretiuk. According to Serhiy, the Ukrainian and Slovak space clusters have a lot in common: “We, Ukrainian space enthusiasts, are interested in the experience of our colleagues, and this applies not only to work on integration into ESA, but also to practical research. For example, the Slovaks have a successful experience in developing and launching the skCube satellite. It is a CubeSat-type satellite launched in 2017 to test new technologies and study the Earth’s ionosphere. The Slovak suborbital launch vehicle project is also promising. Both CubeSat and suborbital launch vehicles are precisely the areas where Noosphere initiatives have been working for a long time (and fruitfully), in particular, the “Student Rocket”, which is implemented on the basis of our Engineering School. With the financing and comprehensive support of Max Polyakov, we have already carried out several launches of ultralight launch vehicles, and now we are working on a suborbital one.”

The memorandum of cooperation regarding the hackathon is an important step in the integration of Ukraine into the European space community. Slovakia became an associate member of the European Space Agency (ESA) very recently, in October 2022. Ukraine is still on the way to becoming a member, although project cooperation with ESA was established back in 1999. The space industry of Ukraine must “hold the bar” of European integration, establishing partnership ties with the European space community. For the past several years, Noosphere has been developing a powerful space cluster in Ukraine with the support of its co-founder, philanthropist and businessman Max Polyakov, and hackathons and space tournaments for young people are part of that ecosystem of engineering creativity.