In order to ensure the development of the space industry, it is already necessary to get children interested in space and technology. Future engineers, cosmonauts, and designers are growing up among us, and our task is to divert their attention from the horrors of war, to interest them in learning and engineering, and to foster an interest in creation as opposed to the destruction that surrounds them.
The best way to do this is to present scientific knowledge in a playful way.
In August 2022, the firts Noosphere Space Games virtual spacemodeling competition was held under the joint organization of the NGO “Association Noosphere”, co-founded by Max Polyakov, a Ukrainian businessman with experience in the field of space, IT technologies and engineering, and the Spacemodelling Sport Federation of Ukraine.
The winners were determined on August 20. The kids assembled virtual rockets in Kerbal Space Program, launched a satellite into orbit, and returned the pilot unharmed to Kerbin.
148 teams competed for a prize fund of 1,000 USD, and participation in the competition was free. More than 350 children from Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Poltava, Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, Sumy, Lviv, Cherkasy, Khmelnytskyi, Rivne, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Zakarpattia regions joined the Noosphere Space Games.
The Kerbal Space Program takes into account almost all factors affecting the launch of space rockets. Participants had to consider air resistance, spacecraft mass, fuel consumption, gravity, atmospheric drag, and many other technological variables. Competitors had access to a large catalog of parts to build a fully functional spacecraft that flies using realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics. The goal of the competition was not only to complete the mission but also to make the virtual rocket competitive. The teams that spent the least amount of virtual currency on building won.
“I am amazed that we succeeded! In a few hours, we built a space rocket that was able to go into orbit. Over the course of two weeks, we refined it and even ditched the heat shield to make the design cheaper. We used both solid fuel and liquid engines. The mission was successful!” – a member of the Ukrainian Aerospace team.
1st place – Ukrainian Aerospace team, Kyiv. Alexander Andersen-Shevchenko and Ilya Pentyuk. $500 prize.
2nd place – team “Yggdrasil”, Cherkasy. Max Kusiak and Daniil Ivanov. $300 prize.
3rd place – Spacekids team, Cherkasy. Artem Leshchenko, Anna Rudnytska, Kateryna Rudnytska. $200 prize
“It was very unexpected because before the competition we didn’t even know about Kerbal Space Program. Advice to the participants for the future – choose cheaper parts and calculate the amount of fuel,” says a member of the Yggdrasil team, which took second place
Most of the children had never assembled virtual rockets in Kerbal Space Program and had no knowledge and skills in rocket modeling. However, they really enjoyed discovering new things and gaining knowledge playfully.
“In Kerbal Space Program, participants were able to build a spaceship quite realistically. At the same time, it was necessary to take into account a number of factors such as the laws of physics and aerodynamics, as well as staying within the rules of the competition. It was very interesting to see the projects! The teams that completed the mission tasks with the minimum budget won, so the children had to look for creative ways to optimize costs,” says the General Secretary of the Spacemodelling Sport Federation of Ukraine, Denys Khmyl.
“Noosphere Space Games made a successful debut in Ukraine. We gathered a lot of participants and believe that we were able to interest them in space technologies. Perhaps participation in such competitions will inspire children to become engineers, scientists, and specialists in the aerospace industry. Competitions like Noosphere Space Games already exist in the USA, so we adopted their successful experience. Last year, The American Rocketry Challenge held its second Kerbal Space Program competition, the task was to build a Mun (Moon) base. We decided that our mission will be to launch a satellite,” says Olha Zyma, head of social projects of NGO “Association Noosphere”.
This is not the first initiative of Noosphere, aimed at the popularization of space, technology and STEM-education in Ukraine. Among the projects are various scientific, engineering and space events: the largest in Ukraine festival of robotics BestRoboFest, competition of engineering startups Vernadsky Challenge, local stage of space hackathon NASA Space Apps Challenge Dnipro, the first in Ukraine competition in robotics on the basis of the American constructor VEX IQ — Noosphere Engineering Race, “revival” the Planetarium in Dnipro and others.