From the Space Settlement Contest Chief Judge

I have been running, and judging, the annual NASA Ames Student Space Settlement Contest since 1994. In this time I've learned a great deal about student submissions and I'd like to give you some advice. Warning: each judge makes their own decisions for their own reasons.

General Advice

Spend some time reading the literature. Follow the links on the contest web page, Google "space settlement" and "space colony" and read what you find. Note that the NSS Space Settlement Library is the largest source of space settlement materials; use it. Most of these papers were not written for young students, but with enough time and determination you can understand them. First, if you don't understand a word, google it. If you are reading a paper and you are interested but are increasingly lost, start over from the beginning. You'll usually get further the second time or, if necessary, the third or fourth ...

Spend a lot of time discussing your entry. If you are in a team, talk to your team members. If you are doing an individual entry, talk to your parents, a teacher, your siblings, your friends, or anyone who is interested. In the course of these discussions you have a good chance of finding what interests you and what you have to contribute.

When you use someone else's idea, image or data, which will be most of what you do, be sure to reference the paper, book or web site you got the item from or, better, where it came from in the first place. For ideas and data, the reference should be right in the text and point to a list of references at the end. For images it should read "Image credit where-it-came-from." Note: references are not necessary for very well known ideas, for example, Newton's Laws.

As much as possible, create your own images and graphics.

When choosing a location for your settlement(s), think about where the materials will come from, where the energy will come from, and where the people you want to trade with will be.

Issues Often Ignored

If you, like most, are doing a space settlement engineering design, here are a few issues that are often ignored or overlooked. Consider adding a section on them, or perhaps building an entire entry around a thorough investigation of one.

Alternative Types of Entries

Most of the entries we get are engineering designs, torus-shaped, and placed at L4 or L5; inspired by the NASA Ames/Stanford studies of the 1970s. Consider something different. Remember that your entry can be anything that has to do with free space settlement, not necessarily a design. Here are some ideas: Note: if the topic you pick is not obviously part of space settlement, for example, a cubesat experiment, be sure to explain why your entry is relevant to free space settlements. Not all judges will have read this page!

Author: Al Globus