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Design a spacecraft and mission challenge


This challenge is no longer active and has been completed. Submissions are no longer being accepted.

Be part of the NASA mission. Compete in a new series of challenges through our Innovation Gateway, a community science initiative. Everyday explorers – just like you – have the opportunity to provide useful solutions to further space exploration and our world.

Our first challenge is designing a spacecraft for a specific mission!

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We are entering an unprecedented era of space exploration.

NASA is setting its sights on getting back to the Moon in preparation for landing on Mars. Private companies are being contracted to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and will soon be delivering astronauts as well. The New Horizons spacecraft has escaped our inner Solar System and continues to travel into the unknown.

To adapt to this ever-growing field of potential missions, NASA requires many different vehicles that serve different functions.

The Apollo and Space Shuttle programs are among the most well-known and significant feats in history. The Apollo Program landed humans on the Moon, and the Space Shuttle Program developed the first reusable spacecraft paving the way for innovations like the International Space Station.

These spacecraft are perfect examples of designing with a purpose.


Your challenge is to design a spacecraft and mission that complement each other.

Your submission should include diagrams of your spacecraft and mission. Acceptable submissions include drawings, schematics, renderings, etc. Do NOT submit pre-existing space vehicles. The mission should chart the flight path and any potential landing sites.

Your submission should include written information that describes your mission and spacecraft as well as any research or calculations you may have done.

Science and space exploration are for everyone. Anyone can compete in this challenge.

Participants will be judged on the detail of the research, the plausibility of the mission, and the creativity of the spacecraft. The more detail you provide, the more likely you will be to win this challenge.

All participants will receive a digital certificate for competing in the challenge. Challenge winners will be featured on our challenge webpage and on Space Center Houston social media pages.


Submit a document with your design for a spacecraft and a mission. The file formats .doc, .docx, and .pdf will be accepted.

Submissions should include your name and age and as much detail about your spacecraft and mission as you would like to include.

Please name your submission file in the following format: “First name, last name – Challenge 1”

Send your submission to [email protected]. Please make the email subject line match the following format: “First name, last name – Challenge 1”

This challenge is no longer active and has been completed. Submissions are no longer being accepted.


NASA has an abundance of resources about their different spacecrafts. The links below are some good places to start:

Challenge Winners

Ages 3-5

Poom Paoinchantara

Ages 6-8

Rayce Ringnes

Ages 9-11

Logan Meyer

Ages 12-14

Zachary Bridenbaugh

Ages 15-18

Ben Puckett


Keith Hollister


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Know a talented student age 15-17?

Have them apply to Rise! Rise is a program that offers students access to scholarships, mentorship, networking and career development opportunities, fostering their ability to address pressing global challenges.

Rise Initiative is a partner of the Conrad Challenge at Space Center Houston.

Moon 2 Mars Festival is back!

Tickets on sale now | March 13 - 16

The All-American Rejects are throwing Space Center Houston’s Moon 2 Mars Festival into hyperdrive. Amp up your Space City Spring Break with us!

Access to this all-ages festival is included in general admission.