Launch me into space…

This weekend, I’ll be taking part in NASA’s 2013 Space Apps Challenge at the Met Office site in the UK. It’s a global hack event designed to make the world a better place. Which makes it A Very Good Thing.

I took part last year with a mission to “hack my way into space” which went pretty well, even if everyone did start the weekend thinking I was a total nut.

For 2013, I’m leading two missions (challenges) that I hope you’ll be able to help me with.
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To design a “data-inspired space adventure to inspire the next generation of scientists and space explorers”. I’ll be using the ethos of co-design and hack events to co-create, with whoever wants to participate, a story/adventure that will ultimately lead to me (actually) going to space.

The broad ambition for #spacegame is to create an episodic adventure that an astronaut will play over the duration of their mission to the ISS that will include:

• science and engineering based puzzles that need solving with participation from co-players on Earth
• objects that need designing on Earth and then 3D printed in space to (literally) unlock next levels
• a prize for successful completion that includes unlocking a new musical composition by David Bowie, performed in space.

To help us complete this challenge we will need:

• people to drop in to our hack space at the Met Office and contribute to the creation of the story (we’ll also be inviting contributions virtually – follow us on twitter @unspaceagency over the weekend for live info on how to take part)
• graphic designers, illustrators, animators to create prototype visuals for the story
• technologists specialising in 3D printing to advise on technical possibilities and limitations
• to persuade an astronaut flying to the ISS and their space agency to take part
• an introduction to David Bowie


Last year the We Love Data team 3D printed Mini Jon with the intention of then launching me on a high altitude weather balloon. Unfortunately time (and red tape) meant that we were unable to get Mini Jon on a launch. However!

Never one to give up, Mini Jon is back for Space Apps 2013 fully intending to take his mission to get to space to the next level as training for his eventual launch beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

To help us complete this challenge we will need:

• technologists specialising in 3D printing or space hardware to design and print/build a capsule for Mini Jon that can be carried by a high altitude
• technologists specialising in video, GPS, 3G broadcast and tracking systems so we can record Mini Jon’s journey (ideally streaming live footage) and retrieve him after his flight
• a high altitude weather balloon and permission to get Mini Jon on it.

If you have the skills, desire and ambition to help us successfully complete these challenges then we’d love for you to join us. While the approach will be very playful, we’re taking the missions very seriously and fully intend to get me to space.

I’ll be speaking by video with various experts (including ESA astronaut Tim Peake who is a patron of the Unlimited Space Agency) over the weekend and uploading our conversations to UNSA’s Youtube channel.

Welcome to the missions. I hope you can join us.