Want to Run Code on the ISS? There’s a Competition For That
Originally posted by Eric Larson on September 26, 2012 in Mashable.
Any high school-aged coders with a love for space and NASA out there? Read on.
Here’s how it works: Students can sign up in teams for free on the website. Over the course of the semester, they compete head-to-head with other teams in writing programs — sort of situational, scenario-based challenges. Gradually, the challenges get more difficult. Then, after several phases, finalists are selected to compete in running code for the International Space Station (ISS) — which is broadcast live by an astronaut on board the ISS.
Since 2009, the competition has allowed participants to compete in a series of coding challenges through an online platform.
“There’s a whole ranking system that tells them how well they’re doing as they’re going through it,” said Jake Katz, co-founder of the competition and research assistant in the Space Stations laboratory at MIT. “And throughout the course of the season, the game gets slightly more complex. They start out in two dimensions and then they will soon, around Oct. 5, be going into 3-D competition — then we add some additional challenges towards the end.”
The original kick off for this year’s competition was on Sept. 8. But, Katz said, there’s still a day left to register.
“There have been people participating so far, and are already off and running with it, but it’s still possible to join in and make a submission for the first phase,” he said. “We have 75 teams so far, and that’s just from the U.S.”
There are an additional 43 teams from 19 other countries, he said.
The competition is sponsored by NASA, DARPA, TopCoder, Aurora Flight Sciences, CASIS and MIT. TopCoder, a programming company, designed the platform the games are played on.
“In 2009, when we started, we had just two teams competing against each other,” Katz said. “Just two years later, we had about 100 teams from all over sign up.”