Apeejay School Students win NASA Space Settlement Design Contest 2014

New Delhi, 27 May 2014: Six Class X students from Apeejay School, Jalandhar created history by winning the Grand Prize at the prestigious NASA Space Settlement Design Contest 2014. The students won the prize for their project VONA, overcoming competition from 562 entries submitted by 1,567 students from 19 countries across the world.

VONA (Icelandic word denoting ‘hope' and ‘faith') comprised the blueprint of the Space Settlement on the aero-synchronous orbit of Mars transferred from the geosynchronous orbit of Earth after its successful construction. It took the students eight months to complete the 113-page project. The winning team comprised six students: Prajjwal Mahajan, Aditya Pratap Singh, Amareen Sandhu, Hatinderpal Singh Ghotra, Hetarth Chopra and Karan Chouhan.

The actualization of project VONA is timed to capture the Asteroid AMUN 3554 in 2061 and to earn a huge profit of $22 trillion (estimated) in order to keep the settlement running. After its completion in 2071, VONA will successfully house more than 16,000 people.

NASA Space Settlement Design Contest 2014

The contest winners were invited by the National Space Society (NSS) for the award ceremony and also to present their work at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2014) at Los Angeles, California, USA from 14-18 May 2014. At ISDC on 15 May, the students presented their winning poster design to the NASA scientist and astronauts. The students also received the ‘Bruce M. Clark Jr. Memorial Award' of $2,500 and Apeejay School was awarded ‘Star Map Crystal Award' for their outstanding performance.

NASA Space Settlement Design Contest 2014

The VONA team also had the privilege of making a 12-minute presentation at ISDC, which was greeted with a standing ovation by the august gathering of NASA engineers, scientists and astronauts. Impressed by the students' curiosity for space exploration, Richard Garriout (private astronaut and entrepreneur), Dr Buzz Aldrin (second man to walk on the moon) and Mr Chris Ferguson (director of crew and mission operations at Boeing, and ex-NASA astronaut) congratulated these students' personally. Mr Ameet Verma from Indian Space Agency will also be gifting an astronomical telescope for the students of the school.

NASA Space Settlement Design Contest 2014

After the presentation, the VONA team members were interviewed by international production house Warner Brothers Company, which will be showcased in their upcoming movie ‘Interstella' directed by Mr Christopher Nolan. The team was also interviewed by 20th Century Fox and Science Museum of Minnesota for their programme on ‘Space Colonization', with the students being hired as orators in upcoming events. The students have also been invited to the 1st Caribbean Space Summit in October 2014 to be held at Puerto Rico.

NASA Space Settlement Design Contest 2014

In collaboration with NSS, every year NASA organises a space settlement design contest, wherein students between 12 and 18 years (Class VII-XII) make innovative space settlement projects. Apeejay students, motivated by the principal Ms. Meera Javed, have been winning prizes at NASA for the past eight years, but this year was exceptional as the students won the highest award in this prestigious competition.

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