Q&A: What is the NASA Space Apps Challenge?


RAPID CITY, S.D. – For the first time ever, Rapid City hosted the NASA Space Apps Challenge on Saturday.

What is the NASA Space Apps Challenge?

It is an event that has been put on by NASA since 2012 where people from all over the world form teams to come up with unique solutions to a variety of different challenges that NASA has come up with. This year, there were over 150,000 participants across 323 different counties that get to choose between 22 different challenges. The challenges are different every year and focus on putting to use data that NASA has collected.

What is the purpose of the challenge?

One of the main goals of the challenge is to showcase all of the free-to-use data that NASA collects and how it can be used in many different ways.

Who can participate?

Anyone can participate and you do not need to be a rocket scientist. NASA recommends teams of four or five people with different backgrounds. Their suggestion is that part of the team consists of people with an engineering or programming background, and the remaining members have a background in business, art or some other non-STEM background. Having a team that consists of people with a variety of backgrounds is often the best way to come up with the most creative solutions. There are challenges that have varying levels of difficulty, so you don’t have to be an expert in something to participate.

Can the participants win anything?

Yes! There are many different prizes at the local level including hats, t-shirts and special edition medallions. The local grand prize is $1,000 and a 1-hour meeting with The Additive Space to discuss business ideas. What most people are interested in is the global grand prize: a visit to a NASA center and the potential to watch a rocket launch in-person.

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