Land on Mars, Save the Egg, Beat the Budget
NASA’s Orion and Copernicus spacecrafts are ready for their mission to Mars. All that remains is for the next generation of engineers to design a vehicle that will deliver an astronaut safely to the red planet’s surface. Take up the challenge of building a lander out of everyday materials that will protect an egg from a two-story drop while also managing schedules, deadlines, budgets, team dynamics, unforeseen events, and more.
This program is a faithful simulation of what it is like to be on an engineering team in a fast-paced aerospace environment. Participants will not only have to carry out the obvious lander design, construction, and testing tasks, they must also manage budgets, reports, schedules, presentations, and documentation requirements as well as react to unexpected events.
This workshop is a 7.5 hour program that can be delivered as a single session or split across 5 consecutive sessions, each session meeting for 1.5 hours. A breakdown of the activities is below.
Download the Program Description/Common Core Map
Part/Day 01: engineering company formation, Project Briefing & Brainstorming
Participant groups will form aerospace engineering companies and attend a NASA briefing on the Mars lander design program. At the briefing companies will learn about the Mars lander's design requirements and parameters. Companies will then create a presentation summarizing their understanding of the challenges involved in a Mars landing and how they might address those challenges in a lander design.
View the Part/Day 01 Presentation
Part/Day 02: Debate Lander Design Options, Select Initial Design & Build Initial Prototype
Participants will bring their independently developed lander designs to company meetings where they will advocate and debate design options. Each company will decide on a design (or on an integration of multiple designs), sketch an initial design draft based on its decision(s), and begin building initial lander prototypes.
View the Part/Day 02 Presentation
Part/Day 03: Test initial Prototype, Evaluate Performance & Redesign
Participants' companies will complete their initial lander prototypes, check those initial prototypes for compliance with NASA requirements, and run pilot landing tests. Companies will evaluate the initial prototypes' performances, revise and refine their designs based on results, and prepare to build a final prototype.
View the Part/Day 03 Presentation
Part/Day 04: Build final prototype & submit for compliance verification
Participants' companies will build their final lander prototypes incorporating design revisions and refinements drawn from their test results. Companies will then submit their final lander prototypes for independent evaluation to verify that each lander meets all of NASA's design specifications and requirements. A review session will allow participants to learn from each other's designs and experiences.
View the Part/Day 04 Presentation
Part/Day 05: Final prototype Testing Followed By Results Assessment & Scoring
Participants' companies will test their final lander prototypes, record the results, and determine the winner of the NASA Mars lander contract. As a capstone, we will learn about the social and economic benefits produced by 50 years of NASA space programs.
View the Part/Day 05 Presentation
Please Note: Presentation and class materials are for showcase purposes only and not meant to be used without explicit permission.
Logistics, Fee & Delivery Requirements
Duration: 7.5 hours or 5 Days x 1.50 hours per day | Age Range: 8-10 for basic, 11-Adult for advanced | Participants: 10-30 | Cost: Starting at $659 for 7.5 hours | Requirements: Video Projector with HDMI port and speakers ; 3 large tables with chairs for assembly stations ; tables and chairs for groups of 3-4 ; 0.5 hour setup and breakdown times ; additional travel charges may apply. Contact for details.
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