Status Report

Zero Robotics SPHERES ISS Challenge: High School Tournament 2012

By SpaceRef Editor
April 23, 2012
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NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s, or MIT’s, Space Systems Laboratory are proud to announce that the next Zero Robotics High School Tournament will take place this fall, offering high school students the opportunity to design experiments that will be tested in space.

Zero Robotics challenges high school student teams to write their own algorithms to fly the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES. The competition starts online where teams compete to solve an annual challenge guided by mentors. Students can create, edit, share, save, simulate and submit code, all from a web browser. After several phases of virtual competition, finalists are selected to compete in a live championship aboard the International Space Station!

Teams may register now:

1) Go to
2) Log In or Create an Account.
3) Click “Tournaments” and register for the High School Tournament.
4) Create a team and invite other users.
5) Visit Resources to get started.

The registration deadline for this competition is Sept. 21, 2012.

NASA and MIT will hold a webinar on Monday April 23, 2012, at 1 p.m. EDT / 10 a.m. PDT for all interested participants. Please check for the latest information and to access the webinar.

By making the benefits and resources of the space program tangible to high school students, Zero Robotics is designed to inspire future scientists and engineers. Students will have the opportunity to push their limits and develop skills in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, or STEM. This program helps students build critical engineering skills, such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, team work and presentation skills.

The SPHERES are used inside the station to test maneuvers for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking. The three satellites that make up SPHERES fly in formation inside the station’s cabin. Each is self-contained with power, propulsion, computing and navigation equipment. MIT’s Space Systems Laboratory developed SPHERES in 2006 to provide DARPA, NASA and other researchers with a long-term test bed for validating technologies critical to the operation of future satellites, docking missions and satellite autonomous maneuvers.

The Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2012 is brought to you by NASA, DARPA, the MIT Space Systems Laboratory, TopCoder and Aurora Flight Sciences.

Please email any questions about this opportunity to

SpaceRef staff editor.