Dear colleagues, partners and friends
Let me tell you about this incredible weekend. Because this weekend was SpaceCon’23.
The story begins in a unique place, a timeless witness to the waves of elites who pass through its corridors: the École Polytechnique. Our heartfelt thanks go to the school, AstronautiX and its president, Aurélien Genin. We were able to use the Poincaré amphitheater for 3 days.
But what did we do in this amphitheater?
We prepared an incredible challenge in partnership with EURO2MOON. Many thanks to Bertrand Baratte, the event’s sponsor, and his incredibly versatile team, who touched on all areas with the aim of getting Europe back into the space race, and if possible to the moon. I’m sure that the themes addressed have raised a few consciousnesses.
We asked 18 talented teams to use their favorite tool, the Kerbal Space Program, to model the issues and challenges facing our space agencies today and in the near future.
Kerbal Space Program (KSP)… What is this thing?
It’s a space programme simulator which, although it looks like a fun game, embeds the whole corpus of the laws of gravity that govern our solar system. The funny rocket you have to launch will therefore be subject to the very real 3 laws of Newton, and all of a sudden. To get it into orbit, your rocket is going to start looking pretty realistic.
So realistic, in fact, that the Kerbal Space Challenge association runs courses in space mechanics using KSP as a teaching aid in top schools.
So what were these prodigies asked to do?
“You have to demonstrate the usefulness of setting up a lunar base and/or a relay station as part of a “deep space” mission.”
And it doesn’t stop there: to change perspectives and raise awareness of environmental considerations, we’ve turned the tables. Did you know that for a Falcon Nine, refuelling represents only 0.3 to 0.5% of the cost of the flight, whereas refuelling represents 70% of the flight’s carbon footprint?
They had 24 non-stop hours to model their solution and just 7 minutes to present it. The subject was revealed at the start of the test.
So we modified a version of KSP (thanks to Oscar [Harpercix] Chevalier and Yann [Only Light Matters] Mornet for your amazing work!!) to convert all the costs of the game into carbon footprints, based on what the literature in the field was saying from time to time. This modification to the game meant that it could be played on an equal footing.
The candidates were given the opportunity to present their projects, and several strategies were put forward. The aim was to be economical. But we expected realism. So, while we favour the reuse of systems, redundancy was expected when the system was unmanned. We had intelligent gateways that would refuel around the moon and bring the ergols close to Earth. Small, highly mobile automated ressources extraction systems to cover as large an area of the Moon as possible.
@Matt Lowne and @The Beardy Pinguin did us the great honour of taking part. In fact, they didn’t just take part, they won. They were followed by our talented space mechanics teachers Guillaume [Dakitess] Duchesne and Romain [RPfive05] POIRIER , who were hard to beat when it came to optimising interplanetary trajectories. Special mention must go to Stanislas Maximin and Whitney Jerosme, who didn’t quite follow the specifications but gave us fantastic drifts on Mars competition.
Beyond the good-natured atmosphere, this hackathon is above all an opportunity to bring together enthusiasts and professionals in the same field.
All of this was made possible thanks to the support of HP Omen, who provided us with machines of extraordinary capacity. Faultless organisation by Ruben Di Battista, Pierre Cordesse, Alexandre Poirier, Leo, Alberto Remigi and Ekaterina Seltikova.
We can’t forget to mention Private Division, publisher of KSP, which always supports our side!
Thank you all, you’ve set the bar so high! It will be difficult to find a new challenge as rich as this one.
I would like to express our deep gratitude to all members of our association Kerbal Space Challenge. We have a wide range of missions in the fields of animation, teaching and event management, and every call is answered. Your dedication is a source of inspiration for all of us.
Together, we form a supportive community and we look forward to continuing to create memorable moments and reach new heights. Thank you for being valuable members of our association!
See you for the next Challenge!!