Remote data sensing and satellite access company SkyWatch Space Applications will be the organizing sponsor and host of the 2016 NASA International Space Apps Challenge for the Waterloo Region at Communitech, 151 Charles St W. in Kitchener, from April 22 6:00 p.m. to April 24 at 8:00 p.m.
With developers, makers, citizen scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs working in 170 cities, the global hackathon will challenge them all to work for 48 hours conceptualizing and building products and prototypes for logistical challenges designed by NASA, with a focus on aeronautics, space and earth science, and the journey to Mars.
At the beginning of the hackathon, discussion groups and then teams will be formed, who will then select from a range of categories: Aeronautics, Space Station, Solar System, Technology, Earth, and Journey to Mars.
SkyWatch was an international winner of the Space Apps Challenge in 2014, shortly after which the company was founded in April 2014, now employing eight in their Waterloo headquarters.
“NASA’s Space Apps Challenge is the most unique hackathon on Earth,” says Space Apps Organizer and SkyWatch CEO James Slifierz. “The event allows a range of skilled participants the opportunity to build something amazing that can be used in the real world, or space, using NASA tools and data. To add to the excitement, for the first time ever in Canada, participants could receive support for their ideas outside of the hackathon and possibly launch their own space startup.”
SkyWatch software provides astrophysicists subscriptions to real-time notifications from NASA spacecraft observatories.
SkyWatch began offering their marketplace for remote sensing data, called RemoteX, in March 2016.
SkyWatch is promising to open a “space startup-specific” accelerator sometime in 2016, providing a venue for open source, not-for-profit, and for-profit ventures, who will have access to technical resources, NASA’s open data and tools, community support and mentorship, and business resources to develop the next generation of space innovation solutions.
Winning out over 650 other projects in 2014, the SkyWatch team got the opportunity to meet NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and were guests of NASA at the Orion spacecraft’s first test launch, a vehicle which will be taking the first humans to Mars.
Last year’s NASA Space Apps Challenge saw 14,000 hackers participating in 138 cities, while this year’s event expects a turnout of 15,000 participants in 170 cities.
Two solutions from the Waterloo challenge will be selected to compete with other winners from competing cities, to be eventually judged by the NASA International Space Apps Challenge team.