22 NASA Challenges That Made 2015 an Epic Year for Freelancer Contests

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In July 2015, NASA Tournament Labs tapped the Freelancer community to build apps and tools that can be useful for their space exploration efforts. Here's a compilation of all 22 NASA Tournament Lab Challenges crowdsourced via Freelancer Contests last year.


Astronaut Smartwatch App Interface Design

NASA wanted to leverage the smartwatch technology and create an app for astronauts. The challenge was to design the general user interface for a smartwatch app to be used in the International Space Station.

Challenge winner: igcalvo

NASA astronaut smartwatch app.png

Software Applications Using NASA’s Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) Protocols

In the contest brief, DTN was described as “a protocol suite that extends the terrestrial Internet capabilities into highly stressed data communication environments where the conventional Internet does not work well”. The challenge was to conceptualize applications that can take advantage of the DTN protocol suite and provide benefit to space and/or terrestrial users.

Challenge winner: betafind

NASA DTN protocol challenge winner.jpg


The goal for these challenges was to develop 3D models for Robonaut simulations. In the contest brief, NASA wrote that these simulated objects will be used for various grasp and manipulator testing.

Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) Handrail challenge

There are handrails inside and outside of the space station that astronauts use to move around. What’s unique with this particular handrail is the “dog bone” cross section.

Winner: miguel3d


Manila Envelope challenge

The Robonaut team will use this manila envelope to develop vision and grasping controls to increase R2’s ability to interact with non-rigid, compliant objects in its workplace.

Winner: Zakken

NASA R2 manila envelope.jpg

Large Trigger Flashlight challenge

This tool will be used by R2 in low visibility environments and to assist humans in their tasks.

Winner: EduardoCordero

NASA R2 large trigger flashlight.jpg

Scopemeter challenge

The Scopemeter is a portable oscilloscope tool used by astronauts to perform regular maintenance and inspections of power systems on space station. This tool will be used to develop vision and grasping controls to improve R2’s ability to support astronaut tasks.

Winner: Origin3D

NASA R2 scopemeter.jpg

EVA Grapple Hook challenge

Astronauts use grapple hook to fasten themselves to a structure while performing extra-vehicular tasks. The design of the grapple hook prevents accidental release of grappled objects, which ensures the safety of astronauts.

Winner: rapthor

NASA R2 EVA grapple hook.jpg

RFID Scanner challenge

Astronauts use an RFID scanner to locate and keep an inventory of RFID-tagged items on space station. R2 can also use this scanner to perform the same tasks.

Winner: BlackRiddles

NASA R2 RFID scanner.jpg

Scopemeter Soft Goods Case challenge

Majority of items on space station are stored in soft containers so they can be put inside larger bags and be kept in place during tasks. This particular item is for the Scopemeter storage.

Winner: samar9

NASA R2 soft goods case.jpg

Small Soft Goods Box challenge

This item will be used for keeping small soft objects that may be a part of R2’s tasks on the ground or on space station.

Winner: samar9

NASA R2 small soft goods box.jpg

Sheathed Hose (One End) challenge

A sheathed hose is one of the many hoses and cables on the space station. The ortho-fabric in space suits is an example of a protective covering for this hose.

Winner: haryopriyonggo

NASA R2 sheathed hose.jpg

Soft Goods Task Panel challenge

The Robonaut developers will use this panel to improve vision and grasping controls of non-rigid, compliant objects in the robot workspace.

Winner: GR1D

NASA R2 soft goods task panel.jpg

Drill Battery and Charger challenge

The Robonaut team will use these items in the development of vision and grasping controls to identify and localize the Drill Battery and its charger (it charges and replaces battery on a cordless drill).

Winner: BrianStandridge

NASA R2 drill battery and charger.jpg

Blanket Stand challenge

The challenge here was to have an accurate location of the two quarter fasteners that hold the blanket in place.

Winner: tarun3693

NASA R2 blanket stand.jpg

Dumbbell Stand challenge

The Robonaut team will use this item in the development of vision and grasping controls to identify, localize, and grasp a 20 lb dumbbell. NASA specified that the design should be built without the dumbbell.

Winner: tarun3693

NASA R2 dumbbell stand.jpg

Cordless Drill challenge

The challenge here was to build a 3D model of a drill with and without a battery. This was in connection with the drill battery and charger challenge.

Winner: erpb12

NASA 3D cordless drill.jpg


Design a 3D Printable Award

NASA crowdsourced the 3D printable trophy design for NASA@work -- their internal crowdsourcing platform where employees can post challenges and have other employees solve those challenges.

Challenge winner: neworblivia

NASA 3D printable award challenge winner.jpg

Design a Logo for Logistics Reduction

The main goal of Logistics Reduction is “to decrease the dependence on earth resupply for space missions, done via direct mass reduction, re-purposing logistics, and conversion of waste into useful by-products (gases, water, solids)”. NASA crowdsourced the logo for this project and received 182 entries for the prize of $150 USD.

Challenge winner: Adrianm2d

NASA logistics reduction.jpg

Design a Banner for NASA Human Health and Performance Center

The challenge was to design a sophisticated banner to represent NASA Human Health and Performance Center (NHHPC). The design may be used in public communication efforts and promotion products. NHHPC is a virtual center where various organizations collaborate and share best practices to advance human health and performance innovations for life in space and on Earth.

Challenge winner: ducdungbui

NASA HHPC banner.jpg

Design a Logo for Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) Project

What they wanted here was to have a logo design that identifies with DTN technology. The participants were allowed to use maximum of four colors with all the elements designed by them.

Challenge winner: oldestsebi

NASA DTN logo.jpg

Design a Logo for NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thrust - Commercial (NEXT-C Project)

NEXT-C is the next generation of NASA ion thrusters. The goal of the challenge was to develop a logo which will be used in the project’s presentation materials, team items (shirts, mugs, etc.), materials for education and public outreach.

Challenge winner: oldestsebi

NASA NEXT-C logo.jpg

Design a Logo for NASA’s Gondola for High Altitude Planetary Service (GHAPS) Project

NASA needed a logo design for Gondola for High Altitude Planetary Service project. GHAPS is “an effort to design, build, and fly balloon-borne platform as a new alternative and complementary asset to ground and space-based observatories for planetary science missions”.

Challenge winner: Adrianm2d

NASA GHAPS logo.jpg

This year, the partnership continues as NASA will soon be posting bigger challenges on our platform. This collaboration is something that won’t be possible without the ingenuity and professionalism of the Freelancer community.

Just like NASA, if you’ve been wanting to crowdsource that brilliant idea of yours, now is the best time. Post your contest today!

Posted 12 January, 2016

flDyan Staff

Junior Product Marketing Manager at Freelancer. Outside of work, I'm into wedding coordination, entrepreneurship, beach trips, badminton, reading novels, and binge-watching TV series on Netflix.

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