Managing the Enterprise In Space Oribter Design Contest
By: Jim Plaxco, EIS Orbiter Design Contest Manager
Let me tell you about managing an art contest, particularly an art contest whose winning entry must be turned into a functional spacecraft. That is the challenge that confronted those of us judging the Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest. I have previously judged a number of space art contests wherein it was only the aesthetics of the art that mattered. I have also judged art contests where it was important that the scene depicted be technologically plausible and realistically portrayed. Managing and judging the Enterprise in Space contest was unique in that it wasn’t just a matter of aesthetics or realism but of design engineering practicality as well.
The design guidelines the artists were given for the Enterprise In Space Orbiter Design Contest were fairly broad. Artists were directed to design a ship that was beautiful; that was futuristic; that would inspire students experimenters participating in the project; that would be practical; that would have sufficient internal volume; that when built would be no larger than 8-feet long by 8-feet wide by 6-feet tall; that was not too thin or narrow in any location; and would feature bilateral symmetry.
Ordinarily when designing a spacecraft there is a well defined hierarchy of requirements and the final design is driven by these functional requirements which are identified in an iterative manner with some parameters being relatively firmly fixed and other parameters being more malleable. This was not the case with the EIS Orbiter Design Contest. The nature of this project is one driven by the desire to build and fly a non-traditional spacecraft that will serve as an inspirational science tool for children and students. It is worth pointing out that education is a central tenant of the Enterprise In Space project.
Joining me in judging this contest were Fred Becker (EIS Chief Engineer); Dominic DePasquale (CEO of Terminal Velocity Aerospace); Steve Neill (owner of SNG Studio); Andrew Probert (Consulting Senior Illustrator); Jon Ramer (President of the International Association of Astronomical Artists); and Tobias Richter (CEO of Light Works).
It fell to me to create a set of judging guidelines and a system of voting. Our judging guidelines had to satisfy both the project’s design requirements as well as our aesthetic objectives. Voting was structured to insure that there was a general consensus of support for each of the winning entries. These requirements served to generate discussion between the judges about the relative merits of the competing entries, particularly with respect to the practicality of the artist’s design.
It took two rounds of formal voting in order for we judges to select the Grand Prize, First Prize, and Second Prize winners. Clearly choosing the Grand Prize entry was the most critical as that is the design from which the engineers will have to craft the NSS Enterprise Orbiter.
The judges role in selecting a winning design is complete. The design we selected now moves on to the next stage of the process which involves the creation of the necessary engineering drawings that will be used to structurally define the NSS Enterprise Orbiter – using as a template the winning design. Personally I am quite anxious to see how closely the spacecraft that is ultimately built and flown adheres to the original design concept submitted by our Grand Prize winner Stanley Von Medvey.
To view the Grand Prize, First Prize, and Second Prize winning entries, visit the <a href=”www.enterpriseinspace.org/winners/”> winners page </a>
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