On Monday, Jan 28 of 2019, over 600 students, gathered at MIT, USA; University of Alicante, Spain; and University of Sydney, Australia to watch cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and astronaut Anne McClain referee the final competition of the Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2018 aboard the International Space Station. 

High Schools Teams from across the globe were tasked to program actual robotic satellites up on the International Space Station. Students watched via live downlink as competition judged by astronauts aboard the ISS.  NJ team,  Quark Charm team from Branchburg-based robotics and computer science learning center named Storming Robots, ranked admirable 4th Place.

The live broadcast featured presentations by former NASA Astronauts Cady Coleman, Jeffrey Hoffman and Vice President of Airbus DS Space Systems, Hans-Juergen Zachrau. The 2018 game, ECO-SPHERES, centers around the removal of space debris from Low Earth Orbit. Students were challenged with the unprecedented task of attempting to hook two satellites together in microgravity. 

Congratulations to all teams from the globe made to the ISS-Final.   ISS Champions of this year’s Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2018:  Naughty Dark Spaghetti (an alliance of three teams from Italy, NY, and WI)! “

This year’s game called ECO-SPHERES centers around the removal of space debris from Low Earth Orbit. Students have been challenged with the unprecedented task of successfully hooking two satellites together in microgravity.  Students must command their satellite to navigate to another disabled spacecraft (another satellite), hook onto it and tow it back safely.  The goal of the game is to complete these tasks in the shortest amount of time. In order to be victorious, however, students must be careful to avoid their own satellite from collisions with space debris which incur thruster damage. During the on-orbit competition,  the SPHERES will be configured with hooks that were 3D printed on the ISS. 

The NJ Storming Robots’ Quark Charm team formed an alliance team with two foreign teams from Poland and Russia. 

Members from the NJ group consists of:  Three from Warren H.S.: Jagdeep Bhatia /2nd-Captain (Gr. 11), Mayur Sharma /2nd-Captain (Gr. 11), and Prateek Humane /1st-Captain (Gr. 12). Two from Bridgewater Raritan H.S.: Jeffrey Cheng /2nd-Captain (Gr. 10) and Sunny Cheng /2nd-Captain (Gr. 12).  Two from Montgomery H.S.: Daniel Xue (Gr. 10) and Shikhar Ahuja (Gr. 10).  Two from Somerville H.S.: Andrew Dailey (Gr. 9) and Rishi Purohit (Gr. 8)  (although attending Middle School,  Rishi also attend Math program in H.S.).  The rest of the team members include: Julian Lee /2nd-Captain (Gr. 10 from Pingry School), Arya Nagabhyru (Gr. 11 from Pittstown H.S.), Adithya Swaminathan (Gr. 11 from South Brunswick H.S.), Deep Patel (Gr. 11 from The Pennington School, PA), Mehal Kashyap (Gr. 12 from Edison H.S.), and Jalen Patel (Gr. 11 from Moorestown Friends School, PA).

Zero Robotics is an annual robotics programming competition where the robots are SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites) inside the International Space Station. This is from the SPHERES-ZERO-Robotics program run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  Students (Gr.9+) write algorithms for the SPHERES satellites to accomplish tasks relevant to future space missions.  

Former Astronaut giving a speech at the 2018 ISS-Final