Huntsville's Inaugural Space Apps Challenge


On behalf of New Leaf Digital and the Greater Huntsville AIAA Section, we are proud to host Huntsville's first-ever NASA Space Apps Challenge—a 32-hour "Earth Observation" themed hardware + software + design competition. 

This is NASA's 6th year hosting this competition, for which 160+ cities across the globe participate on the same weekend every year. We are proud to add Huntsville to the roster this year.


Register your team

From past experience, we've learned that challenges are best populated when registered by teams. Teams are 3-5 people. You're welcome to register individually and then we'll help you join a team once you arrive at the event!



For 32 hours across the world, problem solvers like you will join us for NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, one of the largest hackathons in the universe. Empowered by open data, you will collaborate with strangers, colleagues, friends, and family to solve perplexing challenges in new and unexpected ways -- from designing an interactive space glove to natural language processing to clean water mapping. Join us on our open data mission, and show us how you innovate.

How It Works

  1. Register yourself and/or your team. Free. Anyone of any age or background is welcome to participate. You do not need to be a coder, engineer, or professional - you could register as a writer, designer, project manager, or just as a creative person who wants to be involved. If you don't have a team, we'll help you join one!
  2. On Saturday, April 29, at 9am, come to Lowe Mill and park just inside the gate. The event will take place at Huntsville STEAM Works, a new hardware prototyping lab inside Lowe Mill. We'll have signs showing you where to go. Want to spectate? Come by!
  3. On the morning of April 29, we'll reveal two sets of challenges: NASA's 30 official challenges (as of yet unreleased), as well as our community challenges. Winners of NASA's official challenges will advance to compete in NASA's international competition, whereas winners of our community challenges will win cash/prizes
  4. From 9am on Saturday, April 29 until 5pm on Sunday, April 30, teams will work around the clock to build solutions to the challenges proposed. Teams have the option of working and sleeping remotely or working and sleeping at Huntsville STEAM Works.
  5. Teams interested in solving hardware challenges will have access to Huntsville STEAM Works' selection of 3D Printers, lathes, CNC mills, laser cutters, and woodworking tools, as well as a selection of materials to work with. Teams solving design/software challenges will have table space and outlets to plug into, but will need to bring their own laptops.
  6. Throughout the event, various speakers will speak, local companies will table, and meals/snacks will be served. At the end of the event, teams' submissions will be judged by our panel of judges before prizes are awarded.
  7. It's shaping up to be an incredible event! Please share our flyer and get involved. See our Press page for updates. Contact with any questions. See you there!


Become a sponsor of Huntsville's inaugural NASA Space Apps Challenge, benefit from the exposure generated for this event, and reap the rewards of accelerated innovation from the event. Download our Sponsorship Information Package to learn more. 




There are two types of challenges that will be posted for the SpaceApps Challenge. The first is NASA-endorsed challenges, which are the official challenges that could lead to participants competing on an international level with teams from around the world. The second is community challenges, which are provided by anyone in the community who wants to suggest topics to innovate on. Solutions to both challenges will make participants eligible to win our cash and local prizes.

Official NASA Challenge

April 20, 2017: NASA's official challenges have been released! 

We recently found out that the five categories for this year's challenges are:

  1. The Earth and Us
  2. Planetary Blues
  3. Warning! Danger Ahead!
  4. Our Ecological Neighborhood
  5. Ideate and Create!

Community Challenges

Here are the submissions we've received for community challenges. Submit additional challenges by emailing:


Teams are comprised of 3-5 people that work together over the 32-hour period of the hackathon. No one is required to remain at the event throughout that entire duration (team members may work remotely), but generally team members remain accessible to each other throughout the event and contribute toward a common goal. 

Team members often consist of individuals who hold or assume roles along the lines of the following: coder, designer, project manager, writer, engineer. We would like to build teams in three demographic segments for this event:

High School

If you are a student or teacher, please bring your entire class. Students can self-assemble teams of 3-5 team members, or your class can come as a whole and we will help you divide into teams once you arrive.


Same as with high school, if you are a student or teacher, please bring your entire class. Students can self-assemble teams of 3-5 team members, or your class can come as a whole and we will help you divide into teams once you arrive.


The "Open" segment is for non-student participants of any age or background. Consider forming a team, or sign up solo to be placed on a team once you arrive.

Pictured: The two teams that won Huntsville's ExpeditionHacks Hackathon in February 2017



We've had several very generous prizes donated so far:

  • $10,000 cash
    Provided by anonymous

  • A private 1-hour flight for 2 over Huntsville
    Provided by Crossflow Technologies

  • A tour for 5 of Phil Sumrall's hangar and airplanes

  • A tour of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

  • Lunch with MSFC Center Chief Technologist and present design/work to MSFC Center Chief Technologist, Engineering Directorate Managers, or Challenge Owner

  • Tour of NASA Stennis Space Center (Mississippi) to see an engine firing and a tour of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans (trip at challenge winner's own expense)

If your company would like to donate prizes in exchange for exposure with our audience, please us know!



New Leaf Digital is a Huntsville-based 501(c)(3) innovation education nonprofit. With 1,500 members and 6 events/month, New Leaf Digital is building an innovation economy in Huntsville. The organization regularly hosts innovation conferences, hackathons, speaker series, workshops, and tech demos geared toward helping individuals and businesses alike harness the power of outside-of-the-box thinking and creation.


The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has served as the premier professional society for the aerospace profession since its founding in 1963. Today AIAA has more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries and 95 corporate members. AIAA is the leading aerospace publisher, an influential public policy voice for the aerospace industry, and an important information resource for those working in the aerospace profession.


Huntsville STEAM Works is a new 58,00 sq/ft hardware prototyping lab located at Lowe Mill. Complete with 3D printers, CNC mills, laser cutters, and manual tools, Huntsville STEAM Works gives creators ample space and resources to build to their heart's content.


Organizing Team



Become a community ambassador and help us reach the software and aerospace engineering populations of Huntsville. We have a goal of 300 attendees for this event, which is traditionally difficult to achieve during weekends in Huntsville. Help us reach a broad audience by partnering to help us market to these audiences in exchange for visibility in our promotional efforts.


Participating Companies

The following companies will be attending Huntsville's first NASA Space Apps Challenge to offer information about their programs, services, employment opportunities, and tech.





The following folks will be judging the SpaceApps Challenge. We aspire to build three panels of five judges each to accommodate each of our three team segments (high school, college, and open). If you are interested in judging this competition, please contact us.