Space Apps Dublin 2017 — Mission Report

Space exploration creativity lifts off in Dublin

In April of this year, teams in Dublin competed in NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge — now the biggest design hackathon on the Planet. Top prize? An invite to a rocket launch! 🚀 This is the second year for the local organising team to design and deliver the event, which is growing from strength to strength with more teams and new sponsors joining as the Irish Space-tech community develops. The following article is a summary of the key moments and takeaways from this year’s competition.

Want to get involved? Drop us a message! hello{at}

About Space Apps

The International Space Apps Challenge is a 2-day product development event, that was launched with a press release from NASA in September 2011 to support the Open Government Partnership (OGP) created by President Obama.

A NASA incubator innovation program, the International Space Apps Challenge is designed to encourage teams from around the Globe to collaborate around NASA’s open data to solve mission-related challenges.

The very first Space Apps competition held in 2012 had over 2,000 participants globally, and it has already grown to an impressive 25,140 participants that took part in the 2017 event, spread across 187 locations and 69 countries.

Every year the staff at NASA develop several real-world challenges for teams to tackle that leverage data derived from Space missions managed by NASA and other Space agencies including ESA (the European Space Agency).

Over the years, challenges have ranged from solving problems related to Astronaut well-being on orbit, to the health of our own Planet Earth. While some of the challenges are certainly geared to technical skillsets, others are better suited to designers and great communicators, so a full range of diverse backgrounds are encouraged to get involved!

Local Organising Team

Our number one goal for this event is to inspire and catalyse the local community, and longer-term to create new opportunities in the Irish economy. Our hard-working, agile organising team put in long hours over two months to prepare for this year’s event. Next year we will be growing the volunteer organising team so let us know if you or anyone you know would like to join us!

Niall, Ruth and Cian from the Space Apps Dublin Organising Team
Alan and John from Blackstone Launchpad @ Trinity with Niall and Cian from Baily Labs

Event Sponsors

We approached several organisations this year that we felt were aligned with the mission (Space community building) and all of them immediately agreed to join us as co-sponsors. Their support = capacity to grow this free and volunteer-run event that we feel is at the heart of fostering Ireland’s Space-tech community at a grassroots level. It’s as simple as that!

Blackstone Launchpad — if you’re a Trinity student or alumni with a startup idea, make sure to drop in to John, Alan, and Stu to say hi! Blackstone LaunchPad at Trinity is part of a campus based entrepreneurship program, accessible by over 500K students globally, designed to support and mentor students, staff and alumni — regardless of major, experience or discipline.

Smart Dublin — Jamie, Zaira and the team are running challenges and other initiatives to help tackle problems in our city, make sure to check them out!

ESA Space Solutions Ireland — with presence across the country in Maynooth, Cork, Athlone and Dublin, David and his team of Space industry experts are looking for new technology products and services that can be repurposed and plugged into the Space industry.

Dublin City Council — proudly supporting events in the city, our colleagues at the council have a great programme lined up for the rest of the year here.

Baily Labs — team of passionate product designers with Space in their DNA via ISU, JPL and ESA mission operations. Inspiring the next generation of systems thinkers in Ireland.

Space Apps Dublin 2017 — the results

Held over a weekend in April, this year’s event focussed on challenges related to Earth Science, and leveraged data from ‘EO’ (Earth observation) satellites.


This year 8 teams and 50+ participants took part in the Dublin event, selecting challenges related to water, fire, bees, natural disasters, and climate change.

The Judging Panel

On the Sunday evening the teams pitched their solutions to an experienced and diverse panel including:

Local Winners

In the end the judging panel selected two teams (Polar Bears and Storytellers) that qualified for the global round, and a third team was selected for the People’s Choice award (Malax). Interestingly, the team behind Polar Bears all work in IBM’s large Dublin campus, but had never met or worked together before.

The Space Apps event is a great place to work with people on solutions for challenging problem domains such as space with very interesting, cutting-edge datasets, said Souleiman Hasan, the team lead for Storytellers.
Credit: Silicon Republic
Data visualisation by Team Polar Bears

Special Guests

In town for talks at Google and IBM, we also had the pleasure of hosting Omar Hatamleh, Chief Innovation Officer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, for a chat with some of the participants. Drone, AI and other experts including a bee ecologist also dropped in to meet the teams and offer some mentoring.

More Swag

No doubt that there’s a direct correlation between the number of sponsors and the quality of swag at a tech community event, and this year did not disappoint. Thanks to our friends at the T-Shirt company for great service.

Fuelling creativity

We served up 200+ nutritious meals over the two days, made easy by the great folks at Little Ass on Dawson Street.

A new promotional video

Space Apps Dublin 2017 — promo video

The Venue

Our friends at Blackstone Launchpad helped us secure the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute for the weekend, with a great collaborative team space and auditoriums for the presentations.


Events like these attract talent, and help to foster a culture of creativity, curiosity, and inclusiveness. We’re also helping to put Ireland on the map in Downstream Space (Data), by fostering connectivity and collaboration at a grassroots level and opening up new opportunities.

Thank you

To everybody that helped make this year’s event another success, including participants, judges, our great co-sponsors, the NASA team, other community organisers, and all of our suppliers — thank you once again! :)

If you would like to get involved in next year’s event as a participant, sponsor, judge or volunteer organiser, or in some other way, please drop us a message! hello{at}

What’s next?

Keep an eye out on Meetup for our next Space data event or register your interest here.