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NASA Announces Winners of its Future of Flight Challenge

Small boy painting a black sky with a rainbow of colors that resemble feather plummage
The Future-Scaping Our Skies Challenge aims to understand how societal, technological, environmental, economic, regulatory, and political changes over the next 30 years could impact aviation and vice versa.

NASA has named nine winners in the Future-Scaping our Skies challenge. The competition asked the public to help envision the future of flight, anticipating how societal, technological, regulatory, environmental, economic, and political changes over the next 30 years might impact aviation, and vice versa. More than 30 submissions were received.

“The response to this challenge was overwhelming,” said Keith Wichman, lead of the Convergent Aeronautics Solutions project at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

The magnitude of submissions we received will help steer NASA in the right direction as we explore the future of the skies and strive to increase innovation in aviation.

Keith Wichman

Keith Wichman

Convergent Aeronautics Solutions Project Lead

A panel of judges assessed submissions based on their descriptions of possible future scenarios in aviation and key factors or trends leading to the proposed outcome. The winning submissions were:

  • First place $7,500: Turbologic Density Interop – Team Sparkletron
  • Second place $5,000: Open Source and the Future of Aviation – Matthew Congrove
  • Third place $2,500: A Look at the World of U.S. Aviation in 2051 – Craig Payne
  • Fourth place $2,500: Stars and Scars: A Tale of Two Air Systems – Jeff Morse
  • Fifth place $1,000: Sustainable Skies: Aviation in a United World – Finn Russom
  • Sixth place $1,000: Better Tomorrow and Future of Aviation – Team Better Tomorrow
  • Seventh place $500: Urban eVTOL Futurescape – Pete Bitar
  • Eighth place $500: Re-Learning to Fly – Brian Dawson
  • Ninth place $500: Sovereign Skies – Jes Foster

Team Sparkletron took home first place by discussing how the role of advances in computation and machine learning might better model changes in aviation and the future state of this sector – both in commercial and personal flying applications.

The second-place winner, Matthew Congrove, presented an idea for a new wave of innovation in aviation brought about by an increasing interest in open data and software to develop a wide variety of technologies, including assisting pilots with navigation and bolstering autonomous flight.

Craig Payne, the third-place winner, predicted a future of flight that is more automated, efficient, and passenger-friendly, noting faster flights and more reliance on semi-autonomous control and monitoring of air traffic.

A winners webinar will be held August 5 at 8 a.m. EST. You can attend the event here.

NASA’s Convergent Aeronautics Solutions project conducted this challenge. The project invests in identifying the right problems related to aviation that can make a transformational impact on society. The project is part of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

The NASA Tournament Lab, part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing program in the Space Technology Mission Directorate, manages the challenge. The program supports public competitions and crowdsourcing as tools to advance NASA research and development and other mission needs.

Learn more about opportunities to participate in your space program via NASA prizes and challenges.

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