More Than 150 Students Selected in Semifinal Round of Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2021

When NASA and Future Engineers launched the Artemis Moon Pod essay contest in September 2020, thousands of students from across the United States responded by submitting their innovative visions of a one-week stay at the Moon’s south pole. On March 23, 2021, 155 of those students learned their essays had been selected as semifinalists and are moving on to the next round of competition.

The agency announced the semifinalists at the conclusion of a virtual event open to all those who entered the competition. Guest speakers included NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold; Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate; and Mike Kincaid, associate administrator of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement.

“To go to the Moon on one of these Artemis missions, the experience of exploration and wonder, to bathe in that sense of 'magnificent desolation,' as Buzz Aldrin said when he walked on the surface of the Moon – that makes for a very, very compelling journey," said Arnold, a veteran of two spaceflights who also has taught middle and high school math and science.

“There are 14,000 of you,” he added, speaking to the students who’d gathered online for the virtual event. “Come be a part of this journey! We’re going to continue to head to some magical places and we need your help to make it happen.”

Over 1,000 educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts served as volunteer judges, reading through the 14,000 essays submitted from students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The essay contest is a collaborative effort between Future Engineers and NASA’s Artemis Program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon. In order to encourage students to think ahead about the human and technological needs of a lunar expedition, the essay asked students to explain who they would want in their crew, or “pod,” and why? What types of technology and devices would they bring along? Which of these would they leave behind to benefit future crews arriving to stay on the Moon?

“I’m really looking forward to reading the semi-finalists and finalists,” Lueders said. She pointed out the importance of Artemis – and today’s Artemis Generation of students – in the agency’s plans to use the Moon as a training ground for future human exploration on the Red Planet.

“What I think is really cool is that you will be the generation that’s going to Mars,” she said. “You all better be online when we launch Artemis I – and be thinking about how you’ll be helping us go to Mars!”

Each semifinalist will receive an Artemis Prize Pack filled with space-themed prizes, as well as an opportunity to attend a series of virtual Artemis Explorer Sessions with NASA experts. In April, the contest will be narrowed to nine national finalists who will then be interviewed about their essays. Three grand prize winners will be announced in May 2021 and will win a grand prize trip to attend NASA’s Artemis I launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

But there was one more surprise in store for all the students two submitted an entry: NASA will fly a digital copy of all 14,000 essays around the Moon aboard Artemis I. Students also will receive a signed certificate from the agency.

“It will leave low-Earth orbit, circle the Moon and come back,” Kincaid said. “You’ll to be able to tell your friends, ‘Hey, my essay is on that spacecraft!’”

The recording of the live event can be viewed on YouTube.

Visit NASA STEM for more exciting opportunities and challenges, and learn more about NASA’s Artemis Program on the program’s website.

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