Photo: NASA

Low Earth Orbit Space Debris Challenge

Sat 3/30 @ 4PM - Sun 3/31 @ 1PM

Mudd 833 & Lerner Satow Room


Satellites are said to be in LEO if they have a maximum altitude of less than 1,200 statute miles, or if they orbit the Earth at most every 128 minutes. The vast majority of artificial satellites are in LEO. Satellites in these orbits are used for earth observation, intelligence gathering, communications, various kinds of science, and crewed spaceflight. Various kinds of “space junk”, like upper stages, payload fairings, and debris from spaceflights, is also in LEO.

The vast majority of satellites, once placed in orbit, do not contain propulsion systems. As a result, satellites that have completed their missions or failed on orbit are generally left in space until their orbit decays (the air resistance even in orbit will create drag on the satellite and eventually cause the satellite to reenter). However, this process can take years, and satellite operators do not generally have control over their spacecraft’s orbit or orientation during this time. This makes the LEO region space more crowded and more dangerous for following generations of satellites, and ultimately places the ability of humanity to access and act in this region of space. A primary purpose of this hackathon is to seek out new ways of addressing the problem of debris in LEO, both for satellites currently in space, and satellites that have yet to launch.



Seek out creative solutions to the LEO debris problem either through private industry solutions, or through the creation of national or international policy.

Policy Challenge Description

Prize: Signed copy of Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe


Seek out creative solutions to the LEO debris problem by designing a device or mechanism capable of mitigating this threat. This could be by means of avoidance, active cleanup (contact or contactless), or disposal strategies.

Hardware Challenge Description

Prize: F9 Model Rocket


Seek out creative solutions to the LEO debris problem through novel software applications, utilities, or simulations.

Software Challenge Description

Prize: ULA Hoodies


Time Location Event
4:00 PM Mudd 833 Kickoff
4:30 PM Mudd 833 Hacking begins
5:30 PM Mudd 833 Dinner
6:30 PM Mudd 833 Dessert
11:00 PM Mudd 833 Late Night Snack
1:00 AM Mudd 833 Hacking Suspended for the night
9:00 AM Lerner Satow Room (5th Floor) Hacking Resumes
9:30 AM Lerner Satow Room (5th Floor) Breakfast and Coffee
11:30 AM Lerner Satow Room (5th Floor) Hacking concludes. Judging begins
1:00 PM Lerner Satow Room (5th Floor) Winners announced


Best Overall Hack

Best Policy Hack

Best Hardware Hack

Best Software Hack


  • Nik Moiiseev (Final Frontier Design)
  • Justus Killian (Space Angels)
  • Sidney Nakahodo (New York Space Alliance)
  • [Mentor] Joseph Spens (SpaceApps NYC)