NASA’s International Space Apps Challenges in Kathmandu


Space Apps is an international hackathon that occurs over 48 hours in cities around the world. Part of the Open Government Partnership, Space Apps is an annual event that pulls citizens together regardless of their background or skill level. Here are the few Snapshots of Space App Challenges in Kathmandu. (Happening Now at Trade Tower)

What is the International Space Apps Challenge?

The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in cities around the world. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space. This is the fifth time it is being organized worldwide. This year there will around 20-30 challenges on Earth Theme in five challenge categories: Earth and us, Ideate and Create, Planetary Blues, Warning Danger Ahead, Ecological Neighbourhood. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with a number of government collaborators and around 200 local organizing teams across the globe.

NASA’s International Space Apps Challenges in Kathmandu

In 2013, International Space Apps Challenge was organized for the first time in Kathmandu by Young Innovations and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) under the framework of SERVIR Himalaya on 20–21 April 2013 at DECC, Tripureshwor. Sixteen teams comprising of 61 participants took part in the event. Team ‘Karkhana Rover’ won the first place in the local level competition while ‘Curiosity in Kathmandu’ bagged the first runner up title. Karkhana Nepal went on to receive an honorable mention in the global competition.

The second edition of the hackathon was held from 12–13 April 2014 at Trade Tower Business Centre, Thapathali, Kathmandu. Like 2013, more than 60 challenges were organized in five thematic areas: technology in space, human spaceflight, asteroids, earth watch, and robotics. Participants had to pick a challenge from the given pool and provide their innovative solutions.

Project ‘Clean City’ was announced as the winner of International Space Apps Challenge Kathmandu 2014, and it was nominated for the ‘Most Inspiring’ category in the global competition. The first and second runners up of the Kathmandu level competition were ‘Cool Nepal’ (which was nominated for the ‘Best Use of Data’ category in the global competition) and ‘Android Rover’ respectively. Project ‘Track Me’ won the people’s choice award.

In 2015, the third hackathon was organized from April 11-12, 2016 at The Royal Event Pvt. Ltd., Tinkune. There were 63 participants working on global as well as local challenges. Besides the 25 challenges put forward internationally, there were local ones that put forward issues currently faced by an international agency and government. A total of 11 female participants, a leap from previous year’s 1, actively worked on the challenges rightly supporting 2015’s focus of promoting women in data through the International Space Apps Challenge. There were a total of 14 teams, 11 working on global challenges while 3 focusing on local ones. Team Smart Meter, Team Clean Water Mapping and Team Tracking & Sensing through Android Robotics were announced first, second and third respectively. Team Tracking & Sensing through Android Robotics was also announced as the ‘Most Inspirational’ team by global judges.

In 2016, the fourth hackathon was organized from April 20-21, 2016 at The Royal Event Pvt. Ltd., Tinkune. There were 72 participants working on global as well as local challenges. Participants have developed a solution for international challenges as well as local challenges putting forward the issues faced by local agency and government. Like the previous year, a significant number of female participation made an event more participative. Out of Total 15 teams, 10 teams worked on global challenges while 5 teams focused on local ones. Team Smart Nepali was announced as the winner for the event and received funding from ICIMOD for the development of the prototype.

This year Robotics Association of Nepal(RAN) will be organizing 5th International Nasa Space app challenge here with the same vision and objective and take the local solution developed during the challenge to the international stage. RAN has been supporting YIPL for successful conduction of NASA Space App through mentorship to the participants, promotion of the event to the engineering community. RAN believe this year NASA space will be more impactful through more number of the local solution as well as the global challenge. We are targeting to win the international space app challenge as well.

The objective of organizing Space Apps Challenge in Kathmandu

RAN have decided to organize 2017 edition of Space Apps Challenge based on the community RAN has developed so far in this past 7 years and positive feedback and support we receive from last year organizer Young innovation Pvt. Ltd themselves. The way participants had worked together in different teams to compete for global challenges, bringing in perspectives and insight from the local level was an experience NASA space app organizer can share proudly. This also gives enough room for organizing such events regularly and at a larger scale so that we can inspire a bigger crowd to participate in an international event such as this one.

At the same time, we have observed that these events are extremely important in bringing stakeholders from different sectors to work on issues that matter to people in our context.

Following the theme of Space Apps Challenge, we see a great prospect in this year challenge of allowing participants to work on various local humanitarian issues that can perhaps be continued by relevant agencies even after the event. We believe that this would open opportunities for participants to create local apps with which they can benefit from along with the agencies and public. We also want to take this event as an opportunity to link young students and professionals with electronics and computing background to establish linkages with technologists, environmentalists, use data that can be made available and come up with prototypes of applications that can be scaled up.

What are the challenges that this year’s event will focus on?

There will be different challenges put forward after international app organizer announce them out like previous years on Cost-effective Irrigation technology for sandy river banks, water supply for an uphill settlement above the river, River Shifting trend analysis and projection, EWS for Creep Landslide, Agricultural Drought Forecasting, sugarcane potential area mapping, and flood hazard modeling. In addition to these challenges, local challenges will be developed for the participants in collaboration with ICIMOD and Mercycorps. Those challenges will be accompanied by necessary data and will be defined in collaboration with our partner organizations and network. Participants taking up the local challenge will not be able to take part in the global

competition. However, they will get an opportunity to refine their apps and prototype even after the event with the support of organizers.

Who are behind the event?

Robotics Association Of Nepal will host the event as core organizers. The following organizations will also support the event by contributing their expertise and mobilizing their networks. RAN will collaborate with previous sponsors ICIMOD and Mercycorps as well.

Nepal Engineers’ Association (NEA)
Young Innovation Pvt. Ltd. (YIPL)
Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL)
CSIT Association of Nepal (CSITAN)
Others Expected Participants:
Participation from almost all the engineering and IT students/professionals from Tribhuwan, Purbanchal, Pokhara and Kathmandu University where innovative 20 groups consisting of maximum 4 participants will be selected for the best idea.

Outcomes From NASA Space App 2017:

By the end of the NASA space app, at least one winning teams would be working with organizing teams to solve the local problems forwarded by joint organizers. Participation of at least 20 teams. 100 event attendance by the engineers, tech-enthusiasts and interested people. 80 IT & engineering students/ makers will gain advanced skill and knowledge of coding and its implementation in hardware devices and will also learn to work in app making and design in order to solve local problems.

The participants will be offered with $100 Amazon Web Service(AWS) credit. Global Champion of each category will be invited attend upcoming NASA’s Rocket Launch in NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida Here are the Event Details: As the pre-event, there will be orientation programme at Nepal Engineers’ Association Seminar Hall on April 22nd, 2017 which will be followed by two days hackathon at Thapathali Trade Tower, Thapathali on April 29-30th, 2017.


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