The Your Place in Space Challenge is a CTE Momentum challenge to create new solutions for space. The U.S. Department of Education invites high schools to submit entries that demonstrate a product or service that will contribute to space missions and exploration.
Growing opportunities in the space industry
In the five decades since astronauts first walked on the Moon, space has become an important part of the American economy. Today, the space industry employs hundreds of thousands of people and generates hundreds of billions of dollars in economic value. Activities in space are critical to life on Earth — powering navigation, connectivity, logistics, agricultural management, security, and more. Our continued exploration of space also inspires wonder, discovery, and technological advancement.
Space careers promise higher-than-average wages and strong growth expectations over the coming decades. Yet private-sector and public-sector entities already struggle to fill critical roles, from engineers and technicians to machinists and communications professionals. The space industry is expected to triple in size over the next 30 years, employing over 1.5 million people and generating $780 billion in economic activity by 2050 — but without a skilled workforce, that vision will never become a reality.
Although astronauts attract significant public attention, the vast majority of people who make space missions and space exploration possible perform their jobs on Earth. Space missions are a team sport: Trainers prepare astronauts for the physical demands of space flight; welders manufacture spacecraft; chefs design menus and prepare food; data scientists analyze Earth observation data; botanists create methods to grow plants in microgravity. Almost any career can be a space career.
Helping students find their place in space
Many career and technical education (CTE) skills are already suited to success in the space industry. Culinary Arts students could one day design menus and prepare food for space expeditions. Students enrolled in Hospitality programs could support space tourism operations. A Health Sciences graduate could enter a career supporting life in microgravity conditions. The applied learning model of many CTE programs also equips students with practical experience prior to entering the workforce. This positions them well for the space industry, where employers are eager to hire people with hands-on skills.
Though CTE programs present a natural starting point for a space career, many students don’t know how their career pathways connect to the space industry. With so much attention on a narrow subset of roles like astronauts and rocket scientists, other crucial roles in the space industry are less visible.
The Your Place in Space Challenge will connect the dots between the skills students are building in CTE programs and the fulfilling careers they can have in the space industry.
How the challenge will unfold
The Your Place in Space Challenge launched on March 21, 2023. In the spring, teachers can browse the resources section to learn more about the space industry and review the submission form to begin planning for submissions. Additional resources may be added throughout the challenge.
When a new school year begins, teachers can work closely with their student teams on their design. Submissions will close on October 30, 2023. Judging will commence in November. Up to 10 winners will be selected and announced in early 2024. Learn more about the selection criteria and awards.
This challenge seeks to accomplish the following:
- Create engaging learning opportunities for students to explore the challenges and opportunities in space missions.
- Connect CTE programs with a wide variety of space careers.
- Inspire students to envision and pursue space careers.
Teams will submit designs for a product or service that advances space missions and exploration. Possible designs may include but are not limited to:
- A solution for a space-related problem of your choice. Get creative!
- An approach that will help address the problem of space debris.
- A device that benefits workers on the International Space Station.
- A restaurant, hotel, or entertainment concept for space travelers.
- An app that uses data captured from space to support an environmental effort.
For an overview of the challenge and how to participate, watch the recording of the virtual information session that was held on May 10, 2023. Also, read additional highlights from the session.
- An eligible entrant to the Your Place in Space Challenge must meet the definition of Eligible Recipient in section 3(21)(A) of Perkins V and be eligible to receive funds under section 131 of Perkins V.
- The term ‘‘eligible recipient’’ means a local educational agency (including a public charter school that operates as a local educational agency), an area career and technical education school, an educational service agency, an Indian Tribe, Tribal organization, or Tribal educational agency or a consortium, eligible to receive assistance under section 131.
The Department will make eligibility determinations after the close of open submissions. For more information, please refer to the rules, terms, and conditions, or check with your school’s administration or your state or local CTE coordinator.
About CTE Momentum
CTE Momentum is a U.S. Department of Education annual challenge series to prepare high school students for rewarding careers and increase access to career and technical education.
Each school year, the U.S. Department of Education will invite educators and high school students to participate in a new challenge focused on a topic of national importance. This annual series will empower educators with resources and ideas to help American schools become centers of innovation and possibility.