Skywatch invites Waterloo tech community to space-focused NASA hackathon


Back in 2014, Waterloo-based SkyWatch won NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge for creating software dedicated to helping astrophysicists and the public access satellite and remote-sensing data. The company got the chance to meet NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and were guests of NASA at the Orion spacecraft’s first test launch, a vehicle which will be taking the first humans to Mars.

This month, the company is showing its continued commitment fostering innovation in astronomy by leading the organization of the NASA International Space Apps Challenge in the Waterloo Region, taking place at Communitech between April 22 to 24.

The hackathon is meant to attract developers, citizen scientists, makers, and entrepreneurs for 48 hours to address NASA­-designed challenges. Waterloo joins 170 other cities hosting their own Space Apps Challenges that weekend, for an estimated total of 15,000 global participants.

Participants will choose to work in the following categories: Aeronautics, Space Station, Solar System, Technology, Earth, and Journey to Mars, and will leverage both NASA’s celestial data and a roster of mentors to create practical solutions.

“NASA’s Space Apps Challenge is the most unique hackathon on Earth,” said space apps organizer and SkyWatch CEO James Slifierz. “The event allows a range of skilled participants the opportunity to build something amazing that can be used in the real world, or space, using NASA tools and data. To add to the excitement, for the first time ever in Canada, participants could receive support for their ideas outside of the hackathon and possibly launch their own space startup.”

Two winning solutions from the Waterloo challenge will move on to compete with other winners from across the globe, to be judged by the NASA International Space Apps Challenge team.

Photo courtesy Yuri Beletsky

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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