One Small Step: Mission I

The year is 2030.

A new age of scientific discovery! Research groups around the world are swiftly making breakthroughs which will soon make INTERPLANETARY EXPLORATION of our Solar System a reality.

Encouraged by public opinion, Earth’s governments are cooperating to establish humanity’s first space settlement on the MOON, returning to the planetary body after six decades away.

Detailed investigation of the lunar landscape is required.  A MOBILE MISSION is soon to be launched, identifying candidate sites on the Moon’s surface and laying the path for expeditions beyond Earth….

ARCHIVE This Mission of the Digital Competition was open from April-June 2020.

The Challenge

Your task is to design the vehicle which will be used to explore the Moon’s surface. The vehicle will be home to a team of four astronauts for all six months of their mission.

There are all sorts of aspects that you can consider when designing things for space. We suggest you think about some of these questions:

  • What will your vehicle be called?
  • What is the overall size and shape of the vehicle, and how it will move on the Moon’s surface?
  • How can electrical power be provided to the vehicle?
  • What will be needed to support living conditions for residents during their mission?

ADDITIONAL TASK: (published 30th April 2020): Having designed your vehicle, it will now need a way of landing on the Moon's surface. A rocket can 'drop off' a payload 100km above the surface. During this descent:

  • How will the vehicle be protected from damage when landing?
  • What will protect the human passengers if a landing goes wrong?

The page limit is being extended to three sides of A4 in total. Please note that all of the above is part of the same challenge and all six aspects will be considered - so please include all your work together in one file.

You might want to write on paper and scan it in or work on a digital document. You can enter either as an individual, or as a team of up to four, if you are aged 9 and over and still in school.


We are pleased to announce the winners of the first Digital Competition.

Best of Key Stage 2: Forbearance K-11 by Kian

We were impressed that Kian included nitrogen in the design alongside oxygen for breathing, and that a gym was included to try and compensate for bone loss. Overall, great presentation with both computer and hand drawn diagrams.

Best of Key Stage 3: Noah 20 by Zaeem

In a detailed and beautifully presented design, Zaeem gave consideration to the lunar day-night cycle and its effect on power production. The landing of the craft was well described, even taking into account the time of landing and possible debris from the impact. A very impressive entry supported by research and scientific principles.

Best of Key Stage 4: Proxima and Captain by Vaibhav, Siddharth and Harsha

This is a well researched piece that shows clear scientific understanding and consideration for all aspects of life for the passengers. Vaibhav, Siddharth and Harsha have given great explanations for the aspects of their vehicle, and the landing stages and emergency procedures are particularly well designed.

Best of Key Stage 5: Project OPIS by James, Nicholas and Sophie

This design clearly shows a lot of well-researched ideas and explanations were given with clear consideration for all aspects of the design. James, Nicholas and Sophie ensured their vehicle would be suitable for the moon by considering a range of aspects including thermal controls, layered wall designs and dust mitigation.

The Science Award: The Lunar Tank by Kairavi and Het

This design ensures the survival of crew in a range of situations and is underpinned by scientifically accurate principles. Amongst many design elements, we particularly liked Kairavi's and Het's explanations of electrolysis to obtain oxygen and hydrogen from water and means of protecting against space radiation.

The Innovation Award: HNHV (Helium-3 Noisu Habitation Vehicle) by Vignesh, Maxwell and Sai

This interesting proposal identified Helium-3 as a potential material to be mined from the Moon as a future energy source. Vignesh, Maxwell and Sai's design consisted of two halves each housing two astronauts; a creative way to separate the operational and habitable components of the vehicle.

The Illustration Award: The MoonWalker by Maciej

Maciej's large and clear drawings helped us visualise exactly how this vehicle would be configured. Plan views of the exterior and interior, all labelled, showed the different components of the vehicle and revealed a clear understanding of the facilities astronauts would need on the Moon.

Gold Awards

VIXI by Koustuv and Krishn The Bumblebee by Amogh, Srithan and Raagav Atalanta by Eloise and Mae
Spatium by Sophie and Olga Bumblebee Rover by Oscar and Pratyush Caladenia Elegans- the elegant orchid spider by Vaibhav

Silver Awards

ML Pioneer by Ishtarth, Sachit, Anirudh and Abhay Selene 1 by Anupam Artemis FD06 by Oisin and Daniel
Spatium Rimor I by Sai, Ved, Ojas and Keon Dark Voyager by Azmeer, Shuban, Shivam and Anish Rejuvinator by Harry
The ArmstrongMobile by Charlotte Glory-22 by Raina, Abigail and Anastasia Eduardo San Juan by Theo
The Lunar Loner by Shaun B.I.L.L (Big interplanetary Location Lander ) by Ellie and Oliver

Bronze Awards

Dimitria by Maahi, Aahana, Emma and Almaz Elpis by Sophia The AMULARR by Charlie, Katie and Charlotte
Traveller by Dennis MOON-V by Praneel and Aryaa The Selenis by Anushka
Potato Power by Freya, Sarah and Tumi Quick Fiery Rover by Esther Roll-Model by Aashman and Jawad
Lunar Spirits by Yathra The Hermes by Pranav D.A.V by Kwame
RC Rover by Finn Scientist by Raghav and Quincy Luna Rimor by Giuseppe, Trishanjeet, Timi and Rayan
Moon Rat by Dylan and Yanis The tuski moon exploration and reasearch rover by Mila, Ben, Jeel and Audry MOONSENSUS NOMAD by Arpan and Kaustubh
Star Walker by Maximilian Morpheus (The Greek God of Dreams) by Devaansh Intergalactic Cosmic Mobile by Sophia, Millie and Katie
Celeritas VI by Lyra and Byron Luna Vaga II by Kieran, Henri and Prashant Lunar Explorer by Aishani
Apollogy by Aarav Aquila by Thomas MVGC by Aoife
M-30 by Matilda Ares 270 by Anna, Ruby and Millie