Journey To Mars: Mission II

Journey to Mars

The year is 2041.

Following successful exploration in the 2030s, permanent settlements have been established on orbiting space stations and the Moon.

Attention now turns to MARS, where robotic probes have scouted the surface and identified potential landing sites for humans.

Preparing for INTERPLANETARY TRAVEL, a team of astronauts will soon set out from Earth on a long journey to the red planet....

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

The Challenge

Produce a flight manual to be used by a crew of 30 astronauts during their journey.

They will travel over 60 million kilometres, for a duration of nine months or more. The judges are looking for creative ideas to help the crew members stay both physically and mentally healthy.

Your flight manual can be up to 4 sides of A4.

Flight manual specification

  • Include diagrams of the exterior and interior of the spacecraft. Explain how it will be propelled towards Mars.
  • Outline the astronauts' daily schedules, and suggest the different activities they will do.
  • Consider how to help the crew cope with isolation in space for the nine month duration of the journey.
  • Propose at least two experiments that can be conducted during the journey. One of these should be in detail.
    (Hint: a well-designed experiment has a prediction or hypothesis to investigate)

Submitting your entry

You can enter if you are aged 9 to 18 years old, either

  • as part of a team of up to four members, or
  • as an individual.

The closing deadline for entries was 5pm on Friday 3rd July 2020.

Judging Criteria

The judging panel will be considering these questions:


Is your entry based on real scientific principles?


Does your entry use original and creative ideas?


Are your hand-drawn or digital diagrams detailed and legible?


Does your flight manual address the needs of astronauts in the year 2041?


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

Best of Key Stage 2: The MLR (Mars Landing Rocket) by Shrikar

We loved this professionally presented document that made use of great 3D models and hand drawn diagrams. Shrikar suggested some interesting experiments involving microorganisms and demonstrated scientific consideration throughout, from the importance of endorphins on mental health to the hazards of solar radiation.

Best of Key Stage 3: Axolotl Rocket Ship by Sean, Oscar and Praytush

This flight manual thoroughly covered all parts of the specification. Sean, Oscar and Praytush provided a detailed overview of all parts of the spacecraft interior from cockpit to hydroponics room. The experiments were particularly novel, looking at biomedical 3D printing and earthquake detection on Mars; the method for each was described very clearly.

Best of Key Stage 4: The Aion by Raphael, Lev, Achint and Yesung

We were impressed by the range of aspects considered in this flight manual. Raphael, Lev, Achint and Yesung used floorplans to show astronauts the location of facilities on their spacecraft, with eight separate modules serving different purposes. There was excellent consideration of backup resources, and the use of shifts amongst crew members was an interesting proposition.

Best of Key Stage 5: Ares by Vibha and Sri

This flight manual was well supported by scientific principles and further reading, and we were pleased to see that numerical quantities were justified using physical equations. Vibha and Sri raised some innovative solutions for coping with isolation, such as using machine learning to create a ‘personality’ the crew could interact with

The Science Award: Genesis I by Medushan

This flight manual was underpinned by real scientific principles throughout. Medushan referenced physical phenomena in lots of areas, including fuel used in the propulsion system, osmosis used in the water reclaimer, and dietary modifications for the astronauts to mitigate against radiation exposure. We liked the use of references, which showed the piece was based on legitimate ideas.

The Innovation Award: Fregata, Gorgon and Ares by Cal

In this flight manual, Cal provided an in-depth analysis of the propulsion system of the spacecraft and suggested novel rocket arrangements. We were impressed that the flight manual showed awareness of both the science and politics of using nuclear pulse engines as an energy source.

The Illustration Award: Explorer Vessel (EV) Cyclops by Dylan

This flight manual was supported by impressive illustrations of the spacecraft from a range of different elevations. Dylan also used labelling and annotations throughout to bring the diagrams to life, explaining the purposes of all the components on the vehicle.

The Concept Award: Caelum IV by Sim

We loved that this was formatted like a real flight manual, addressed to astronauts on the mission and written in a style that made it easy to navigate and understand. Sim also set the scenario in 2041 by extrapolating from current technology to include biochemical devices that don’t exist now but could exist in two decades’ time.

Gold Awards

Mars Mission Shuttle by Nitya and Shamrutha Oblivion by Byron and Lyra Mission Scarlet by Devaansh
The Optimum by Mokshitha, Kavya and Kabisha The Centurion Spacecraft by Aston and Aditya Peregrine by Eloise and Mae
The Beetle by Amogh and Srithan The Romulus V by Akshaj and Ewan Mavors by Sophie, Olga, Anna and Ruby
Syrtis, Syrtis jr.1, Syrtis 2.0 and 2.1 by Srij, Daniel, Abhishek and Rohan Dracophoneus by Nysa, Riona and Vaishu Eclipse by Anubhav, Heemy and Arya

Silver Awards

Martian Alliance by Yathra Altair Martian Gateway by Hanan and Thurayya SS Conquest by Ishtarth, Anirudh, Abhay and Sachit
Meili I by Betrys and Ellie RedX by Navaneeth BigRPE13(big red planet explorer 13) by Ellie and George
NMSC by Vignesh and REDRAVEN by Pranav and Pranit Triskelion by Vaibhav and Pranav
PROXIMA II by Vaibhav, Siddharth and Harsha To Infinite and one and beyond by Yong Volatus by Ashwin
Olympus Orbit 34 by Casey and Kaylynn Aquila 20 by Millie SkyTreck by Dennis
Martian Marauder I by Arpan and Kaustubh The battalion by Aryan, Vid, Keshauv and Ishan ARES I by Keir and Luke
Pioneer III by Theo, Bella, Dora and Kiki The Cruiser by Aarush and Haradhat The Falcon by Aveline, Martha, Isobel and Kirsten
Apollo Mars Guppies by Sophie and Tara The Skelter by Gael

Bronze Awards

Spatium Rimor 1 by Ved, Ojas and Keon The "Columbia Hills Spacecraft" by Matilda, Millie and Ellora Shuttle X by Zico
PEN-R by Koustuv and Krishn Marsician by Srimoyi The Centurion by Isabelle
Enterprise by Finn and Eralb Adventurer by Emily The Mars Luxury by Olivia, Ellen, Vithika and Mollie
spatium navis by Kieran and Henri Orion 126 by Rebecca, Lily and Isabelle Mars Shuttle by Josiah
Paragon by William, Maximillian and Prashant The Amarzing Discovery by Hayley The Aquila by Thomas
Flight Manual by Poppy Moon regon by Olivia the extravegant spaceship by Zack
The Launcher by Oliver Roddie1135 by Maddison the alligator by Romanos
The WAJPR by Jonathan orion by Skye and Amelle Mars Ship XV.1 by Irfan