The 32 participants of the 2017 Caltech Space Challenge finally arrived to Caltech yesterday to start this epic competition.
They were welcome by the organizers, Ilana and Thibaud, in the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech (GALCIT). After gathering together for introductory remarks both team Explorer and Voyager spent two hours visiting different labs on the Caltech campus. They had the chance to visit the new Space Structure Laboratory lab run by Professor Sergio Pellegrino and then went to see the very first version of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) located here at Caltech. During the second hour the teams saw T5, a Hypervelocity Shock Tunnel operated by Professor Joanna Austin's group. Finally, the teams visited the Lucas Adaptive Wall Tunnel, a modular wind tunnel run by Professor Beverley McKeon, and used to test low-speed flows.
At 6pm the opening ceremony started in the Dabney Lounge at Caltech. Close to 60 people were in attendance. Participants of the Challenge, organizers, professors, and sponsors all gathered to kick off the week. Dr. Michael Watkins, the keynote speaker of the evening, gave an inspirational talk about JPL's achievement and vision for the future of space. The teams were officially welcomed to the Challenge by Balazs Honti, Airbus Liaison to A^3. Professor Beverley McKeon, the Associate Director of GALCIT and Professor Paul Dimotakis, advisor of the 2017 Caltech Space Challenge both spoke to welcome the participants to GALCIT and Caltech, and give a brief history of the Caltech Space Challenge.
At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, the teams were then brought to their respective work rooms where they set up their equipment and participated in a team building presentation by Nigel Angold. At 9:20pm, the Challenge began. Participants were given the Challenge Packet, the material prepared by the student leads to help team members understand the concept of Lunarport. They were also given a very detailed Resource Packet of additional materials and technical papers. Teams started to divide the tasks among themselves, organize their schedules, and brainstorm ideas as they began the first stage of this competition.