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March 27, 2014

Johns Hopkins APL Hosts Baltimore/Washington D.C. Space Apps Challenge

Baltimore Washington Space Apps Challenge poster

Tech-savvy creative teams from across the Baltimore-Washington region will gather at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., on April 12–13 to take part in the International Space Apps Challenge — a global, two-day marathon of coding and design aimed at improving life on Earth and furthering space exploration.

Participants will use publicly released open data to create hardware, software, mobile applications, data visualizations and platform solutions. The Space Apps Challenge is a NASA incubator innovation program; the Baltimore/Washington event is sponsored by APL and Baltimore-based interactive agency Bolster Labs.

“APL has been the birthplace of many of the nation’s greatest ideas in space exploration technology, so it’s a great place to host the Baltimore/Washington Space Apps Challenge,” said Ann Darrin, managing executive of APL’s Space Sector. “We’re very excited to see the ideas and solutions that spring up during the event, and we know the high level of ingenuity and skill in this area should produce some impressive results.”

Led by NASA, space agencies and organizations across the globe will provide support and guidance for the competition. Last year, there were 9,000 participants worldwide, in 83 cities, which produced 770 solutions for 50 challenges. There are more than 40 new challenges for this year’s challenge, organized in five themes: Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics and Asteroids.

“The Space Apps Challenge is an excellent way for the public to address real-world challenges with the data that NASA provides,” said APL’s Nate Parsons, flight software engineer on NASA’s Solar Probe Plus mission, and co-organizer of the event. “We’re going to have plenty of space, power and connectivity available for teams to work, and access to APL scientists and engineers who are leaders in their fields.”

“The Challenge strives to bring together thinkers and doers to take on important problems,” said Ben Slavin, CEO of Bolster Labs. “Our goal in joining with NASA and APL to organize this event was to promote collaborative problem solving. Designers, artists, writers, thinkers, developers and makers — all are welcome and will add to the strength of the teams and their solutions.”

APL’s Kossiakoff Center will be open to participants at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 12, and close at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 13, a full 36 hours. Registration for the event is open until April 12. Local winners may be selected to move on to the global competition. The teams are open to anyone age 13 or over; those under age 18 must bring a parent or guardian. Spectators are welcome.

For visitor information about APL and to register for the event, visit

To learn more about the International Space Apps Challenge, visit

Media contact: Geoff Brown, 240-228-5618 or 443-778-5618,

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit