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Strings, Stars, and Space Stations: How to Send Your Code into the Cosmos

Send a personal message to the astronauts on the International Space Station with Astro Pi!

Erin Johnston
February 2, 2020

Who hasn’t dreamed of going to space? From traveling in a space shuttle, to experiencing anti-gravity, to exploring the endlessness of our solar system, there’s something about outer space that captivates kids and adults alike. It seems unbelievable that a whole universe exists outside of our own planet and even more unbelievable that a handful of people have actually left Earth to go explore it!

Now what if we told you that a message you coded could be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) and read by astronauts? We’re challenging all Canadian students aged 14 or younger to take part in Astro Pi - Mission Zero: a project where kids can write their own computer code to be run on the ISS!

Calling all aspiring astronauts

For the third year running, in partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the European Space Agency, Canadian students will have the opportunity to have their code sent to space! Any student can participate, even if it’s their first time coding. The project doesn’t require any hardware or advanced coding skills. In fact, it’s the perfect time for future astronauts to expand their digital skills. As Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques confirmed: astronauts need to know how to code.

Displayed on an Astro Pi, a Raspberry Pi with a special casing that lets it work in space, the messages sent by students will contribute to the astronauts’ daily routine. Anyone who takes part will receive a certificate stating the date, time, and location of the ISS at the time their code was run. So, the most important question is: what will you say to an astronaut to brighten their day?

Preparing for take-off

Just as an astronaut wouldn’t travel to space without the right training and preparation, there are a few important steps to take before participating in Astro Pi. Teachers and mentors can find everything they need to facilitate an Astro Pi session with their students or children on our website. Registering your account and familiarizing yourself with the program requirements and starter code in advance will help to ensure the mission’s success!

3, 2, 1...blast-off!

Every year, this international celebration of code and outer space unites all of us who have ever dreamed of jetting off in a rocketship and flying through the stars. It makes the ISS feel just a little bit closer and lets us play a part in an astronaut’s daily life. But, most of all, it shows kids that when they keep expanding on their coding, problem-solving, and teamwork skills, the results can really be out of this world!

Prepare your crew for takeoff: all Mission Zero entries must be submitted by March 20th, 2020! Check out our online resources, including an informational webinar, to ensure the mission goes smoothly. Be sure to share your experience on Twitter by tagging @kidscoding, #AstroPi, and #CodeInTheStars.

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