Zero Robotics SPHERES ISS Challenge: High School Tournament 2012

Official Tournament Rules for ESA Participants


Participation of European teams is restricted to teams resident in member states of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The list of participating nations is:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom
Only teams from the listed countries will be approved for participation.


All members of European teams must attend an accredited high-school, Upper Secondary, or equivalent pre-college level program (example: grades 9-12 in the USA, approximately ages 16-18 years old) in an eligible ESA Member State. All student participants must be 25 years of age or younger. Each team must be between 5-20 students.

All teams must have a primary mentor who is associated with the school as a teacher, lecturer, or staff. The primary mentor will be responsible for supervisision and guidance of the team and to ensure the team has access to at least two computers with internet access (including access to Flash).

A school may have only one team. Multiple schools can join to form a single team as a "district".

Each participating ESA Member State will have a limit of 25 teams. Each nation has their own acceptance policy as follows:


The Zero Robotics High School Tournament consists of six main stages:

The contest begins with several simulation competitions held online at the Zero Robotics website that gradually increase in difficulty. Finalists from the online phase will proceed to the ISS, where an will astronaut conduct a live competition with the SPHERES satellites in microgravity! This final ISS event will be hosted at MIT (for USA finalists) and at a ESA or member state space facility within Europe (for ESA finalists) with special audio/video links, and all teams will be invited to attend.

Alliance formation for ESA teams: alliances are created by joining three teams into one large team that works together for the Semi-Finals and Finals. European teams will be required to form international alliances: at least one of the three teams must be from a country different than the other two.


The Zero Robotics High School Tournament 2012 (the “Tournament”) is run by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Space Systems Laboratory, 70 Vassar St., Cambridge, MA 02139 (“MIT”) and TopCoder, Inc., 95 Glastonbury Blvd., Glastonbury, CT 06033 ("TopCoder").  The Tournament is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA ("Sponsors"). The European Space Agency (ESA) coordinates European Participation in cooperation with European National Space Agencies or their designee; ESA sponsors technical support for the European participants and on-orbit operations.

The Tournament is open to teams of USA and European High School students who meet the application/eligibility criteria and are selected to participate. By participating in the Tournament, each participant agrees to abide by the Tournament rules and to abide by the decisions of the Tournament administrators.

By participating in the Tournament, each participant agrees that under no circumstances, including, but not limited to, negligence, shall TopCoder, MIT, or the Sponsors, or their respective officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents, successors, and assigns (the "Released Parties") be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, or consequential damages arising out participation in the Tournament, even if any or all of the Released Parties have been advised of the possibility of such damages.


NOTE: The dates listed here are preliminary and subject to change.  We do not anticipate a change of more than a few days to the kickoff and final submission deadlines.

The Tournament begins at 11:00:00 U.S. EDT on September 8, 2012. and ends at 23:59:59 U.S. EDT on December 14, 2012 ("Tournament Period"). Registration for European teams will remain open as per the posted schedule below. Participation constitutes Contestant's full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply.

Key dates:

Application Deadlines
ItalyJune 10 - separate application
All othersSeptember 28 Deadline extended!
Tournament Milestones
September 8 Kickoff webcast live from MIT
September-November Online simulation competitions
October 5 2D simulation competition deadline
October 12-14 2D ground demonstration
October 29 3D simulation competition
November 3 Alliance formation event
December 1 Alliance submission deadline
December 16 Final (ISS) submission deadline


Code and documentation submissions that are provided by participants to the web site (“Submissions”) will be shared publicly with all participants after the Tournament.  As a condition of participation, all participants and teams grant to TopCoder, MIT, and the Sponsors a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce and publish any and all Submissions and to permit TopCoder, MIT, the Sponsors, and other third parties (including without limitation participants’ teammates, and other teams) to copy, modify, prepare derivative works of, make and use their Submissions.