CHILDREN are being invited to join a space-age competition to design a deep-space habitation module for astronauts destined to explore Mars.
Defence firm Lockheed Martin has launched its Generation Beyond project for youngsters aged nine to 11.
The initiative is the first of its kind launched by the company, which is seeking pupils from across the Portsmouth area to sign up.
Children need to create a conceptual habitation module for future explorers of the Red Planet, before filming their entry and sending it in.
They can work as individuals or in teams to be in with a chance to win an iPad and a £5,000 cash grant for their school.
Paul Livingston, vice-president of Lockheed Martin’s UK integrated systems in Havant, hoped the scheme would inspire more young people to get involved in science, technology, engineering and maths.
He said: ‘Space is always inspiring and exciting for young people. But the really inspiring thing is that the kids of this generation are the people that could end up being on Mars and part of a colony there. The focus is about the habitation module. That’s where people will live and work while they are on a long space journey that could last 1,000 days.
‘The kids have got to think about all the aspects of what you need to do to survive in space.
‘During this maybe if someone comes up with a really good idea that we wouldn’t have thought of, we will absolutely look at that.’
The youngsters need to think how the astronauts will survive in the module on their lengthy voyage; how they will exercise and what equipment they will need to entertain themselves and relax.
‘This is all about getting kids to look at the kinds of problems that will be faced,’ added Paul.
‘It’s about inspiring them into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.’
Those keen to take part in UK Generation Beyond need to submit videos of their ideas before the closing date of December 15. Schools should visit generationbeyondinschool.co.uk/challenge to enter.