Astronauts to Use Haverhill High Robot Software in Space Competition

In the microgravity of space, astronauts work with robotic satellites.

zero_robotics_logoAstronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) will use robotics software, developed by students at Haverhill High School, in a January competition.

The Haverhill High School Robotics team became eligible after placing third in a worldwide competition to develop software to control the speed, rotation and direction of travel of robot satellites. Students will travel to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to watch the live competition Jan. 18. The satellites are known as SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites).

“This is a very exciting opportunity for us. The Haverhill Robotics team began with zero knowledge of competing in Zero Robotics and have come very far. This has been completely student led, strategized and coded,” said Haverhill High School Principal Beth Kitsos.

MIT pitted Haverhill students’ code in a simulated competition against 27 other international alliance teams. MIT Space Systems Laboratory and astronaut Greg Chamitoff created Zero Robotics in 2009 with the goal of opening research on the International Space Station to large groups of secondary school students. The competition allows students to help solve problems in space identified by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA and MIT. The competition’s goal is to build critical engineering skills for students, such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, and team work, according to tournament officials.

Students directly involved in the competition are Louis Oller, Zyon Bessette, Jayden Ireland, Victor Yuska, Alex Dickopf, Felicia Bonvie, Orion Rodriguez, Chris Leung, Sasha Severino and Isabella Callahan. Other team members are Jordan Bessette, Vignesh Pillai, Andrew Collett, Connor Judge, Jonathan Cunha, Olivia Bene, Adam Maagoul, Anupa Saini, Emily Kelley, Alexander Papanikolaou, Jeffrey Therriault, Jared Leavitt, Declan Dean, Timothy O’Niel, Andrew Gariepy, Jackson McLaughlin, Robert Russell, Molly McCracken and Zach Kaczor. The faculty advisor is Clifford Ashbrook, who received assistance from Jason Hrubes and Matt Scanlon.