The Challenge | Do YOU Know When the Next Rocket Launch Is?

Create a tool to track international rocket launch information.

Test rocket, please ignore

The "Test rocket, please ignore" is an interactive model that will alert you when a rocket is launched.

An IoT enabled, stylish looking lamp... and more!

After that buzzword bingo, test-rocket-please-ignore is a lamp with a twist: it will signal when the next rocket launch is happening, so you can hop on your favourite streaming service in time to catch the liftoff! And yes, with our patented* stage detaching technology, you can even see the rocket stages actually detaching in your living room! Oh, and another thing: did we mention it has custom-designed sound effects?

*Not actually patented

What makes it tick?

The rocket is designed around an OrangePi Zero (Allwinner H2 CPU), using two servo motors for stage actuations and four NeoPixels providing the light show. The audio amplifiers and speakers are kindly provided by a Trust Computer speaker (special thanks gos to the Trust engineer that designed them so we could disassemble them non-destructively).

How does it work?

The system coordinates with three Python scripts managing the hardware and another coordinating the timing. Communication between them is achieved via the excellent ZeroMQ Library. The launch data API we used is, where one can even find stage separation events, something that we thought hwe had to figure out on our own.

The cherry on top

Since we didn't have much launches happening during the weekend, we had to find another source for our data. The answer was obvious: Kerbal Space Program. Using the KRPC mod, we managed to get a connection to the game and stream launch events and stage separation events.

This of course made testing more fun.

From idea to reality

We decided to split the team for tackle the various challenges the project offered:

  • Create a model of a rocket
  • Create a site for aggregating the data
  • Create all the sound and animation assets
  • Creating all circuitry necessary to pull this off



SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.