This weekend, 4 members of HullCSS and I headed over to the C4DI to take on the Space Apps Challenge, a two day Hackathon focused around building applications with a space theme. We had very little idea of what the event was or what we wanted to do heading into it. Nonetheless, bright eyed and bushy tailed, we fought over the 4 plug sockets for our 5 laptops.

The Challenge

Our first step was to filter through the list of challenges, removing any challenge that we lacked the skill set for, or we found no interest in. This left us with 10 remaining tasks for consideration. Each member then ranked their top 4 choices, and we quickly came to a winner. “Do YOU Know When the Next Rocket Launch Is?” was to become the theme of our project.

This left us in an interesting spot. Building information systems is something we all had some degree of experience in, but how do we present our data in an engaging and interactive way to our users? We toyed with the idea of web pages, flow charts, etc, but finally settled on the idea of using a 3D planet, with all of our launch locations marked, for the user to explore. We selected PlayCanvas as our tool of choice, as I’ve got some prior experience with it, it’s easily embedded on the web, and Adam was willing to learn some JavaScript.

Getting to work

With that, Dan, Alex and Nathaniel set to work on the .NET Core MVC side of the application, and Adam and I set to work on the PlayCanvas section.

By the end of the first day, we’d created something quite impressive. Our basic MVC site held the embedded PlayCanvas app, showing a fully interact-able globe, but no rockets yet. The basics of our embedded Calendar option were also present, but it wasn’t being populated with data. Dan & Alex had built tools to scrape launch data from the web, but we were yet to connect these up.

As we made our way into the second day, our morning scrum was held in the nearby Cafe Nibble. Following a hearty breakfast by all, we rolled into our tasks for the day, translating our latitude and longitude into positions on our 3D globe, connecting up and displaying our data sources, and finalizing graphics for our presentation.


3pm marked the beginning of Judging Time, with Rob Miles stepping up to replace one of the judges who was unable to attend. After a round of presentations from each team, many of which showcased fantastic and creative solutions to their given problems, the judges headed off to deliberate.

After what felt like an eternity, they returned to announce the People’s Choice winner, Team Starflower followed by the overall winner, Team HullCSS. We’re incredibly happy to be named the winners of the event, and we’re really proud of the solution we created.

More Info

Thanks goes to C4DI for hosting us at their office, providing Pizza and refreshments for the weekend.

We’re looking to host our solution live in the coming week, and I’ll pop a link here when that happens.

If you want to check out more about our solution, there’s some more screenshots and video over here.

Want to know more? Have more questions? Head over to the Contact page to get in touch!