Space to Earth Challenge

Tri the distance…

Space to Earth Challenge is a triathlon-based, STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) linked programme of activities for school students from late primary to early secondary age. It followed British ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake as he trained before, during and after his Principia mission to the International Space Station. Devised by Venture Thinking, the Ideas Foundation and British Triathlon Trust, alongside a broader multidisciplinary education, tech and media team, for the UK Space Agency and ESA, the programme has included events, resources and activities that schools can run themselves.

The central design job is to join up the visual languages of space science and sport, to get students active through science and into science through sport.

It’s a complicated project that requires equal billing for its programme and the Principia mission and it includes fully-designed and user-modified elements. So it needs a visual identity that’s simple. My approach to event branding is to produce a design framework that’s functional, lively and flexible across a wide range of media, applications and situations while always appearing cohesive.

The research has been stellar: There’s been an Ideas Foundation led ideas hack getting young people, teachers, parents, scientists and media people together. I’ve heard from physiologists and engineers at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany and I’ve been to the Long Arm Centrifuge in Farnborough.

The core identity includes a logo that combines an orbit with the three phases of training and triathlon which can be deconstructed and reassembled in a variety of ways for event graphics and resources. Its colours are drawn from the Principia mission patch.

Its first applications were ‘register your interest’ material, templates for resources, display materials and web interface design. The second phase included event dressing and information for the project’s launch at the Royal Aeronautical Society and the first challenge events. I presented the background to the brand to young graphic design competition finalists at The Skills Show. On launch night, the team was at the Science Museum Principia late (with space hoppers) – and we’ve since had our own go at the challenge.

It’s a delight to see the programme continuing to thrive.

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Crew polo shirt graphics by CreativeHex