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Princess Margaret Secondary students accepted into NASA challenge

IMG_8636.JPGA team of students from Princess Margaret Secondary will be blasting off to Huntsville, Ala. next spring as part of the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC)

As one of only 72 teams selected from across the world, and the only one from Canada, the Surrey students will compete in the international space challenge.

Now in its 30th year, the HERC sees teams of students come together to design, develop, build and test human-powered rovers capable of managing terrain challenges while completing a variety of mission tasks. The idea is to simulate the kinds of challenges explorers may face on extraterrestrial terrains such as those found on Mars. The challenge is part of the

“We first came across this challenge last year but didn’t think about it again until this year when there were just two days left to enter,” said Grade 11 student Jeevan Sandhu, the team lead for the Princess Margaret Secondary entry.

After quickly pulling together a group of 9 other like-minded Grade 11 and 12 students, Sandhu said the team got to work on a concept and rover design, submitting their entry just hours before NASA’s submission deadline. 

Calling their rover ‘LEOcraft’ after the school’s lion mascot, the team will now spend the next few months refining plans, constructing and testing their design before heading to the NASA competition site in Alabama for April 2024.

According to sponsor teacher Jag Uppal, the HERC is a new challenge for students at Princess Margaret Secondary.

While students from Princess Margaret Secondary have taken part in NASA challenges in the past, with a 2019 team having won a colony design competition, Uppal said this year’s challenge is different in that it requires not only designing and building a workable rover, but one that needs to be powered by the students themselves.

“This competition will involve them using a variety of skills including engineering, technology, technical report writing and even business and social media,” he said.  “This is a very exciting opportunity for them and being able to represent Canada at an international competition is a really big honour.”

Uppal is also excited for students to explore opportunities in STEM and space exploration.

For Sandhu and his teammates, they see it as an opportunity to make a splash on the world stage and hopefully contribute to mankind’s progress to one day being able to safely navigate other planets.

“We all grew up being interested in space exploration and NASA, watching things like the SpaceX launches, and so we’re all so excited to be taking part in this challenge,” he said.

With costs for materials and transportation expected to be significant, team LEOcraft is currently seeking donations and sponsorships for their rover.

To learn more about the project and/or to find out how you can help the team, head to

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