NASA is going where no space agency has gone before — the Etsy online crafts market — with a design contest to celebrate the space shuttle era.
Etsy is an e-commerce website specializing in handcrafted goods that blend quality and quirkiness, an "eBay for the artisan crowd," as my colleague Helen A.S. Popkin described it. There are already quite a few space-themed products for sale, ranging from a $5 patterns for a crocheted space shuttle to a $2,000 galaxy quilt. The NASA-backed contest may well add to the selection.
NASA is hoping the contest will spark some spacey ideas from Etsy's 5.5 million members, 96 percent of whom are women, with the majority under 35 years old. Word of the contest has already sparked more than 100 responses to Etsy's call for entries.
"The contest reaches an important audience NASA would like to better engage to help share the excitement that is America's space program," Doug Comstock, NASA's director of partnerships, innovation and commercial space, said today in a space agency announcement. "These craftspeople will bring new perspectives that can help communicate NASA's mission and inspire our next generation of explorers in new ways."
Entrants can submit two-dimensional original art, including paintings and collages as well as computer graphics and photographic prints ... or they can submit three-dimensional creations, including wearable art and soft sculptures. The creation should be inspired by NASA and NASA's programs, such as the space shuttle and human spaceflight, aeronautics or space science and exploration.
The galaxy M64, also known as the Black Eye Galaxy, is immortalized in a quilt for sale on the Etsy craft website.
The grand-prize winner $500 in credit for an Etsy shopping spree, plus an all-expenses-paid trip to Florida to attend the launch of the shuttle Endeavour next February as a VIP. Three best-in-category winners will receive $250 plus goodies from Etsy and NASA.
Printed designs, artwork or photos may be eligible to fly on the space shuttle. But the deadline is coming up quick: By Nov. 2, the creation has to be listed in an online Etsy craft shop. Entrants have to be legal U.S. residents aged 18 or older. The entries will be voted on by visitors to the Etsy website. A panel of crafters and designers will narrow down the field and pick the winners. Winning entries will be selected on Feb. 1.
Check the Etsy "Space Craft Contest" Web page for the official details and answers to frequently asked questions. And may the creative force be with you.
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