Convergent Aeronautics Solutions | NASA


Future-Scaping Our Skies

Mapping societal, economic, technological, environmental, political, and regulatory trends to the future of aviation.
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Challenge Overview

Future-Scaping Our Skies


Help us build a better understanding of the future of aviation - mapping its relationship with societal, economic, technological, environmental, political, and regulatory trends. 

We welcome diverse perspectives - aviation and non-aviation - to participate in this important effort.  The future of aviation is best envisioned through the combined perspectives from diverse fields – including but not limited to some of the following fields:  government, academia, art & film, economics, engineering, gaming, innovation, mathematics, municipalities, policy, strategy & vision, subject matter experts involved in emerging trends, technology, tourism and more.

This challenge seeks to catalyze a set of perspectives, forecasts, timelines, and storylines that contribute to a better understanding of the future of aviation.



The Problem

Make a difference today by helping us think ahead – the future of aviation is everyone’s reward!

The “Future-Scaping Our Skies” Challenge aims to understand how societal, technological, environmental, economic, regulatory, and political changes over the next 30 years could impact aviation and vice versa.  

In a world increasingly defined by change and connectivity, we seek a better way to anticipate what the future may hold to support better decisions today.  We’re inviting all innovators, futurists, and pragmatists to help us build a better understanding of possible future state scenarios and needs associated with these scenarios. 

To register for the challenge, click the “BEGIN ENTRY” button above.  The Challenge Forum is your space to share thoughts and ideas with the challenge community or to create teams. 



  • A dynamic and evolving world presents both risks and opportunities for aviation.  We seek to inform long-term scenario planning (what-if planning) that could help us reduce uncertainty and improve decisions regarding research and technology, improving outcomes for all.
  • While aviation influences and is influenced by factors like (but not limited to) economic, environmental, legal, technological, social, and political, large-scale change typically flows through each of these factors at a very different pace. For instance, there is a lag between technological change and the corresponding regulatory change.
  • Traditional aviation supply chain models and research partners are steeped in aviation knowledge.  We are seeking to augment this knowledge with input that spans every sector of expertise and embraces the innovation and agility of entrepreneurs.


The Challenge Breakthrough

  • This effort will continue to strengthen NASA’s ability to anticipate and deliver against the long-term needs of society served by aviation.
  • We achieve this together by refining our insights, assumptions, long-term scenario planning. This improves our ability to plan research and development, reduce uncertainty, and improve decisions and outcomes.


What You Can Do to Cause a Breakthrough

  • Click BEGIN ENTRY above to register.
  • Read the Challenge Guidelines to understand the rules and requirements.
  • Help us build detailed future state scenarios for aviation:  describe the economic, environmental, legal, technological, social, political factors that will contribute to these scenarios and associated aviation technology needs within the next 30 years.
  • Share this challenge on social media using the icons above. Show the challenge to your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.
  • Start a conversation in our Forum; join the conversation; ask questions or connect with other innovators.
  • Please make sure to check the eligibility requirements and to review and sign the legal agreement.
  • Submissions are open only to U.S. persons and organizations.

Challenge Guidelines

Challenge Breakthrough 

Help us build a better understanding of the future so we may take better action today. Share your predictions for the ways that key trends in technology, our society and business may impact long term needs for aviation. 



NASA is seeking to collect a range of diverse responses to analyze the following items through the lens of a 30-year horizon: 

  • Future scenarios in which aviation will play a major role.
  • Future scenarios that may have a significant positive or negative impact on aviation.
  • Global and societal trends that will impact the relationship between aviation and society.
  • Significant emerging trends in technology, society, population, regulation, the environment, and the economy that will have an impact on – or that could be impacted by – aviation in the next 30 years.
  • Any technological needs or dependencies associated with the scenarios and trends.


Prize Structure

Grand prize - $7,500

Second - $5,000

Third - $2,500

Fourth - $2,500

Fifth - $1,000

Sixth - $1,000

Seventh - $500

Eighth - $500

Ninth - $500



Open to submissions - Friday, April 2, 2021

Submission deadline - Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Judging - June & July 2021

Confirmation of winners  - Wednesday, July 28, 2021


How do I win:

To be eligible for an award, your submission must, at minimum:

  • Satisfy the Judging Scorecard requirements.
  • Thoughtfully address the Submission Form questions.
  • Be scored higher than other submissions.

Submissions must, at a minimum:

  • Select at least one of the sample scenarios provided or create one of your own (must be related to aviation).
  • Tell us why you believe this scenario is significant, providing an overview of the ways in which the scenario you selected impacts, and is impacted by, aviation.
  • Build a ‘scenario prediction’ timeline and storyline of at least 30 years.
  • Describe the key events, trends, dependencies, and risks contributing to, and resulting from, the attainment of the scenario.
  • Describe what you believe would be the significant factors or trends in technology, society, population, regulation, the environment, and the economy that would have an impact on – or that could be impacted by – the scenario within the next 30 years.
  • Include graphics, illustrations, and links to videos where appropriate to support your description of the events depicted in your scenario prediction storyline and timeline.
  • Include links to reference articles, white papers, or data sources that you’ve used to build your scenario prediction storyline and timeline.
  • Please note - submissions are open only to U.S. persons and organizations.

Sample Scenarios


In this challenge, we’re requesting your help with a forecasting effort - to build timelines and storylines that outline key trends and events that you believe might unfold over the next 30 years. 


Specifically, we’re looking forward to your scenario plans for potential future states.  Your estimates for timelines, key event horizons, dependencies and likely obstacles and enablers that could lead to each of these potential future states.  Wherever possible and appropriate – we welcome the inclusion of data sources, references, and multi-media illustration of your timeline concepts.   


To participate and prepare your submission, please create a 30-year timeline and story line that depicts the key defining trends, events, and factors that will lead to this future state scenario, and provide any details bring your submission to life.  Through your timeline and story line, describe what journey and end state of this scenario look like to you - and what environmental, technical, political, technologies, societal, regulatory, and economic factors or trends will lead to this future state scenario.


For those who prefer to select from a pre-established list of potential future state scenarios – we have developed the below based on scholarly research and extensive interviews with economists, technologists, academics, innovators, futurists and more.  Each of these potential future state scenarios suggest high level description of what the world might look like in 30 years. 


Scenario 1 | Create Your Own Future State Scenario:  You may have a very distinct vision for what society and aviation might look like in 30 years.  Please apply the scenario building framework provided in the guidance above and share your forecast regarding how that future state might unfold.


Scenario 2 | Safety:  In 30 years, the cost of ensuring safety, traceability, and compliance (Certification -regulatory qualification for use) of new products and services in aviation is significantly reduced. 


Scenario 3 | Innovation: In 30 years, resilience and elasticity in aviation allows society, producers, and innovators to enjoy the benefits of aviation without significant disruption.  Additional points to consider if you choose to map this scenario:  What is society like? What is there more of, and what is there less of that contributes to this result?  


Scenario 4 | Data:  In 30 years, data usage enables a broad array of new products, services, and experiences for aviation while addressing privacy and usage intent considerations. How do we view data? What are the stakeholders involved in data ownership definitions, governance, usage, standards, and valuation? 


Scenario 5 | Intellectual Property:  In 30 years, intellectual property (“IP”) usage enables a broad array of new products, services, and experiences for aviation while addressing ownership and usage intent considerations. Additional points to consider if you choose to map this scenario:  How do we view IP? What are the stakeholders involved in IP ownership definitions, governance, usage, standards, and valuation? 


Scenario 6 | Speed: In 30 years, the speed of aviation is not just about how fast the airplane flies.  Aviation is experiencing minimal inefficiencies.  Additional points to consider if you choose to map this scenario:  What is society like? What would you expect to see less of and what would you expect to see more of? 


Scenario 7 | Orchestration:  Old business models, partnerships and ways of work have been radically disrupted by platform-enabled collaborations and interdisciplinary innovation.  This has enabled entirely new ecosystems, operational concepts, and intellectual property structures.  Ideas are created within an orchestrated symphony of technologists, thought leaders, companies, and organizations from both aviation and non-aviation sectors in research and goal setting. Additional points to consider if you choose to map this scenario:  What does this outcome look like in 30 years?  What evolution of regulations, workflows, key factors, behaviors, and interdependencies are most likely to drive this outcome? 


Scenario 8 | Trust: Aviation deployment of new technologies and practices now hinges on societal trust, privacy, and perceptions of equity.  Additional points to consider if you choose to map this scenario:  In 30 years, does trust of advances in technology and science support or detract from the certification, implementation, and adoption of new technologies? 


Scenario 9 | Technology: In this scenario 30 years out, we propel ourselves in a radically different way.  Additional points to consider if you choose to map this scenario:  As a technologist - what technologies or science developments are you aware of that you believe will advance over the next 30 years and will affect the way transportation is actuated.  For your submission, describe what this technology or science is, how it unfolds in the next 30 years and how it is used. 


Scenario 10 | Autonomy: In 30 years, aviation is fully autonomous – including passenger and cargo flights, long and short trip, and ground operations.  Additional points to consider if you choose to map this scenario:  What technologies or societal developments are you aware of that you believe will advance over the next 30 years and will affect the way autonomous transportation is actuated and adopted.  For your submission, describe what this technology, how it unfolds, and how passenger trust evolves in the next 30 years to make this scenario possible and likely. 


Scenario 11 | Sustainability: In 30 years, the aviation has achieved net-zero emissions from both operations and supply chain, balancing sector goals between environment, operations, and economics.  Planned reuse of all components is designed into the product lifecycle. 


Scenario 12 | Simplicity: In 30 years, society’s needs are served by different aviation capabilities and modalities.  This future state has achieved a highly automated, technology-enabled, efficient infrastructure - and yet maintains a high degree of personalized experience for travelers and customizable  delivery options for regional operators. 


Scenario 13 | Accessibility: In 30 years, society’s needs are highly diversified and distributed.  Urban areas are less concentrated, the evolving nature of work and automation has driven a need for skills evolution and a shift in workforce populations, and the proliferation of technology and digitally enabled opportunities have aligned with the availability of connectivity. 


Judging Criteria

Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of at least four (4) judges comprised of NASA employees with expertise in the fields of Aeronautics / Aviation, and three (3) Shoshin Works representatives with expertise in the fields of Strategic Planning and Aviation / Space. Submissions will be evaluated based on compliance with Entry Guidelines and Requirements, as specified herein, as well as, but not limited to, the following criteria (collectively the “Judging Criteria”). Judging will occur during June and July 2021. Up to nine (9) of the submissions that best meet the Judging Criteria may be selected as winners. 



Overall Weight

ClarityAbility to explain the scenario storyline and timeline in a clear and concise manner.


Substantiation of the scenario prediction storyline and timeline.

Ability to support scenario prediction storyline and timeline with data, references, or citations.

If the ideas are entirely novel, provide a clear and compelling argument for the ideas.


Visual synthesisAbility to enhance clarity or cohesion of the scenario predictive storyline and timeline by synthesizing critical timelines, events, or supporting data in embedded or multi-media visual elements.




Participation Eligibility:

Submissions are open only to U.S. persons and organizations. 

The Prize is open to anyone age 18 or older participating as an individual or as a team. 

Individual competitors and teams may originate from the United States, as long as United States federal sanctions do not prohibit participation (see: 

If you are a NASA employee, a Government contractor, or employed by a Government Contractor, your participation in this challenge may be restricted.

To be eligible to compete, you must comply with all the terms of the challenge as defined in the Challenge-Specific Agreement.

Intellectual Property

Participants who are awarded a prize for their submission retain ownership of all Intellectual Property demonstrated by the winning/awarded submissions. See the Challenge-Specific Agreement for complete details.

Registration and Submissions:

Submissions must be made online (only), via upload to the website, on or before June 1, 2021, at 5:00 pm ET. No late submissions will be accepted.

Selection of Winners:

Based on the winning criteria, prizes will be awarded per the weighted Judging Criteria section above.

Judging Panel:

The determination of the winners will be made by Shoshin Works based on the evaluation by relevant NASA and Shoshin Works specialists.

Additional Information


  • By participating in the challenge, each participant agrees to submit only their original idea. Any indication of "copying" amongst participants is grounds for disqualification.
  • All submissions will go through a process of due diligence; any submission found to be misrepresentative, plagiarized, or indicative of sharing an idea that is not their own will be automatically disqualified.
  • All ineligible participants will be automatically removed from the competition with no recourse or reimbursement.
  • No purchase or payment of any kind is necessary to enter or win the competition.
  • Void wherever restricted or prohibited by law.
Updates 4

Challenge Updates

Have questions? We have answers!

May 5, 2021, 3 p.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

Join Keith Wichman and Vikram Shyam from Convergent Aeronautic Solutions at NASA for a live webinar where you will have an opportunity to ask your questions LIVE! You won't want to miss this opportunity to get the inside scoop on the Future-Scaping Our Skies Challenge!

Time: May 11, 2021, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Pacific Time (Los Angeles)

Make sure you sign up early to reserve your spot!


Click Here To Register

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

April 29, 2021, 9 a.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

Have you thought about forming a team to compete in the Future-Scaping Our Skies Challenge?

Teams can be formed directly on the challenge page by connecting in the forum.

Some of the advantages of forming a team include:

1. Accountability

Those deadlines are less likely to get away from you when you’re working with a group.

2. Shared workload

You know the old “divide and conquer?”  It works well for challenges! By finding a solid collaborative stride, a group of just three people can churn out a lot more than one person working alone.

3. Camaraderie

It might be hard for other people to relate to your lone wolf journey toward incentive competition conquest, but your team will be right there with you! A source of inspiration, motivation, and perhaps even fire-under-your-butt lighting, teammates can provide a huge emotional advantage. Just think - new internet friends!

4. Specialization

Maybe you’re a real visionary with an incredible concept, but are stuck on how the “nuts and bolts” fit together? Yeah, YOU need a team. Teammates who have the skills and special working knowledge can be a huge resource. And the benefits go both ways!


Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your team will take some time to come together, so be sure to get ahead of it and start recruiting, reaching out, and networking about the challenge now. The forum is a great place to start. Also, feel free to browse the entire HeroX Community by specialization by checking out 

All About the Forum

April 15, 2021, 9 a.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

Maybe you've had some questions, thoughts, or ideas about the challenge so far -- but you're still wondering where to take them? In fact, there's a quick, easy-to-use way to ask questions and start conversations about the Future-Scaping Our Skies Challenge: the challenge forum.  

Interested? Simply go to the forum to see what people are already saying. If you'd like to start a new conversation, click "New topic" (pictured below) and begin crafting your message. 

This is a great way to start connecting with other community members around different aspects of the challenge, gain insights, and even collaborate! Keep in mind that HeroX regularly checks in on the forum, so it's also a great way to get in touch with us about any questions (or suggestions) you might have. 

Hope you found this helpful! 

Best of luck, and have a great weekend.

Welcome to the Community!

April 8, 2021, 9 a.m. PDT by Shane Jenkins

Welcome to the Future-Scaping Our Skies Challenge! This challenge is now officially open for submissions. 

To get started, head back to the challenge page, which contains all of the information you need to participate. Once there, click SOLVE THIS CHALLENGE. Once you accept the legal agreement, you will officially be signed up as a competitor!

If you're feeling stuck, the forum is a great resource to collaborate with others and get answers to your specific questions.

Good luck!

Forum 4
Teams 410