SPB takes the Mission Madness Trophy

Congratulations to the 2009 Mission Madness winner – Superpressure Balloon.  The Balloon Program Office is based out of Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia.  They did a great job of rallying their fan base to dominate the competition. Mars Rovers, Mars Odyssey, Expedition 1, Orion, New Horizons, and SOHO all fell victim to the mouse clicking of the SPB troops.  I thought Orion had a shot to deflate SPB in the quarterfinals but they stopped voting on the second day around 6:45 PM. Then when New Horizons took a 2,500 vote lead going into day 2 of the semifinal round I thought for sure SPB was done.  Not so fast my friends.  SPB did one thing that none of the other mission voters were able to do and that is play each round for the full 39 hours.

Thank you to all who participated in the tournament, commented on the blog, and provided feedback on our social networking sites – Facebook and Twitter.   We will compile all your suggestions and use them for next year’s competition.  Here’s the breakdown of the votes count by round.
Round 1:          128,898
Round 2:          122,558
Round 3:          125,843
Quarterfinals:   156,594
Semifinals:       130,135
Finals:                78,417
Total Vote Count:  742,445
Is SPB the greatest NASA mission of all time?  In my opinion – absolutely not, but there are a ton of people who now know about the Superpressure Balloon.  In fact (and be honest), how many missions in the field of 64 did you learn about?  How many didn’t have a clue about some of the missions?  Some of the objectives of the madness:
1. Allow the public and internal NASA to learn about 64 different missions.  We tend to focus on one mission at a time.
2. Provide a fun and exciting way for the public to learn more about NASA in general.
3. Receive feedback from the public to see what types of missions they are interested in.
There are a few lessons learned from this experience and I am sure next year’s competition will be even better.  We’ll have a new field of 64 with great missions that didn’t get included this year.  So start lobbying for your mission today so that they may have the chance to do what SPB did….shock the world.  
And don’t forget to keep watching NASA EDGE (https://www.nasa.gov/nasaedge), an inside and outside look at all things NASA.  On tap down the road:
2.  Orion simulators
3.  STS-125 Launch
4.  Launch Abort System
5.  Apollo 40th Anniversary Vodcast
6.  Desert Rats
7.  Arex I-X flight test
8.  Pad Abort-1 test
9.  Superpressure Balloon????
All the best,

14 thoughts on “SPB takes the Mission Madness Trophy”

  1. Thanks NASA Edge for the opportunity to help get the word out about some of NASA’s lesser known missions. In the eyes of many, I think NASA is seen (unfortunately and wrongfully so) as a worn out, unnecessary, and wasteful part of government. I think that it is important for NASA to showcase some of its variety and importance in a positive way, and I think this exercise did just that. NASA is not just about about going to the Moon and Mars, it is a multi-faceted agency that has real value for everyone.

  2. The NASA Balloon Program is based at Wallops Island, but it should be known that the balloon program has far reaching influences. Some of these are at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, TX, Aerostar International in Sulphur Springs, TX, and the Physical Sciences Laboratory at the New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM. Also, with balloon launched regularly around the world in Fort Sumner, NM, Kiruna, Sweden, Alice Springs, Australia, and McMurdo Station Antarctica, the Balloon Program has fans all around the world. It has also flown experiments for hundreds of universities including LSU, University of Maryland, and the University of Hawaii just to name a few.

    People from all of these places have supported SPB in this tournament, and it is this combined effort that has allowed SPB to prevail.

  3. I will be excited to see this competition take place again next year (with lessons learned and hopefully new rules implemented).

    Keep up the good work with NASA Edge! Why aren’t you guys shown on NASA TV? You guys are the best NASA program around.

  4. Here’s a suggestion on how to implement ONE PERSON – ONE VOTE for next year’s Mission Madness:
    Do it the way the Obama Administration did it on its change.gov website for its Citizen Briefing Book. The Citizen Briefing Book was a website (similar to Digg.com and Reddit.com)that allowed people to present ideas for the new president to see and then allow other people to vote up or down the idea. The top ideas would rise to the top and make it into a briefing for the president. How did they implement a one vote-one person strategy? Registration. If you wanted to vote you had to register, which meant people could only vote once. Sure there are ways around that by using multiple email accounts, but it sure makes it hard for someone to vote hundreds of times for something.

    In fact, you guys should implement this type of voting all the time. Let people decide what aspect of NASA NASA Edge should make a podcast on.

  5. Oh, no. Not HIM again, I thought he’d signed off?

    OK, call this a PPS:
    The total number of votes cast

    Quarterfinals: 156,594
    Semifinals: 130,135
    Finals: 78,417

    This shows clearly that fewer people bothered to join in the great “click-a-thon” that the later rounds became. Therefore: As the competition progressed, fewer people were interested in the outcome.

    Thanks, NASA EDGE for a great idea. I did enjoy the fun factor of voting in the early rounds. I did vote repeatedly – sometimes for upto an hour! Did any of my predictions win? NOPE. Am I sore about this? Not unduly, because… (and all together now) IT IS A GAME!!!!

    With apologies to my wife, I will be back next year.

  6. This was a great way to get my kids involved in the missions! Can’t wait till next year’s Mission Madness. I will be talking it up so more teachers will be ready!

  7. Great contest. My suggestions for next year is not to call it the greatest mission of all time; but instead just hold a bracket event with no label attached. What really upset a lot of people is SPB being labeled the greatest mission. Leave the voting as is. I fail to see what is unfair about multiple votes when all missions are playing by the same rules. By making it one person-one vote gives a clear advantage to large missions and well publicized missions. The small missions, like SPB, can’t begin to compete with one vote per person. The multiple votes was fair to all and should have given the advantage to larger mission. SPB made it a competition and not a popularity contest.

  8. Contest became a bust when people answered with an agenda rather than the altruistic truthful answer and only once. I know it was a game but it simply became distorted and not true to the intent. It was a real challenge to compare the significance of Apollo 11 vs the Hubble
    which should have happened but some jokers voted the LRO more important than the Hubble, now that’s a joke. Of course fewer people continued with the contest after it was clearly corrupted. This was a wonderful idea which high-lighted a number of minor missions which may not have gotten the coverage but were worthy of consideration.
    Nice try but NO to the balloon.

  9. #9
    I agree, single voting doesn’t make the contest more fair in any way. If this is the voting policy for next year, surely the larger and more publicized missions will win whether they are more deserving or not. I think multiple voting should be allowed, even if the procedure is tweaked somewhat.
    NASA EDGE thanks for a fun contest!

  10. “Can you give us more details regarding this? A little historical perspective will be appreciated.”

    Note – We can’t use external links due to NASA rules and regulations.


    The Co-Host

  11. Archie,

    I am not sure what you mean by historical perspective. This past March was our very first Mission Madness competition and as such doesn’t have a lot of history. SPB, the tournament winner, has some history. You can find out about their history here:


    Also, we will be revisiting the tournament in some form in March 2010. I hope you check it out.

    All the best,

    The Co-Host

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