Astro Don Pettit said “the greatest limiting factor to ISS science is crewtime”. Team Flipside's T-10 app saves astronauts' time while also connecting Earth and Space. The idea is simple. Using ISS location and real-time weather data we alert astronauts when conditions are good to photograph selected locations. Astronauts can indicate they will look out of the window and users of the Earth app get notified. T-10 Earth alerts you to visible ISS passes over your location so you can wave back.

This project is solving the Spot the Station challenge.


The Idea

We wanted to create an app that could be used in space to save astronauts time. Since astronauts enjoy taking photographs, we came up with the idea of making this process easier and saving them time. We flipped the “Spot the Station” challenge on its head and T-10 was born.

The T-10 app allows astronauts to choose a location they wish to photograph, select whether they want a day/night photo, and set an alarm for that location. T-10 not only gives them a ten minute warning before they pass overhead, but also checks real-time weather data so as not to disturb them if the visibility is bad.

When the alarm sounds, the astronaut can decide whether to take a photograph or not. If they say “yes”, not only will they get a useful “countdown to location pass”, but a message will be sent to T-10 users on Earth in that location, telling them to smile for the camera!

T-10 on Earth

To promote a greater awareness that you can see the ISS from Earth without the need for a telescope, T-10 offers its Earth-based users a handy reminder system that alerts you to the next visible pass. Like the astronauts, people on Earth will get a notice a T-10 minutes before the pass, enabling them to grab their friends, their cameras and find a good spot to look up.

When people on Earth indicate that they will wave at the ISS when it goes over, the astronaut's countdown screen updates to show the number of people ready to wave.

T-10 Community

People will be encouraged to share information about upcoming ISS passes with the in-app auto tweet options, and can also add a photograph of their wave to the map of waves. Users who log-in to the app can have their waves plotted on a map and see where other people around the world have waved from. Global leaderboards will encourage people to keep waving and sharing their experience with others. They will also enable astronauts to see if lots of people are waving from a particular place and perhaps choose to photograph it for them.

T-10 App

We have built the astronaut app for iPad and the Earth side of the app is coded for iOS and Android and other platforms using Titanium Appcelerator.

The app uses publicly available information (Two-line Element Sets obtained from Celestrak, but initially data obtained through to locate the station and obtain information about the next passes of the station over a given location. Weather data is obtained from OpenWeatherMap, a global, open, crowd-sourced weather information service.

Both sources of information are then mashed together on the server side - written using only open-source technologies (Apache, Python and a number of open-source Python libraries) - to provide the app with all the necessary information for both astronauts and users on Earth.

An open API to the data used by the app will be provided and available at once it's nailed down, together with the relevant documentation - but you can check out the full server code yourself right now!

Check us out on GitHub to learn more about what technologies we use!

T-10 Future

The first version of the T-10 is here, but we've big plans for the future. For T-10 space we will integrate maps to the countdown screen to help guide the astronauts' lenses to the place they want to photograph. We will also look to enable alerts for iridium flares and interesting weather conditions. Future versions of the app will automatically take data from the ISSLive astronaut schedules to ensure they are not disturbed during other activities, and we may enable Mission Control to send photograph requests directly to the app.

T-10 Earth will feed photographs into our website at We will also include a compass-linked indicator to show where to look and may look to include augmented reality into future versions. To enhance the gamification element of the app we will introduce badges that people can collect for waving or uploading their photographs. 4Square integration enabling people to check in to a moving ISS wave target will also be considered.

Since we want to ignite people's passion for space, and bring them closer to the astronauts, we will work with the space agencies to arrange mission patches/signed lithographs for people who have waved at a certain mission the most.

The Team

The best things come in small packages – our close-knit team of four people consists of:

Kate Arkless Gray - @SpaceKate

Self-confessed space geek and future astronaut, Kate is a broadcast journalist and social media editor. She brings ideas, excitement and lion slippers to the team.

João Neves - @jpgneves

João is the server hacker. His skills in writing backend applications and tracking down valuable data and working out what to do with it are what power the T-10 app.

Ketan Majmudar - @Ketan

Ket makes things real. Taking ideas, data and design and mixing in his developer skills he built the apps that we present to you today.

Dario Lofish - @DarioLofish

Creative extraordinaire, Dario brings style, pizzaz and amazing design skills to the team. His extensive know-how on advertising, branding and digital media bring the app to life in a very unique way. He also keeps us smiling with references to monkeys.

The team

Project Information

License: MIT License
Source Code/Project URL:


Server Side Component -
Earth Companion Mobile App -
T-10 Website -
T-10 Twitter -