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Registration Deadline: 6th November


The Satellite Design Competition invites students to design, construct and operate a nanosatellite payload system with the objective to acquire as much information from an analogue lunar nanosatellite mission. Students shall create a payload concept, trade off performance parameters and pass through a rigorous review process with panels of experts within the space industry. The competition aims to reach out to students from multiple scientific fields, including, but not limited to, physicists, engineers and computer scientists.

The competition aims to:

  • Challenge students to perform a complex, systems engineering task of the development of a payload to a set of real space mission requirements.
  • Gain exposure and experience of the typical design processes and protocols in industry projects, including multiple project reviews.
  • Enable students to apply taught technical skills and learn new ones relevant to a job in the space industry in an applicable project environment.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to develop and practice other important and transferable skills, such as teamwork, leadership and project management.

This year marks the fourth instalment of the Satellite Design Competition. During the first 2 years, competing teams researched and designed a space mission utilising cubesats for astronomy, where an extensive final report was submitted. Last year, the competition was expanded to include a build phase, where competing teams had the opportunity to design and construct a nanosatellite payload. The heritage of the competition was kept, where the extensive report was separated out into multiple, smaller reports that can be expected in industry space mission design: a Preliminary Design Report, a Critical Design Report and a Test Readiness Review. Teams were to be scored over a series of tasks on a competition challenge day finale.

Rules and Resources »

Rules and requirements documents, data sheets, template documents.

Organisers »

Find out more about the people behind the Satellite Design Competition.

Last Year »

All about last year's competition (including the competition day livestream).

FAQs »

A collection of Frequently Asked Questions.

Competition Format

COVID-19 Changes

Due to the extreme circumstances of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the competition is restructured to accommodate the fact that students no longer have access to their university equipment and laboratories. As a result, the build and test phase of the competition is replaced with an extended design report on a real Lunar cubesat mission, using teams’ CDR report as a baseline.

However, the teams who are able to build a satellite in a COVID-safe environment are encouraged to do so provided they take the precautionary measures and follow government and university imposed regulations. These teams will be competing for the best prototype prize.

Teams are provided with a new mission outline and mission requirements, which can be viewed in further depth below.

Amended Mission Outline

The challenge is to research, design and build a payload system for an analogue Lunar 3U cubesat mission with the aim of detecting and analysing different sources of data signatures from a simulated Lunar environment. The winning team shall be decided inside a 'Mystery Room', where the contents and the locations of the sources will be purposely kept hidden from the competing teams. The competition is separated into two phases:

  1. The research & Design Phase; your team will work towards a critical Design Review, where you shall design your 3U cubesat payload system.
  2. Build & Test phase: your team shall physically build and test your payload system. Only the best 5 teams shall advance to the Build & Test Phase, which shall be evaluated through a preliminary Design Review and a Critical Design Review during the Research & Design Phase.

If you are interested in participating in this competition, please read the full contents of the Rules & Requirements 2020/21 document.

The competition is open to UKSEDS members and students from UK schools and universities.

If you have any futher questions, please email us at [email protected]

Key Dates

Competition Submission Deadline6th November 2020
Requirements Freeze6th November 2020
PDR Deadline19th December 2020
PDR Feedback26th January 2021
CDR Deadline21st March 2021
CDR Reviewer MeetingBy 25th April 2021
Grant Application Deadline (For teams that are building)27th May 2021
Extended Design Report (EDR) Deadline18th July 2021
Extended Design Report (EDR) Feedback1st August 2021
Competition Challenge Day21st August 2021