Registration for the 23/24 competition is now closed!

The Olympus Rover Trials (ORT) challenge student teams to design, construct and operate a rover for an analogue sample return mission to Mars. Students create a rover concept, trade off performance parameters and pass through a rigorous review process with a panel of engineers from the space sector. The competition aims to:

  • Challenge students to perform a complex systems engineering task of the development of a vehicle to a set of real space mission requirements;

  • 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;
  • Foster interest in the activities of the space sector, especially in space engineering and robotics.
If you have any questions or inquiries please contact [email protected]

Who can apply?

The competition is open to all UKSEDS members. If you are not already a member, sign up for free membership today. This includes students (Bachelors to PhD), and we also support graduate teams (as long as team members have graduated within the last 3 years). There is no entry fee associated with this competition.

How many team members can we have?

There is an upper team limit of 10 people, but there is no specified lower team limit.

Last years competition

Information about last years competition can be found by clicking below

Past Competitions


Airbus joined RAL Space in sponsoring the fifth installment of the Olympus Rover Trials. The competition challenges teams to design, build and test small rovers with the objective of navigating a ‘Martian’ surface. This year, the Martian theme evolved from a sample return mission to a new mission – assembling infrastructure on the surface of Mars.


Our fourth rover competition, in partnership with GMV and supported by Thales Alenia Space, RAL Space, and Oxford Space Systems, continued with the same theme as last year: Mars sample return. The competition challenged teams to design, build, and test small rovers with the objective of driving across a ‘Martian’ surface in RAL Space’s Mars Yard facility, to collect canister samples and return them to a lander.

Teams presented their designs at a virtual competition day. SUSF Phobos, from the University of Southampton, were the overall winners. They also picked up prizes for the best Mission Design report and the best Presentation, as well as sharing the best CDR award with Team Bath Roving from the University of Bath.


This was our third rover competition, in partnership with GMV and supported by Thales Alenia Space, RAL Space and Oxford Space Systems. It was rebranded from the Lunar Rover Competition to the Olympus Rover Trials, as we moved the setting from the Moon to Mars.

Team Bath Roving took first place in the competition with a design that made use of a servo-operated robotic arm to collect sample canisters. Additional prizes went to Cranfield University’s Team Furiosity, Imperial College’s Team Ares, and Southampton University Spaceflight.


15 teams entered this year’s Lunar Rover Competition, which was run in association with Thales  Alenia  Space  UK,  and  supported  by  Airbus, RAL Space, and Oxford Space Systems. Participants were challenged to design, build and test small rovers which had a mission aim of driving into a ‘lunar’ crater and collecting a sample before returning to the lander.

This competition concluded in July 2018, with 8 out of 15 teams passing their CDR and competing at RAL Space’s Mars Yard. Imperial College London’s team came out on top, winning the competition and the award for the best CDR. The University of Sheffield team won the prize for the best innovation for their advanced scoop mechanism used for sample retrieval, and the University of Manchester team were recognised for their rover-related outreach programme which encouraged more young people to study STEM at school.


This year we launched our first Lunar Rover Competition in association with Thales Alenia Space UK, and supported by Airbus Defence & Space UK, RAL Space, and Oxford Space Systems. The competition challenges teams to design, build, and test small rovers with the objective of driving into a ‘lunar’ crater, collecting a sample, and returning to the lander. 5 teams from across the UK reached the final stage after undergoing a PDR (Preliminary Design Review) and CDR (Critical Design Review) by a panel of space industry experts from Thales Alenia Space in the UK, RAL Space and Oxford Space Systems. 

The winners were Surrey EARS with their rover completing both test runs as well as surviving a simulated Falcon 9 launch on the vibration test bed. An additional prize was awarded to the CranSEDS for the best Critical Design Review of the competition.

Honourable mentions go to Bath SpaceSoc, BristolSEDS and ManSEDS for taking part in this first competition. To get to this stage, the teams had to pass a comprehensive review process managed by space industry engineers from Thales Alenia Space in the UK, the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space facility and Oxford Space Systems.

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