UKSEDS in partnership with Space and Satellites Professionals International (SSPI) presents the Satellite Design Competition (SDC). The competition invites students to design, construct and operate a nanosatellite payload system. Students 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 STEM 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 following ECSS standards
  • 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
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 15 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


Our fourth Satellite Design Competition, in partnership with SSPI and now sponsored by Airbus, yet again sawa rise in the number of competitors from 9 to 11 entrants. Continuing with the previous year’s theme, the competition consisted of a high-level mission and system design of a lunar CubeSat. Like the previous year, the build phase was replaced with an online competition day, held in August, although teams who were able to build their satellite in a covid-friendly way, competed for a “best prototype” prize. Team Vicinity from CranSEDS, Cranfield University, were the overall winners, with StrathAIS from the University of Strathclyde placing second.


Our third Satellite Design Competition (SDC), in partnership with SSPI, saw an expansion and new direction this year. Thanks to a new partnership with Open Cosmos, the competition expanded to include a build and test phase, where competing teams had the opportunity to design and construct a nanosatellite payload. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this phase was not able to go ahead. Instead, teams were challenged to conduct a more detailed mission design, expanding their skills in space mission design. A live competition day was held online with teams presenting their designs to a panel of industry experts. Team GU Orbit, from the University of Glasgow, were the overall winners, and team SELENE, from Cranfield University, were awarded best presentation on the competition day.


Our second Satellite Design Competition in collaboration with SSPI saw an increase in teams participating from four entrants to eight. This year teams were challenged to design a CubeSat or CubeSat constellation to fulfil a scientific mission in the field of astronomy. Team GE Aviation, a team of interns, won the competition with a thorough and detailed mission design.


The first Satellite Design Competition, in partnership with SSPI, challenged teams to develop a design for a small communications satellite in Low Earth Orbit. The competition was won by CranSEDS at Cranfield University, with their design of a polar-orbit communication services constellation, and the University of Sheffield placed second. 

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