Nanosat Design Competition

From next year, small satellites will launch into Space from UK spaceports for the first time – helping to create new jobs and opportunities for future space scientists and engineers just like you.

The LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition closed on 8 Jan 2022. Five teams were chosen from the initial entries to go through to the final stage, competing for a piece of the £600k Challenge Fund.

The team from Glasgow, named OirthirSAT, were announced overall winners at a Celebration Event held at the ‘Pioneers of Tomorrow’ day at Farnborough International Airshow on 22 Jul 2022. The 10 individuals from Team OirthirSAT impressed the judges with their outstanding nanosat design proposal for a satellite to analyse shorelines and coastal vegetation to help scientists and policymakers understand the impact of climate change on coastal regions.

Keep up to date on the progress of the teams and the competition below.

Launch vehicle taking off leaving smoke behind in an open valley with mountains

Nanosat Design Competition

From next year, small satellites will launch into Space from UK spaceports for the first time – helping to create new jobs and opportunities for future space scientists and engineers just like you.

The LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition closed on 8 Jan 2022. Five teams were chosen from the initial entries to go through to the final stage, competing for a piece of the £600k Challenge Fund.

The team from Glasgow, named OirthirSAT, were announced overall winners at a Celebration Event held at the ‘Pioneers of Tomorrow’ day at Farnborough International Airshow on 22 Jul 2022. The 10 individuals from Team OirthirSAT impressed the judges with their outstanding nanosat design proposal for a satellite to analyse shorelines and coastal vegetation to help scientists and policymakers understand the impact of climate change on coastal regions.

Keep up to date on the progress of the teams and the competition below.

About us

LaunchUK logo

The UK’s spaceflight programme leading the commercial space age, comprised of…

Meet our partners

The people helping organise the Nanosat Design Competition…

Nanosatellite hardware
Industrial factories with smoke
UK from Space
Nanosat

Hang on a second...what is a nanosat?

A nanosat is an artificial satellite with a mass of between 1 kg and 10 kg, often used in low Earth orbit for various applications. These small but mighty satellites help us understand the Earth and its many environmental challenges. More recently, nanosats have also been used for missions to Mars and soon will be sent to the Moon and Jupiter.
Nanosat
Impact

Harnessing space to save our planet

From rapid wildfires to severe flooding, climate change is happening. Satellites collect data that allow scientists to analyse the effect of climate change. Valuable data including global temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions and ice cover provide understanding of the human effect on our world.
Impact
We need you

We need you. Are you ready for the challenge?

This is an opportunity of a lifetime, where winners have the potential to build a launch-ready satellite. With support from LaunchUK and our partner organisations, the Nanosat Design Competition is designed for upskilling, learning, and finding out more about the space sector.
We need you
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Ready for the challenge?​

A guide to getting your ideas to take off with LaunchUK

Competition outline

We are on the lookout

If you are over 16 and living in the UK, LaunchUK is inviting you to apply to our Nanosat Design Competition. The competition challenges entrants to design a nanosat that will support the UK in meeting its decarbonisation and climate change strategy. 

Two people working together at a desk with a laptop and papers and folders

How can I enter?

To enter the competition, first register here – this will give you access to the full application form and a useful resources list.

Completed application forms must be submitted here. All applications must be received no later than 1pm GMT on 7 January 2022. If you are 16 or 17, you will also need to submit a signed parent/guardian form. So, what are you waiting for? Register now below.

Key dates

Do not miss out on anything!

From submission deadlines to awards ceremony dates, here is the essential guide to the competition schedule.

If you have any questions, get in touch using the ‘Message us’ button below or email us at [email protected].

Competition open! Mission Phase A
5 November 2021

Ready for a challenge?

Applications will be open and we will be holding online events to support your entry.

Launch event Virtual Event
11 November 2021

Join our fantastic panel of industry experts who will share everything you need to know about the competition plus be available for live questions.

Watch a recording of the virtual event here.

Application due Mission Phase A
7 January 2022

Get your entries in!

The closing date for all applications.

Shortlisting process Mission Phase B
15 January 2022

Finalists chosen!

We will shortlist applications to 5 finalists, who will continue to compete with support from space industry mentors.

Judging complete Mission Phase B
May 2022

Choosing the winner.

Judges will hand in their score for the winning entrants to be announced.

Awards ceremony Mission Phase B
Summer 2022

The winning projects officially announced.

Additional mentors matched with winners for the next mission phase.

The next phase! Mission Phase C/D
2022 / 2023

Building your nanosat!

Work with LaunchUK and space experts to get your nanosat design refined and launch-ready.

Make a global impact!

Supporting your ideas and helping your space career take off

Benefits and support

Building the future of the UK space sector

With support from LaunchUK and our partner organisations, the Nanosat Design Competition is designed for upskilling, learning, and finding out more about the space sector.

Person having a video call on a laptop with a mentor

Mentoring

Shortlisted entrants will be paired up with space sector experts to help them design and potentially build a satellite.

We want to encourage everyone to apply. Our mentors will be available to help shape and guide you along the way — even if you do not have an engineering or science degree!

Space is for everyone!

You might want to think about a career in the space sector

Judges

Judges

Meet the judges

Meet our esteemed panel of judges who have been carefully selected to bring their expertise and experience in spotting the best ideas and projects. Each judge will bring their individual and unique lens to decide the winning projects that will proceed to building a launch-ready satellite! More judges to be added here in due course, so stay tuned!

Dr Suzie Imber

Suzie Imber is an Associate Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester. She specialises in studying space weather; understanding the impact of the solar wind on the magnetised planets, in particular the Earth and Mercury. Suzie is a co-Investigator on the X-ray spectrometer on board the joint ESA/JAXA BepiColombo spacecraft launched in October 2018 and arriving at Mercury in 2025. Suzie was also the winner of the recent BBC 2 series ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes?’.

News and updates

Stay up to date with the competition

And the winner is...​

And the winner of the LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition is....Team OirthirSAT!

Huge congratulations to this inspirational team of 10 individuals from Glasgow University who impressed the judges with their outstanding nanosat design proposal for a satellite to analyse shorelines and coastal vegetation to help scientists and policymakers understand the impact of climate change on coastal regions.

Meet the Shortlisted Teams

Moving our focus to the shortlisted teams, we’re now delighted to introduce you to the teams and an insight into what inspired them to get involved with the LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition.

Our fantastic mentors

The LaunchUK team is working with a wide range of mentors within the space and satellite industry whose backgrounds prove you don’t have to be a scientist or engineer to work in the sector!

Careers in the space and satellite industry

A wide range of careers exist within the space and satellite industry and you don’t have to be a scientist or engineer. LaunchUK has opened a competition where you will have the opportunity to explore the range of skills used within the space and satellite industry.

How satellites help us tackle climate change, and how you can get involved

Satellites play a key role in our fight against climate change. Even the smallest satellites can make a big difference. Learn more about how satellites can help inform solutions to climate change, and how you can gain the opportunity to develop your own satellite to contribute to the UK’s climate-change mitigation and decarbonisation efforts.

Launch vehicle taking off leaving smoke behind in an open valley with mountains

Virtual Launch Event

On the evening of Thursday 11 November, LaunchUK hosted a virtual event where the audience heard from an expert panel who shared what you need to know about taking part in the Nanosat Design Competition - from the timeline, criteria, mentors, judges, registration, and application process to the technical elements of the application.

Nanosatellite hardware components

Competition opens

LaunchUK has opened a new competition for young people (16+) to design a nanosatellite to inform solutions to climate change.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Nanosatellite hardware

LaunchUK Nanosat Design Competition

A competition encouraging young people (16+) to design a satellite, with a £600k prize up for grabs!

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Join our newsletter

Stay up to date with the Nanosat Design Competition and the progress of our entrants.

How to enter

To enter the competition, first register here – this will give you access to the full application form and a useful resources list.

Completed application forms must submitted here. All applications must be received no later than 1pm GMT on 7 January 2022. If you are 16 or 17, you will also need to submit a signed parent/guardian form. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now.

LaunchUK is a partnership between the UK Space Agency and the Department for Transport, and supported by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Nanosat Design Competition is designed to inspire and engage young people about launch from the UK and to encourage engagement with STEM subjects.

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