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.

Team OirthirSAT competed against more than 40 teams from across the UK, aged between 16 and 37, with the judges praising their entry for identifying a clear way to tackle climate change and test new technologies, such as on-board data processing and a novel drag sail design.


The team believe this is a timely mission with global importance for demonstrating the power of space-based artificial intelligence, aligning to current trends in the space industry. Coastal stakeholders would be provided with rapid and standardised measures of shoreline and coastal vegetation change. 

The UK sea levels are rising at an unprecedented rate with the effects of climate change on the coast already apparent in increases in the frequency and severity of storm damage, flooding and erosion and as an island nation, the UK coasts are home to a significant part of the population, yet variations exist in the vulnerability of certain communities to the risks and impacts of climate change. 

In order to identify these at-risk populations and locations, to better direct funding and adaptation and resilience support, a regular and rapid coastal monitoring system needs to be in place, which the UK currently lacks on a national scale. OirthirSAT aims to address this lack of cost-effective, standardised, holistic approaches to coastal monitoring by offering a dedicated coastal satellite platform, gathering multiple indicators of coastal change with significant reductions in downlink cost and lead-time between image capture and the delivery of coastal products to end-users.

Science Minister George Freeman said 

“The UK is a world leader in small satellite manufacturing and the calibre of entries to the Nanosat Design Competition shows the future is in safe hands. Space technology plays a crucial role in monitoring our climate and it is fantastic to see so many innovative ideas to help tackle the most pressing issue facing our planet. My congratulations go the winners from the University of Glasgow for their excellent design.

Team OirthirSAT were mentored by Dr Kevin Worrall, Lecturer in Autonomous Systems and Connectivity at the University of Glasgow, who had this to say about the team and their work.

“Working with the GU Orbit OirthirSAT team has been a positive experience for me as they have been engaged with the whole process and have been active in discussing ideas and concept. They were happy to seek advice when they felt it was needed and pushed the whole design with little encouragement needed. It has been a pleasure working with them”

“OirthirSAT can be viewed as a next generation CubeSat (from a technology viewpoint) with a specific mission that will provide impactful data to an area that currently needs more. The design is good and well thought out.”

Freya Muir, a PhD student at the University of Glasgow on the OirthirSAT team, said:

“We’re really proud to have won the competition and have our hard work recognised by the sector.”

“This is an incredible opportunity, and it’s hugely exciting to be able to develop our winning design to help protect the coast against climate change.“

Five teams were chosen from the initial entries to go through to the final stage, which included a four-month mentoring programme with space sector experts. 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 Friday 22nd July 2022.

The four other finalists came from Reliance Precision Engineering, in Huddersfield, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, the University of Kent and the University of Southampton.

Now that OirthirSAT has won the competition, the team will be able to use the £600,000 prize fund to develop and build their satellite. The team will now be focused on refining their design with the help of the competition’s mentors and judge feedback, as well as procuring their components, which will then be assembled and tested. Key upcoming milestones for the team will be selecting a suitable launch vehicle for their satellite, and preparing for their critical design review (CDR) with UKSA.

The winning team:

  • Joe Gibbs, PhD, Aerospace Sciences
  • Diego Hidalgo De Las Heras, MEng Aeronautical Engineering
  • Georgios Tita, MEng Electronics and Electrical Engineering
  • Freya Muir, PhD in Geographical and Earth Science (Coastal Modelling)
  • Theodoros Serghiou, MEng Electronics and Electrical Engineering
  • Ignacio Serrano Martín-Sacristán, BEng Aerospace Engineering
  • Gregor MacAskill, MEng Aeronautical Engineering
  • Civan Doǧan, Computing Science
  • Nektarios Chari, MEng Mechanical Engineering
  • Natalia Ibagón Sánchez, MSc Robotics and AI

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.