It was launched in November 2021, with aspiring space scientists invited to design a small satellite for launch, with climate change as the theme for applications.
The goal was to encourage more young people to consider a career in the UK’s space sector, and the UK Space Agency says more than 40 teams from across the UK – aged between 16 and 37 – submitted detailed applications.
The shortlisted entries were from Huddersfield, Glasgow, Kent, Buckinghamshire and Southampton, with their designs ranging from satellites to improve placement of offshore wind turbines to those that can analyse the British shoreline and its coastal vegetation.
Specifically, the five shortlisted entries are:
- a team of apprentices at Reliance Precision Engineering, in Huddersfield (a satellite to identify the species and volume of biomass growing in the intertidal region of the UK coastline);
- students from Glasgow University (a satellite to analyse shorelines and coastal vegetation);
- a team from Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire (a satellite to image Harmful Algal Blooms that produce large quantities of methane and damage marine life);
- students from the University of Southampton (a satellite using radar signals to collect data with a built-in drag sail to help it safely de-orbit);
- students from the University of Kent (a satellite to inform the optimal positioning of offshore wind turbines and help to monitor the build of plastic pollution).
Those shortlisted will now progress to the next phase of the competition, which includes a four-month mentoring programme with space industry experts, ahead of final judging in May.
“From wind turbines to coastal vegetation, the shortlisted ideas display a wealth of ingenuity and original thinking which I commend,” said the UK’s Transport Minister Trudy Harrison.
“As we stand on the cusp of a new commercial space age, this type of technology will help create new, high-skilled jobs and bring economic benefits to communities right across the UK, helping us to level up and inspire the next generation of space experts.”
You can fond more information about the competition at
More information about the competition can be found at nanosatlaunch.uk.
Nanosat Design Competition
The following details of the shortlisted teams have been provided by the UKSA:
Team NORI : A team of apprentices at Reliance Precision Engineering, in Huddersfield, are designing a satellite to identify the species and volume of biomass growing in the intertidal region of the UK coastline. This could help calculate the amount of carbon dioxide that can be absorbed and stored in biomass.
GU Orbit – OirthirSAT Team: Students from Glasgow University have proposed a satellite to analyse shorelines and coastal vegetation. This will help scientists and policymakers understand the impact of climate change on coastal regions.
Team Cetus: A team from Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, want to use a satellite to image Harmful Algal Blooms that produce large quantities of methane and damage marine life. This could improve our understanding of how the blooms form and their link to methane production.
Team DECSTAR: Students from the University of Kent are designing a satellite to tackle two separate challenges using a GNSS reflectometer. The data collected could help inform the optimal positioning of offshore wind turbines and help to monitor the build of plastic pollution.
Southampton Spaceflight: Students from the University of Southampton are hoping to improve calculations of root-zone soil moisture, which is a key indicator of climate change. Their satellite design will use radar signals to collect data and has a built-in drag sail to help the satellite safely de-orbit once its mission is over.
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