The University of Southampton

Southampton students win UK CanSat competition with miniature satellite design

Published: 1 April 2021
The Southampton design is the winner of the 2021 UK University CanSat competition.

A team of students from the University of Southampton have secured first place in a nationwide engineering contest with an effective design for a can-sized satellite.

The Soton CanSat team designed and built the cylindrical satellite simulation to be launched hundreds of metres into the air before returning to ground by parachute.

Judges ranked the Southampton design first in UK University CanSat competition, with a 95.8% rating that was over five percent greater than its nearest rivals.

The spacecraft wasn't launched in this spring's contest, owing to lockdown restrictions, however the Southampton team already have their sights set on a maiden flight at this July's Mach-21 competition at Machrihanish Airbase in Scotland.

This was the Southampton team's debut entry in the UK University CanSat competition.

The Soton CanSat team, run by the Southampton University Spaceflight Society (SUSF), included fourth year Electronic Engineering with Industrial Studies student Adrian Kraft, second year Electronic Engineering student Harry Snell, first year Aerospace Electronic Engineering with Industrial Studies student Oli Perez, second year Aeronautics and Astronautics student Nicholas Horsman and first year Computer Science student Thomas Cross.

"First place is an amazing result and I believe it really shows what a determined and organised team can achieve," project lead Adrian says. "Our ability to collaborate effectively online in the face of challenges posed by national lockdowns helped us attain a winning design.

"Our aim was to fulfil the competition requirements to the fullest without having to overcomplicate the design. We focused on splitting sections of our design into different subsystems such as flight software and electrical power. Rigorous testing and reshaping were key. I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in the next Mach-21 event."

The CanSat competition is designed to reflect various aspects of real-world missions, including telemetry requirements, communications, and autonomous operations. The experience allows students to get a feel for project-work in an engineering related career, develop their time and project management skills, and learn how to work effectively in a team.

"It was a challenging but exciting experience," Adrian says. "Elements of the electronic and mechanical build were particularly difficult without access to laboratory equipment. Considering we were not able to meet in person, I am very proud of what the team has accomplished."

The Soton CanSat team is sponsored and supported by SUSF, the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science, and industry partner Cirium.

Second year Aerospace Electronic Engineering student Harry Hancock is joining the team to bring their numbers to six ahead of this summer's competition. Mach-21 will take place from 14-16 July.

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