2018 Lunar Rover Competition (LRC) winners from Imperial CollegeCredit: Tolga Ors
2018 Lunar Rover Competition (LRC) winners from Imperial College

Careers Advice

6 Student Projects to Launch your Space Career!

Six great ways to meet new people who are passionate about space, learn new skills and boost your CV!

Not only are student projects great fun, but they are also an excellent way to learn more about the space industry, meet other students and industry professionals, and develop your skills.

They are also a great way to boost your CV and show future employers your passion for the space sector!

1. The Olympus Rover Trials

The Olympus Rover Trials (previously the Lunar Rover Competition - LRC) is run annually by UKSEDS and challenges teams of university students to design and build a Martian rover that is capable of performing tasks and surviving tests that are representative of a real Martian mission.

The competition is made up of three stages, the Preliminary Design Review, followed by a Critical Design Review, and then the top teams are invited to test their rovers at the competition day held at RAL Space in Harwell, Oxfordshire.

How to get involved: The Olympus Rover Trials is open to teams of UKSEDS members and university students. Teams are limited to 15 members and the competition phases run over the academic year.

For more information on the competition rules and regulations and how to get involved click here.

2. The National Rocketry Championships 

The National Rocketry Championships (NRC) are run annually by UKSEDS and the challenge is to design, build and launch a mid-power rocket with the aim of reaching the greatest apogee possible. 

Teams will complete a design and build phase, and submit a report to UKSEDS before moving onto the launch phase, a launch report is then submitted.       

How to get involved: The NRC runs throughout the academic year and is open to all branches of UKSEDS and university students.

More information on how to get involved and what the competition involves can be found here.

3. Rocket & Balloon Experiments for University Students (REXUS/BEXUS)

REXUS/BEXUS run by the European Space Agency gives university students the opportunity to launch scientific and technological experiments on research rockets and balloons!

Every year, two rockets and two balloons are launched carrying up to 20 experiments.

How to get involved: REXUS/BEXUS is aimed at teams of university and higher education college students from across Europe. For your experiment to be considered for launch your team will need to submit a detailed project proposal.

More information on how to get involved can be found here.

4. Fly Your Satellite!

Fly Your Satellite! gives teams of university students across Europe the opportunity to design, build and test their CubeSats with the aim to launch and deploy their satellites in space! Throughout the process, teams are supported by ESA specialists and offered access to state of the art test facilities.

How to get involved: To be eligible your team needs to be made up of a minimum of 8 students with at least 4 being at masters or PhD level of study. Your team will also need a minimum of 2 supervisors. Once you have your team you will need to submit the CubeSat proposal form.

Check out the ESA website to follow the progress of the current teams and stay updated on when the next programme will begin!

5. SatelLife Challenge

The SatelLife Challenge, run by the UK Space Agency, is looking for innovative idea proposals that have the potential to use data collected from space to benefit the economy, health or the environment. Ideas can take any form, previous year’s proposals included the use of GPS trackers to help increase the survival rate of heart attack victims, and an app to warn people of an approaching natural disaster, guide them to safety and alert emergency services.

How to get involved: Entries can be made as a team or by individuals and are open to anyone between the ages of 11 and 22. Entries can be made in any format, whether that be a poster, video or any other way that effectively communicates the idea and shows the potential for future development.

More information about the challenge can be found here.

6. International Astronautical Congress Student Paper Competition

Every year the International Astronautical Federation runs the Student Paper Competition for undergraduates and postgraduates at the International Astronautical Congress. The British Interplanetary Society (BIS) runs the selection of the UK’s two individual entrants. Those selected go on to compete at the IAC later that year.

How to get involved: Students will need to submit a one-page abstract, maximum of 400 words, that describes the project or piece of work that you have undertaken that is related to space sciences, industry or technology.

Applications for the 2020 competition are now closed; however, more information on the competition can be found here and advice on writing an abstract is given here.

Keep an eye out for the 2021 edition on the BIS website!

Taking part in student projects, such as these, is a great way to get hands-on experience and get a feel for what it would be like to work in the space sector!


Emma Collier

Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.

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