Glasgow school wins CanSat launch competition

The UK’s Alpha team from Bearsden Academy in Glasgow were awarded first place in the second European CanSat Competition. 14 secondary school teams, from different ESA member states, participated in the finals of the competition at the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway.

The first prize was awarded to team Alpha, from the UK. Credits: ESA / J Makinen. (JPG, 61 Kb) CanSats are miniature simulation satellites the size of a soda can. The students had to build their own space experiments, fitting all the major subsystems including radio communications on 433/434 MHz and power into just 350ml.

The tiny CanSats were designed to separate from their rocket and conduct their missions as they descended on parachutes to the ground for recovery by the teams. They were launched in pairs from seven small Intruder rockets up to an altitude of about 1km.

Setting up an Intruder rocket for launch. Credits: ESA / J Makinen. (JPG, 68 Kb) Despite very strong winds, all of the CanSats were successfully recovered, with the exception of the Spanish one, which failed to communicate with the ground station.

The UK team received good telemetry data on 434.25 MHz, but were a little disappointed that their miniature rover deployed earlier than planned. The other teams, from Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Austria, Czech Republic, Norway, Romania, Italian, Irish, Greek, Portugese had varying degrees of success.

Once they analysed the results of their missions, the teams were judged by a board composed of technical experts from space agencies and industry. Following the UK team in second place was the Icaromenippus 3D team from the 3rd General Lyceum of Mytilini, Strati Myrivili, Greece, with the Portuguese Azorean Shearwater team from EBS Santa Maria, Vila do Porto in the Azores in third place.

“The standard of the projects was really high and the judges were very impressed by the professional attitude of the students,” said Helen Page, the ESA CanSat Project Coordinator. “They learned an enormous amount about space science, engineering and technology, as well as developing practical skills and experiencing the excitement of a launch campaign at a world-class rocket range.”

Students from the Norwegian team Navican testing their CanSat's parachute. Credits: ESA / J Makinen. (JPG, 72 Kb) The 2012 European CanSat competition was organised by ESA’s Education Office in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education (NAROM). For more details about the teams involved visit the ESA website.

The Scottish CanSat Competition was organised using the STEM Ambassador Network, a list of the Scottish schools involved and 70cm frequencies is at

Scottish CanSat Facebook

CanSat website