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Classroom Scientists Shoot For Space

The winning team will visit SSTL and work directly with the team who will build and fly the experiment. Launch is scheduled for 2010 and the experiment could provide results for up to 3 years after launch.
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Jan 18, 2008
British space engineering trailblazer Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) and the British National Space Centre (BNSC) are challenging teams of 14-18 year olds to fly a lunch-box-sized experiment on a future space mission, supported by expert scientists and engineers.

SSTL builds small but powerful satellites using component technologies found in laptops, digital cameras and mobile phones. Traditional space missions can take many years to materialise, but by combining more than 20 years experience and commercially available technology SSTL is changing the economics of space - to the winner this means that their experiment could be designed, built and launched into space as early as 2010.

Entrants will be judged on a 5-page mission experiment proposal. The experiment could measure some aspect of the space environment, monitor the Earth in a novel way, or test out new satellite technology.

The winning experimental package should measure no more than 10x10x10cm, weigh no more than 1kg and consume no more than 1W of average power per orbit. There's no scrimping with the experiment though - it will be given a developmental budget of up to 100,000 pounds. Budding young scientists need to jump to it, the deadline for receiving initial proposals is 28th February 2008.

The Space Experiment competition promises some fun and enthusiasm for space, but satellites play an important role in our daily lives that is often overlooked. Competition co-ordinator, SSTL's Dr Stuart Eves explains, "It's hard to underestimate the importance of space technology. Satellites affect everyone on the planet - they deliver telephone communications and TV programmes across the globe; enable the safe navigation of ships and aircraft; and provide the timing signals that are used to coordinate the national power grid and mobile phone calls.

"They also supply weather forecasts; imagery of the Earth to assist with relief efforts when natural disasters strike; and monitoring of the Earth's resources and climate. That's why we think it's so important to get young people involved in space technology, and why we're so pleased to be working with the BNSC who are funding this experiment."

The semi-final will be staged at the prestigious UK Space Conference at Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey in March 2008. Here, celebrity judges will select the final six teams who will be helped to provide a more detailed experiment proposal.

The successful team will be awarded in a special ceremony at the International Astronautical Federation Congress in Glasgow, September 2008 where winners will have an opportunity to meet British born astronaut Piers Sellers, and British entrepreneur and SSTL Group Chairman, Professor Sir Martin Sweeting.

Professor Sweeting started SSTL over 25 years ago whilst he was a student, with backing from the University of Surrey. The company is now a British success story employing 270 staff in cutting edge international space missions for satellite navigation, interplanetary exploration and Earth observation. Professor Sweeting remains actively involved in educating the space engineers of tomorrow though his continuing work with the University.

The winning team will visit SSTL and work directly with the team who will build and fly the experiment. Launch is scheduled for 2010 and the experiment could provide results for up to 3 years after launch.

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Paris, France (SPX) Jan 16, 2008
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