The Canadian Satellite Design Challenge

With the aim to bring satellite research to the classrooms of university students, the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge is seeking ideas for one of Canada’s next microsatellites.

The microsatellite market in Canada has exploded greatly in recent years. Recent successes include Com Dev’s Nanosatellite Tracking of Ships, which even in its test form has been used for security surrounding the FIFA World Cup and 2010 Olympics, and Canada’s first space telescope – Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars (MOST).

But for the most part, these programs were limited to private-industry participation, something that founder Geocentrix Technologies Ltd. and sponsors like MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, MITACS and MSCI are working to change.

“Canadian space industry and related high-tech companies will further benefit by having immediate access to the students who have participated in the programme,” Geocentrix wrote in a report concerning the project.

“They will have gained valuable technical, management, and leadership experience and skills from their participation, and will be excellent candidates to hire upon their graduation. This in turn will encourage highly-skilled new graduates to pursue their careers in Canada.”

Participants in this year’s challenge have not been finalized, but expressions of interest have come from university teams based across the country, from Vancouver to Halifax.

Since few universities offer a spacecraft design course, representatives from the Challenge will provide a one-term introductory course to any interested participants to make sure students looking to build the satellite will have a solid foundation.

Students will be considered the prime contractor of the satellite mission, and will need to present a preliminary design review and critical design review in association with the process.

The competition officially began in January. For the next few months, participants will work to understand the requirements, work on the design and get the resources that they need to complete it. The preliminary design is due in September, with critical design next January. Following assembly, integration and testing in 2012, the winners will be announced in October 2012.

There is no planned launch date yet, but the Challenge founders are working to secure funding for that.

MDA

About Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell
Canadian space and science reporter, researcher and consultant. I also am pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of North Dakota.

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