The term CanSat stands for “can-sized satellite”, typically launched in sounding rockets, such as the ones observable on the cover page. CanSat Competitions around the globe attempt to simulate the life-cycle of a real industry project, from the early initial design stages to the post-flight review. The Manchester CanSat Project will focus on the design and build of a CanSat.

The US CanSat Competition Team

The NASA-sponsored AIAA & AAS CanSat competition team consists of a combination of ten undergraduate and graduate students. Each member must go through a rigorous selection process to assess them both academically and personally.

The core goal of this team is to enter and win the AIAA & AAS 2018 CanSat competition to demonstrate the University of Manchester’s and the UK’s top calibre position on the international stage. This year the objective of the competition is to create a space probe to enter a planetary atmosphere, while collecting and transmitting atmospheric data back to base.

Full details of the competition can be found here.


The MCP runs its own workshops wherein undergraduate and postgraduate students are encouraged to build their own satellites. Their CanSats will support a fully functional data acquisition system and will descend from an altitude of 200 meters after being released from a small rotary wing UAV, at the UK CanSat Competition. Students will gain valuable practical skills from soldering to programming electronics to collecting and processing valuable engineering data. Students will also be introduced to Computer Aided Design and FDM 3D-printing by taking advantage of the University’s resources.

The workshops fully embrace the multi-disciplinarity of space systems, covering educational material from a broad range of disciplines, from Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Workshops are led by mature guest students, from various Schools at the University, who have acquired and demonstrated their knowledge and understanding of their fields in other projects, such as internships or the projects presented in this document.

To find more information about our workshops, please visit this link.

The UK CanSat Competition

At the beginning of the academic year, more than 150 undergraduate and postgraduate students from a variety of STEM fields have signed up to participate in our upcoming workshops. This number proves that there is a lot of interest among our peers for this sort of activity. There are currently 30 students and 4 teams at the University of Manchester alone consistently attending the workshops and running for the UK CanSat Competition.

The UK CanSat Competition aims to provide an incentive for UK-based students to get involved in a space-related project, as an alternative to the US CanSat Competition (see below). So far, the University of Bristol, Kingston University, the University of Salford and the University of Leeds have expressed their interest in participating to this competition. The Manchester CanSat Project will continue to push for more universities to join, while working in close collaboration with the Space Universities Network and various branches of the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, to ensure the success of this competition.

Sponsors and Partners

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The video below is from a test launch on the 11th of March 2018.