Manchester's CanSat Success

Matthew Hogg1, Sree Shankhachur Roy2, Prasad Potluri2, Constantinos Soutis1, 3

CanSat is a ‘can size’ satellite launched by student teams in a competition organised by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and American Astronautical Society (AAS). Manchester CanSat Project (MCP) team entered the competition earlier this summer in Texas, USA and was placed 6th out of 40 teams competing at the launch weekend and 87 initial entries from around the world. The competition is aimed at providing a platform for the students to get involved with the lifecycle of a space engineering project outside a paper based design competition.

Image: MCP team at Texas (from left to right): Lavanan Vengadasalam, Iuliu Ardelean, Matthew Hogg, Vaz Gorasia, Nicholas Wong, Zuzanna Nagadowska, Lawrence France; (not in the picture: Rui Wu, Ravyansh Yadav, Robert Stana)

This year the competition challenged the teams to design and build a deployable solar powered atmospheric sampling glider which transmits live data to a ground station. The competition covers a full engineering project life cycle, starting with a requirements review and conceptual designs right through to a flight-test and post flight review. Not only that but the competition also accurately mirrors an industry project on a technical level as it is truly inter-disciplinary, with the knowledge required of every major subsystem. The Manchester team designed payload of 31 cm x 12.5 cm for launch within a sounding rocket. The Northwest Composites Centre developed a glass fibre braid reinforced composite ‘can’ for the team. The team was sponsored by the Airbus Group and UKSEDS. In recognition of the work towards teaching other students and team’s effort in the AIAA competition, the MCP was awarded the ‘Project of the Year’ award at the 2017 National Student Space Conference. Next year, a new team is expecting to enter the same competition as well as potentially host a European competition. For further information about the competition, please visit the website:

Image: (left) Schematic of the glider ejecting from the can; (right) the glider developed by Manchester team  

The team is grateful to the following people whose contribution made the success possible: Dr Iain Dupere, Dr Nicholas Crisp, Dr Kate Smith, Eddie Whitehouse, Alexander Bennett, Ian Lunnon, Kerry Mycock and her team and the technicians especially Brian Clancy, Natalie Parish and Dave Goulding.


1School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering

2Robotics & Textile Composites Group, Northwest Composites Centre, School of Materials

3Aerospace Research Institute, The University of Manchester



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