New competition challenges Portuguese higher education students to build their satellite

The Cubesat Portugal initiative aims to complement the academic backgrounds of Portuguese higher education students by challenging them to work in a real environment to launch their satellite.


The Cubesat Portugal competition, organised by the Portuguese Space Agency, will challenge Higher Education students to create and launch a nanosatellite (cubesat). Registration opens on 7 June.

Cubesat Portugal, which will culminate in the launch of a 1U cubesat (a miniaturised satellite with a standard format of 10×10×10 cm), will give students the chance to design and develop all the satellite’s subsystems, with a pre-defined primary mission and secondary missions to fulfil a specific objective defined by the team.

For this competition, Portuguese universities or polytechnics students must join multidisciplinary teams and be prepared to develop the project over two years. The competition’s calendar includes the presentation of the selected teams in September this year and their participation in several workshops to support the student’s work over the following months.

“Through this initiative, the Portuguese Space Agency wants to encourage Portuguese students to engage in the development of a practical case, which allows them to develop technical skills, perfect problem-solving abilities and think about engineering solutions”, explains Ricardo Conde, president of the Portuguese Space Agency.

The Cubesat Portugal competition reinforces the instruments for implementing the National Strategy for Space – Portugal Space 2030, liaising with several players in the space sector, from young people studying to the institutions where they study and the industry itself; and promoting the development of valuable skills for the sector (whether hard or soft skills) as well as an understanding of how it works. This is done in a so-called New Space approach, following the trend of miniaturising space platforms and reducing the cost of access to space.

“The Agency is working here in two dimensions: the development of academic and research skills, but also collaboration between Higher Education institutions and industry, to build partnerships and share knowledge”, adds Ricardo Conde.

Marta Gonçalves, manager of educational and scientific programmes at the Portuguese Space Agency, also says that the CubeSat Portugal initiative is a response to Axis 3 of the Strategy, which aims to strengthen research, skills development and advanced training of qualified human resources, leading to the long-term sustainability of the national ecosystem: “We’re going to challenge Portuguese university students to work in multidisciplinary environments and teams simulating what happens in a space company, and combining a business or product development project with the design of a space mission”.

This is the third educational competition organised by the Portuguese Space Agency, following the creation of the European Rocketry Challenge (EuRoC) in 2020 and Astronaut for a Day in 2022, which are dedicated to higher education and primary and secondary school students, respectively.

Portugal Space
15 of March, 2024