SAN FRANCISCO – The SmallSat Alliance invites U.S. college students to propose space-related solutions to formidable engineering and policy challenges as part of the Collegiate Space Competition.
The first of what is expected to become an annual competition focuses on two topics: Earth science and environmental monitoring, as well as space congestion and orbital debris. Entries must be submitted by May 8, 2023. First, second and third place winners in technical and non-technical categories will receive cash prizes.
The Collegiate Space Competition aims to boost recruitment to the space industry and promote the wide range of skills and talents that space companies need.
“Many students are unaware of this entire sector of the economy,” said Chuck Beames, president of the SmallSat Alliance.
While industrial initiatives often focus on connecting aerospace companies with students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, “there is also a huge need in aerospace for non-tech people,” Beames said. “We need liberal arts majors. We need business majors.”
On the policy front, for example, the Collegiate Space Competition notes that small satellites measure and monitor a variety of environmental conditions, from soil moisture to air pollution. It then asks competitors for suggestions on ways state and local governments can take advantage of the small satellite sector to prepare for changing environmental conditions.
For technical entries, the competition asks questions about the role of small satellites in assessing soil moisture and nitrogen levels. It also asks how space data can help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.
As for orbital congestion, the Collegiate Space Competition asks whether the US government should play a role in regulating private sector access to orbital slots. And if so, what kind of regulatory and government model would ensure that orbital slots are allocated fairly globally?
Tech competitors, meanwhile, are being asked to “provide a realistic and environmentally friendly solution to dispose of old rocket and satellite waste”.
Through the Collegiate Space Competition, the SmallSat Alliance aims to raise the profile of the entrepreneurial space sector for students who participate in institutions serving minorities, including historically black colleges and universities.
“There’s a great amount of talent out there,” Beames said. “I want them to become aware of this sector of the economy.”