The American Astronautical Society (AAS) has organized an annual student design-build-launch competition for space-related topics known as CanSat. Although similar competitions exist for other fields of engineering (robots, radio-control airplanes, racing cars, etc.), most space-related competitions are paper design competitions. While these are worthwhile, they do not give students the satisfaction of being involved with the end-to-end life cycle of a complex engineering project, from conceptual design, through integration and test, actual operation of the system and concluding with a post-mission summary and debrief. This competition fulfills that need!
Since its start in 2004, the CanSat competition has become an annual event providing a unique opportunity for university and college student teams to design, build, and launch a soda can-size satellite (CanSat) designed to meet specific mission objectives. Teams must be able to design and build a space-type system following the approved competition guide, and then compete against each other at the end of two semesters to determine the winners.
When deployed from the rocket the re-entry container must descend, via parachute, with the science vehicle secured in the container. When released, the science vehicle should utilize a passive helicopter/auto gyro recovery method to reduce its descent rate to less than 10 meters per second. The vehicle must then stabilize and descend at a minimum altitude of 300 meters. During descent the science vehicle should record video (pointing at Earth) until it lands, and must collect telemetry data during the descent at a 1 hertz (or one cycle per second) rate to a ground station. When the vehicle lands it should hold one large hen's egg, unbroken from the fall.
Spanning a decade long commitment by the U.S Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and other federal and commercial sponsors, the goal of CanSat is to foster student growth in multiple disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Who is CanSat for and how do I get involved?
This annual competition is open to teams from universities and colleges. Teams must be able to design and build a space-type system, following the approved competition guide, and then compete against each at the end of two semesters to determine the winners. Rockets will be provided but teams are responsible for funding the construction of their CanSat and all travel/lodging expenses.
If you are interested in participating in CanSat, please contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or email@example.com
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