October 24, 2019


The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and JSC GK Launch Services (part of Roscosmos State Space Corporation) have summed up the results of the exclusive competition for the free launch of 1U CubeSat with the GK Launch Services first commercial mission in the Q2-Q3, 2020. The unique right can be exercised by the winner of the competition, Sapienza University of Rome, whose students, together with the universities of Tel Aviv (Israel) and Nairobi (Nigeria), presented the SIMBA project (System for Improving Monitoring of the Behavior of Wild Animals). Designed by an international team, the CubeSat will track the behavior of animals of Kenya National Park in their natural habitat. For this purpose, special sensors are to be placed on certain animals of various species and sizes (from birds to large mammals), and the CubeSat will relay information about their migration.

The jury unanimously agreed that the joint work of young Italian scientists excelled in the detailed mission description, mission schedule, potential risks, compatibility with the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle.

The winners were announced on October 22 at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Washington, D.C., USA. The press conference dedicated to the competition results announcement was attended by Dr. Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Dr. Otto Koudelka, Head of the IAF Space University Administrative Committee (SUAC), Mr. Sergey Krikalev, Head of Manned Space Programs, Roscosmos State Space Corporation, and Mr. Alexander Serkin, CEO, GK Launch Services (GK). 

According to Alexander Serkin, such contests can not only become a good motivation for the participants, but also serve as an incentive for the development of the space industry as a whole.

“This allows us to establish excellent relations with young teams that can grow into successful businesses tomorrow ensuring further growth of the space industry, which we all are in need of. I hope that the competition will serve as an excellent example and inspire other teams to move forward, presenting their new bold researches and projects," emphasized Alexander Serkin.

The selection of applicants for the 1U CubeSat free launch competition started in April 2019. The best applications were selected from among the IAF member organization. The main objective is to support initiative space projects of young student teams from different countries.

“We believe that this kind of competitions can spur more efficient and more innovative products. It has been a pleasure to support the GK Launch Services in this honorable initiative. We hope this will be the first of many more to come,” underlined IAF President Jean-Yves Le Gal expressing hope that the competition will become one of the “trademarks” of the International Astronautical Congress.

The runner-up in the competition was the GRBAlpha project, which brought together students from Slovakia, Hungary and Japan. Their CubeSat is expected to be the first satellite in the constellation, which will study the gamma-ray radiation.

The effect of cosmic radiation on the performance of electronics will be studied in a joint project of French students who took third place. The students represent ECAM Strasbourg-Europe and International Space University, Schiltigheim, France).

"The Space Universities Administrative Committee encourages the international collaboration among academic structures involved in space activities, including technical and non-technical universities, and in particular all players such as administration and management, professors, students, PhD and researchers," said Committee Head Otto Koudelka.

A total of 6 projects were submitted. Apart from the winners, other projects were presented by start-ups from the Indian University and the Iranian team of engineers, as well as by the Iran University.

Competitors who took the 2nd and 3rd places were awarded with special prizes.

“I hope that such competitions held with the support of the IAF will become a good tradition of the International Astronautical Congresses,” concluded Alexander Serkin.

The International Astronautical Congress is an annual scientific conference and space exhibition attended by about 6,000 space industry representatives from around the world. Congress participants discuss the current state of the space industry, conduct negotiations, enter into new contracts. This year, Washington, D.C., was the host city of the Congress.

GK Launch Services, a subsidiary of JSC Glavkosmos, is an operator of commercial launches. The company was established by the decision of Roscosmos and is authorized to conclude commercial contracts for the launch of spacecraft using Soyuz-2 family launch vehicles from the Russian spaceports.

Glavkosmosis a subsidiary of Roscosmos State Space Corporation. The key objectives of the company are the promotion of Russian space industry achievements on world markets and management of challenging space projects. For more than 30 years, the company has successfully implemented 120 international contracts and launched more than 140 secondary payload spacecraft.

ROSCOSMOSis a State Corporation established in August 2015 to oversee and implement a comprehensive reform of the Russian space industry. ROSCOSMOS ensures the implementation of the Russian government’s space program and its legal regulation. ROSCOSMOS also places orders for the development, manufacture and supply of space equipment and space infrastructure facilities. It is responsible for international space cooperation and setting the stage for the further application of space activity results for the social and economic development of Russia.