The UK Space Design Competition is a residential competition open to secondary and sixth form students in the UK, and run by the Space Science and Engineering Foundation.

The aim of the competition is to provide students with the chance to take part in a design simulation that exposes them to the joys and challenges of working in a large industrial team.

Students have to develop a space-based infrastructure that requires complex, challenging, and imaginative thinking leading to an increased interest in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.

When people asked why I was going on the trip this summer, I told them ‘I’m going to build a space station in two days.’ I thought I was joking. It seems I really wasn’t.” – Former Student

Four companies of up to 40 students compete for a lucrative contract from the fictional Foundation Society to build a settlement somewhere in space. This company will have just 24 hours to design their settlement for more than 10,000 inhabitants, dealing with everything from structural engineering to communications, entertainment to food production, and construction timelines to comprehensive costings. The next day they will present their final design proposal to a panel of expert judges.

We gained new insight and discovered hidden talents….Many of these skills have become crucial factors in our college lives.” – Former Student

School teams initially submit video presentations online or compete in regional heats, and then the best of those go on to the national finals hosted by Imperial College London. Selected members of the winning team are then invited to represent the UK at the international final at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

For more details of what the competition involves, take a look at our ‘What to Expect’ and ‘Information for Parents and Carers’ pages.

For the 2012 competition, we were extremely fortunate to have famed astronomer Sir Patrick Moore share his insights and thoughts regarding the competition. The following videos were filmed by Move a Mountain Productions Ltd, and Sir Patrick Moore was interviewed by Fiona Larner.