2018 National Finals

2018 Finals Marcus du Sautoy

UK Space Design Competition Finals 2018

It was great to join all the students this weekend who took part in the UK Space Design Competition finals for 2018. This year the students were transported forward to the year 2038 where they were tasked with designing Bellevistat, a space settlement in orbit around the Earth-Moon L4 libration point.

The challenge conjured up for me images of the rotating wheel space station from Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001 A Space Odyssey. I must admit that I have always been a sucker for space movies. I love the moment in Apollo 13 where Tom Hanks is scribbling mathematical equations on a scrap of paper in an attempt to calculate their way out of immanent death as they plunge back to Earth. Or Matt Damon applying his biological skills to survive on Mars in the film Martian. Or Anne Hathaway and crew using Einstein’s theory of general relativity to work out how many years on Earth they were about to lose as they entered a huge gravitational field in Interstellar.

So I could recognise the buzz of excitement that students this weekend felt as they got the chance to be involved in their very own space story, designing the set and using their mathematical and scientific skills to solve tricky problems that arise during their own adventure. Of course as we go forward, adventures in science fiction are increasingly becoming the next ideas for science fact. The designs that the students have been coming up with over the weekend could well be the ingredients for a future reality of a settlement on Mars or the Moon or orbiting the Earth.

One of the things I love about the competition is seeing the combination of skills that the students bring to the competition. It is one of the tragedies of our education system that we treat subjects in isolation. You go from the maths lesson to geography to art never realising the huge connections across the curriculum. The competition really fights this silo mentality requiring students to bring their scientific and mathematical expertise to bear (they need to know what a libration point is) but combining that with an artistic flair to design their settlement, a business acumen to cost the whole project and finally bringing their presentational and theatrical talents to present the project to the judges. The competition builds bridges across all these aspects of the education system.

The students set out on Saturday morning on an amazing journey of discovery and exploration. Although they come back to Earth on Sunday afternoon, I am sure the competition will be the launch pad for a life-time’s journey exploring science, the arts and the universe.

Marcus du Sautoy FRS, OBE
Is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford



Congratulations to more of our alumni!

Some more congratulations are in order for our competition alumni.

Four students from Rockdonnell, the 2016 UK Final winners, have been invited from the reserve list to form part of a European Union team for this summer’s International Space Settlement Design Competition.  These students will join the UK team to travel to NASA and enjoy some sightseeing either side of the competition weekend.

The four students are:
Joel Abraham, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School
Sam Bedell, Sutton Grammar School
Jack Gregory, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School
Jonathan Heywood, Sutton Grammar School

The students will form a team with schools from the European Union.  Watch this space for confirmation of these schools!

2016 Competition

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2016 Competition


Huge congratulations to all of the students taking part in this year’s UK Space Design Competition National Finals, which took place at Imperial College London at the weekend!

You all tackled the most complicated Request for Proposal yet.  We hope you all feel inspired and are looking forward to re-entering next year or becoming an alumni volunteer.  Dates for the 2016-17 competition will be announced on this website by July 2016.

Well done to Rockdonnell, who this year won the competition with their planning for reduced populations and the high quality of their presentation.  Rockdonnell was comprised of students from Bishop’s Stortford College, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, St Lawrence College, Athens, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School and Sutton Grammar School.

Twelve students will represent the UK at the International Space Settlement Design Competition this summer.  They are:
Matthew Braz, Bishop’s Stortford College
Natasha Cowan, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls
Will Daniels, Bishop’s Stortford College
James Drummond, Sutton Grammar School
Victoria Farrant, Bishop’s Stortford College
Matthew Forth, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School
Fergal Marrett, Sutton Grammar School
Sam Marshall, Bishop’s Stortford College
Jacob Robertson, Sutton Grammar School
Nikita Sarker, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls
Sudhakar Sivaneswaran, Sutton Grammar School
Alexander Turley-Pound, Bishop’s Stortford College

There are also four students on the reserve list:
Sam Bedell, Sutton Grammar School
Jonathan Heywood, Sutton Grammar School
Robin Hartland, Sutton Grammar School
Joel Abraham, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School