Competition Overview

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Welcome to the UKSDC

The UK Space Design Competition is a science, engineering and business challenge designed as a simulation of life in industry. Teams are given a list of requirements for a space settlement and are tasked with coming up with a detailed design which they present to a panel of judges from industry, academia and business.

Open to UK secondary and sixth form students (years 10 – 13), teams can enter the UKSDC via our regional or digital heats (introduced in 2020 to replace our usual regional heats in a COVID-secure way). Winning teams from these entry points take part in our national final; a residential competition weekend hosted by Imperial College London! A select group of winners are then invited to go from there to the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) at a NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre.

We aim to deliver engaging events that showcase the value that students could gain from further study or careers in STEM disciplines. We hope you choose to join us on this journey!

Competition Overview

The experience of competing in the UKSDC, often in a very large ‘company’ made up of multiple teams, will be entirely new to many first-time competitors. The links to the left offer some guidance on what to expect from the UKSDC, how your company works, and its top-level departments.

Carving your own path and strategy is often difficult – even interpreting the task might be a daunting challenge. As such, we have provided you with some documents to help understand how a Request for Proposal (RFP) is structured, along with a sample RFP for you to get to grips with.

We would also recommend that you check out the Competition Resources, which contain lots of information about the futuristic universe in which the competition is set, as well as some Tips for Success from previous UKSDC winners (and successful losers)!

Benefits of Taking Part in the UKSDC

Starting off with the most obvious reason; the UKSDC is great fun! You will get to join a team of 50-60 like-minded space enthusiasts to do something that you would never get the opportunity to do elsewhere; design a space settlement! Throughout the competition, competitors make friends with students across the country, many of whom stay in contact long after the competition finishes!

But beyond the obvious excitement of being able to design your own space settlement, taking part in the UKSDC will allow you to develop skills and working practices that are almost impossible to gain elsewhere in your education. You will have the unique experience of having to work in a large company of 50 students, which requires you to develop the strong communication skills that are so prized by universities and employers. It is a similar situation for developing leadership skills, resilience and organisational skills, which are critical soft skills to have when applying for any role in the future.

Of course, the UKSDC also has its technical side, with huge relevance across a wide range of academic subjects as explained here and is highly respected by universities across the world. Students have used their experience at the UKSDC in successful applications for a range of Russell Group universities, as it brings together the technical skills that universities are looking for, with the soft skills that ensure you will fit in with them

Where the UKSDC Could Take You

Whilst designing a space settlement with the UKSDC may sound like it is far removed from the current reality of space exploration, the advent of major commercial involvement in  the space industry is allowing for rapid progress towards future off-Earth settlements. 

You need only to look at the recent NASA 3D-Printed Mars Habitat Challenge, which was a professional space architecture competition, to see the start of a boom in the space settlement design market. Included above for inspiration is one of the top 10 shortlisted designs by architecture firm Hassell. A more detailed analysis of all the designs can be found here, to help guide you in the competition.