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Opportunities for students


If you want to get more involved in space or are interested in working in the space sector, you can take part in competitions like those listed below, carry out further studies or join a space group. For more ideas about getting involved, see our ‘Learn More, Get Involved’ page in the Careers section.

Opportunities for secondary school students

UK Space Design Competition – Regional & Micro Events
Applications for the regional heats and micro competitions of the 2014 UK Space Design Competition (UKSDC) have now opened. UKSDC is an industry simulation challenge which offers students the chance to take part in a real design project to design a space settlement, taking into account everything from structural engineering and communications, to entertainment, food production, and material costs.

Regional heats offer teams of up to 12 students aged 15-18 (Years 10-13) to earn a place at the UK final held at Imperial College London in March. From there they can go on to win a place at the international final held at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. There will also be a standalone micro competition for 11-14 year olds.

Events have been confirmed in London, Cardiff, and Oxford between October and December. Full details of dates and locations can be found on the UKSDC website. General enquiries should be addressed to UKSDC. This competition is sponsored by the UK Space Agency.

Deadline: 28 December 2013

Cassini Scientist for a Day Competition 2013
Win the chance to take images using the Cassini spacecraft. Cassini has been orbiting and studying Saturn since 2004 (who can read more about the mission here) and the team working at NASA/ESA/ASI have set aside valuable obeserving time for students to take their own images.

To enter the competition, submit a 500-word essay explaining your choice of one of three targets to be imaged by the Cassini spacecraft. For more information, including the three possible targets and where to send your essay, head to the competition homepage.

Deadline: 6 December 2013

1st ESO Astronomy Camp
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) and Sterrenlab are organising the first ESO Astronomy Camp for 26 – 31 December 2013, at the Astronomical Observatory of the Aosta Valley, Saint-Barthelemy, Nus, Italy.

The camp will explore the theme of the visible and the invisible Universe through lectures, hands-on activities, and night time observations with the telescopes and instruments at the observatory. Social activities, winter sports, and excursions will contribute to making the camp a memorable experience for the participants. The camp is aimed at students aged 16 – 18 years.

Students wishing to apply should fill out the form on the Camp website before 15 October 2013. The camp costs €480, covering full board accommodation at the hostel of Saint Barthelemy, supervision by professional staff, all astronomical and leisure activities, materials, excursions, internal transport, and insurance. Bus transport between the observatory and the airport of Milan Malpensa will be provided. The applicant with the best entry will win a free trip sponsored by ESO. This bursary will cover the complete cost of the camp and transport to the camp.

Deadline: 15 October 2013

Opportunities for university students

REXUS/BEXUS 2014
ESA and the Swedish National Space Board (SNSB) are now accepting proposals for the 7th cycle of the SNSB-DLR programme REXUS/BEXUS. Student teams are invited to propose experiments to fly on sounding rockets and stratospheric balloons from Kiruna in Sweden. Each flight carries a payload consisting solely of student experiments. For more information please visit the website for more information.

Deadline: 9 December 2013

Drop Your Thesis 2014
ESA's Education Office is offering students an opportunity to perform experiments in microgravity. The Drop Your Thesis! programme gives selected university students the possibility to develop - as part of their university thesis or research programme - an experiment to be carried out during five launches at the ZARM Drop Tower in Bremen. Visit this website for more information.

Deadline: 19 January 2014

Spin Your Thesis 2014

Teams of university students are invited to submit proposals for hypergravity experiments for the next Spin Your Thesis! campaign which will take place in autumn of 2014. Successful proposals will be conducted in the Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC), ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), The Netherlands. Visit this website for more information.

Deadline: 9 December 2013

Sponsorship for Space Conferences.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is offering several scholarships for European students wishing to attend high-level space related conferences and workshops. The full list of conferences can be found on the ESA website. Visit the ESA website for details on how to apply for scholarships.

Join a space group

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is the world’s largest space enthusiast organisation for both school and university students. Anyone who is interested can become a member of UKSEDS, young or old, student or non-student.

The IAF, or International Astronautical Federation, is an international non-governmental and non-profit organisation that encourages the advancement of knowledge about space and its application for the benefit of humanity. It holds many different events including the annual International Astronautical Congress.

Attend a space school

Space School UK runs six and eight day residential courses at the University of Leicester during the summer holidays, aimed primarily at students who are preparing for GCSEs and A-levels and who have a strong interest in astronomy, space science and technology. The disciplines covered range from physics and astronomy to engineering and planetary science. While the courses include both lectures and practical activities, there is ample opportunity for socialising too. At Space School UK you are likely to make life-long friends and become part of the growing Space School alumni. Opportunities are provided for students to meet space scientists and academics, as well as potential employers. Activities include underwater spaceflight simulation and sky-diving in a wind chamber, and students will spend a day at the National Space Centre.

Applications are now open for Space School UK 2014:

Ages 13 - 15 years: 27 July - 1 August 2014
Ages 16 - 18 years: 3 - 10 August 2014

For more information and to apply please visit the Space School UK website.

Space school is currently sponsored by Astrium Ltd, the Ogden Trust and the UK Space Agency. Attendance is mainly from schools across the UK, although students from Denmark, Norway, Italy and Oman have also taken part in recent years.

Astrobiology Summer Academy  is run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology and aims to introduce secondary school students to the science behind astrobiology. The Academy is a one week residential course of lectures and workshops from professionals in the field of Astrobiology. Applicants from remote schools or smaller schools with limited resources will be preferentially invited to attend, but anyone can apply.

The 2014 Academy will run from 6 - 12 July. To register interest head to this webpage.

The Alpbach Summer School covers aspects of space science and space technology for European graduates, post-graduate students, young scientists and engineers. This year the summer school’s theme was “Space Weather: Science, Missions and Systems” and was held from 16 – 25 July. Watch this space for information about next year's summer school.

The Scottish Space School at University of Strathclyde aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers by highlighting the career and educational opportunities available to young people with an interest in science, engineering and technology. Places at the annual week-long space school are open only to S 5 pupils in Scottish schools. This year's space school has now finished. Watch this space for information about next year's summer school.

Study about space at university

The UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK) lists the universities in the UK offering degrees in space-related subjects.

Post-graduate space science courses are offered at universities across the country.

The International Space University (ISU) provides graduate-level training to the future leaders of the global space community at its Central Campus in Strasbourg, France, and at locations around the world. ISU’s core curriculum covers all disciplines related to space programmes and enterprises: space science, space engineering, systems engineering, space policy and law, business and management, and space and society. The UK Space Agency offers funding assistance via the UK Space Agency's ISU Scholarship scheme.

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The UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space.

The UK's thriving space sector contributes £9.1 billion a year to the UK economy and directly employs 28,900 with an average growth rate of almost 7.5%. (The Size and Health of the UK Space Sector 2010/11, preliminary survey results.)

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