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A CanSat ready for launch

Establishing new CanSat national competitions

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ESA / Education / CanSat

Are you interested in organising a space-related national competition for secondary school students? Would you like to  inspire the new generation through a hands-on activity which transforms a soft drinks can into a satellite?

CanSats are small ‘satellites’ that contain all the necessary subsystems found in a real satellite - such as power and communications – that fit into a 330ml soft-drink can. They do not go into space but are released from a rocket or a balloon at an altitude of about 1 kilometre. On their way back to the ground, CanSats have to perform a certain mission and land safely.
ESA’s Education Office has been inviting secondary school students to take part in the European CanSat competition since 2010. The European CanSat competition is part of ESA’s initiative to inspire young people in pursuing a career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The competing teams are either winners of National CanSat competitions, or directly selected by ESA.
We are currently looking for volunteers to organise new CanSat national competitions in ESA Member States that do not yet have one. The list of ESA Member States which already have a national CanSat competition can be found here.

A CanSat descending
A CanSat descending

CanSat competitions provide participating student teams with the opportunity to go through all the typical phases of a real space project, from selecting the mission objectives, designing the CanSat, integrating the components, testing the system, preparing for launch, and analyzing the scientific data obtained. Through this process the students:

  • Learn by doing
  • Get acquainted with the inquiry-based methodology typical of real-life scientific and technical work
  • Acquire and/or reinforce fundamental technology, physics and programming curricular concepts
  • Understand the importance of coordination and teamwork
  • Enhance their communication skills

ESA’s support to national CanSat competitions

ESA offers the following support to national competitions taking place within its Member States, on the ‘no exchange of funds’ basis:

  • One place at the European CanSat competition organised by ESA every year  (or every second year, depending on budget availability) for one national competition winning team. This includes: accommodation and meals, local transport, access to the launch campaign facilities, launch opportunity, interaction with experts for a maximum of 6 students + 1 accompanying teacher per team, per country, per European competition; N.B. Travel from the city/country of origin to the competition location (and return) is under the responsibility of the teams;
  • Upon request and depending on availability on ESA’s side, a limited amount of CanSat kits per national competition, every year the European CanSat competition takes place (15 kits maximum, 10 for the finalist teams, and 5 spare kits);
  • Official CanSat promotion material and goodies for a maximum of 10 national finalist teams (CanSat stickers and key rings);
  • Official ‘CanSat in Europe’ logo file, poster file, presentation template and letterhead;
  • Link to the national competition website from the ‘CanSats in Europe’ website

Want to go ahead with a new national CanSat competition?

Based on its experience, ESA provides you with reference guidelines on how to set up a national CanSat competition as well as the European CanSat Competition Official Guidelines.

If your organisation is interested in organising a CanSat national competition and you would like to receive ESA’s support, contact us at In this email please attach the ‘Request for support form’ (found here).

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