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ESA / Education / CubeSats - Fly Your Satellite!


ESA invites university student teams from ESA Member States, Canada, Latvia and Slovenia that are developing a one, two or three-unit CubeSat with mainly educational objectives to propose their satellite for the new edition of the “Fly Your Satellite!” (FYS) programme. 

  1. Team Composition
  2. Scope of the Candidate CubeSat
  3. ESA Sponsorship
  4. Terms and Conditions
  5. Legal and Registration
  6. Fly Your Satellite! CubeSat Requirements
  7. Project Funding
  8. Endorsement Letter
  9. CubeSats Ranking and Selection

1. Team Composition
The opportunity is open to teams from universities of ESA Member States, Canada, Latvia and Slovenia.
The applicants shall be a university team that includes: 

  • A core team of minimum 8 students complying with the eligibility criteria. The number of student team members may be extended during the project lifetime. There is no limit to the maximum number of student team members. 

Of these 8, a minimum of 4 student team members shall be at master or PhD level.

Student team members are encouraged to prepare graduation theses on subjects (e.g. technological, engineering, scientific,…) related to their CubeSat mission. This shall be reflected in the proposal, and ESA will consider it as an educational asset.
The core student team (as specified above) and all students receiving sponsorship or training from the ESA Education Office must comply with the following eligibility criteria: 

  • Be aged between 18 and 32;
  • Be a citizen of an ESA Member State, Canada, Latvia or Slovenia;
  • Enrolled as a full-time bachelor, master or PhD student (or equivalent)  at a university of an ESA Member State, Canada, Latvia or Slovenia.

CubeSat teams may include a limited number of students that do not comply with the eligibility criteria above, but those students will not be supported by ESA for participation in programme events, nor for training.

minimum of 2 supervisors, covering these three functions:

  • An endorsing professor, responsible for the CubeSat project, endorsing the CubeSat proposal on behalf of the university;
  • team leader (the professor, PhD student, or an assistant of the university) coordinating the project at system level and ensuring the milestones and deadlines of the FYS programme are met;
  • system engineer (the team leader, or a PhD student from the same university as the team leader);


The key roles of team leader and system engineer must be undertaken by citizens of an ESA Member States, Canada, Latvia or Slovenia.

Those conditions on the team composition will continue to apply throughout the entire project execution. ESA may ask the university teams to provide evidence of their compliance to the eligibility criteria at any time during the project.

2. Scope of the Candidate CubeSat
The new edition of the Fly Your Satellite! programme is open to university student teams working on a one-, two- or three-unit CubeSat. Depending on the development status there are two entry levels:

  • Entry level 1 (to Phase C) is open to CubeSat teams that have a detailed design of their system finalised or that are ready to proceed to the satellite integration.
  • Entry level 2 (to Phase D) is open only to CubeSat teams that have completed the detailed design as well as the procurement and integration of all elements of the satellite. Applicant teams for this entry level will be asked to allow inspections of the integrated satellite, as well as to offer a demonstration of a few of the satellites’ functions through a preliminary functional test.

The scope of the proposed CubeSat mission shall be educational, and the proposal shall clarify in which way the educational objectives will be pursued.

The proposal shall also highlight the mission objectives of the CubeSat (for instance technological experiments, scientific research or other).

Only one proposal per university faculty or department can be considered for the application to Fly Your Satellite!. The faculty or department will be asked to withdraw the other applications in case of multiple applications.

If the proposed project is a joint undertaking of multiple parties (e.g. two universities collaborating on one mission), one single university shall act as the leading university and the key point of contact vis-à-vis ESA. The collaborations with other organisations or institutions shall be clarified in the proposal, including a description of the mutual agreements.

For the current call, launch opportunities to LEO are envisioned. Teams should indicate in their CubeSat Proposal the range of orbits to which they are compatible in terms of mission objectives, ground coverage, system performance, etc. Launches from the International Space Station may be offered within the programme, and as those launches may be more readily available due to recurrent resupply flights, compatibility with the ISS safety requirements and orbit is strongly recommended. 

3. ESA Sponsorship
Students who may directly benefit from the different forms of sponsorship that the ESA Education Office will offer must comply with the eligibility criteria. Students that do not meet the eligibility criteria cannot be sponsored by the ESA Education Office.
ESA contribution in the support of the participating CubeSat student teams will include the following:

  • Support offered by the ESA Education personnel that run the programme, and by the ESA specialists who will lecture, follow up, and review the student activities; 
  • Access to and use of test facilities;
  • Student sponsorship for travel and accommodation for the participation in ESA workshops and training courses, reviews of the “Fly Your Satellite!” programme and test campaigns;
  • Launch opportunity, if the CubeSat is accepted for launch.


It is noted that selection for participation in the Fly Your Satellite! programme does not offer a guaranteed launch, and that launch dates will be defined throughout the programme. The earliest launch opportunity for teams selected through the present call for proposals is expected as of 2021.

4. Terms and Conditions
The acceptance of the FYS general Terms and Conditions, applicable for the University to participate in ESA’s “Fly Your Satellite!” programme, is mandatory and a prerequisite condition to participate to the Programme. The University is requested to carefully read these general Terms and Conditions before submitting an application for participation to ESA's FYS Programme.  

It is strongly recommended to provide the FYS general Terms & Conditions to the university legal administration as early as possible, in order to prepare and enable the university to confirm the participation of the Cubesat team to the programme upon selection.

When planning to submit an application, the team leader may send an email to cubesats (at) to receive a copy of the FYS general Terms & Conditions document and confirming in writing that “the document will be used for the purpose of preparing the FYS 3 application only, and will not be distributed to persons outside the project team.”

5. Legal and Registration
ESA does not take ownership of the satellites. The CubeSat teams or their universities will remain the owners of the satellites, and will hold all the responsibilities related to ownership, these include: 

  • the mandatory coordination of amateur frequencies with the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), if applicable;
  • the registration of the satellite frequencies at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU);
  • the registration of the satellite at the United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space; 
  • the responsibility to perform the analysis for the satellite de-orbiting, and overall compliance with the requirements for space debris mitigation;
  • any applicable national legislation.


ESA will offer guidance on each of these topics throughout the programme.

6. Fly Your Satellite! CubeSat Requirements
When planning to submit an application, the team leader shall send an email to cubesats (at) to receive a copy of the FYS requirements document (the “Fly Your Satellite design Specification”) and complementary compliance matrix and confirming in writing that “the document will be used for the purpose of preparing the FYS 3 application only, and will not be distributed to persons outside the project team.”

Compliancy to the FYS requirements must be reported within the CubeSat Proposal, in the dedicated annex part of the template.

7. Project Funding
The teams participating in the Fly Your Satellite! programme shall rely on their own sponsors to fund the complete development of their satellite and ground station.
The student teams shall also rely on their own independent funding to support the satellite operations.
A letter from authorities of the university confirming that the funds necessary to build and operate the CubeSat (if selected to FYS) will be available shall be attached to the online submission form.  

8. Endorsement Letter
The endorsing professor shall write a formal letter of endorsement, including signature, in which he/she pledges his support to the team members and the proposed CubeSat project. The endorsing professor should clearly state that he/she supports the FYS application and that he/she accepts responsibility for the CubeSat project.

9. CubeSats Ranking and Selection
All proposals will be reviewed and decisions regarding rankings and selections of CubeSat teams will be taken by a dedicated ESA CubeSat Evaluation Panel composed of ESA experts.
The selection criteria will include, amongst others:

  • the educational content;
  • the mission objectives;
  • the feasibility of the proposed CubeSat project, and its compatibility with the FYS schedule and milestones;
  • the team and project organisation.

Rankings and selections will not apply only to the process of the proposals selection, but also to select the project teams admitted from one phase to the next.