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European students join together to build satellites

About the SSETI Programme

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ESA / Education / SSETI Express

SSETI – the Student Space Exploration and Technology Initiative – aims to increase the number of European students working in the fields of space technology and science by giving them practical hands-on experience of working on space missions. This will ensure that Europe has a well-trained enthusiastic workforce, ready to meet the challenges of the next 30 years in space.

The SSETI Programme was created in 2000 by ESA’s Education Department. In October of that year, students from 21 European universities were brought together via the internet to discuss how to turn their dream of building and launching a satellite into reality.

ESA's role is to provide managerial and technical coordination. It helps bring students together; provides facilities for meetings, verification and testing; and offers expert guidance from its technical staff. The rest is up to the students. Working in teams across Europe they are responsible for the concept, design, development, construction, launch and operation of the spacecraft and payloads.

SSETI workshop
SSETI workshop

To date 35 teams from 23 different universities in 14 countries are involved in the SSETI Programme and over 400 students have benefited from it. The work is done through a network of students, educational institutions and organizations that joins together isolated centres of expertise throughout Europe.

SSETI’s ultimate goal is to become a support and facilitation network for all activity and education related to student spacecraft projects in Europe. It focuses primarily on hands-on involvement in space missions, including micro-, nano- and pico-satellites and various payload opportunities.

SSETI projects


  • SSETI Express: a low-Earth orbit 60 kg spacecraft due to be launched on 27 October 2005, on board will be three CubeSat pico-satellites
  • SSETI ESEO: the European Student Earth Orbiter, a 120 kg spacecraft scheduled for launch in 2008
  • SSETI ESMO: the European Student Moon Orbiter, planned for 2010-2012, to conduct experiments on its way to the moon and whilst in orbit around it

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