Contest opens to win a satellite launch

Max Blenkin

Maybe it had to happen. You can now enter a contest to win a free satellite launch. The International Astronautical Federation (IAF), in co-operation with Russian space company GK Launch Services, have announced an exclusive contest for a free launch of 1U CubeSat on the company’s first commercial mission.

“We cordially invite all IAF member organisations to participate in the competition and profit from this unique opportunity to win a launch operated by GK Launch Services,” they announced.

Launch is planned for second quarter 2020. The organisers says this aims to reach out to space university teams from emerging countries. The IAF has multiple Australian member organisations and Australia would appear to qualify as an emerging space nation.

This isn’t a very big satellite – a standard 1U CubeSat has a usable volume of 10 centimetre cube (10x10x10) and can mass no more than 1.3 kilograms. That would make it perfect for a science or technology experiment.

It will be launched as a secondary payload on a Soyuz-2.1a/Fregat, the latest generation of Soyuz launchers that feature high reliability and multi-functionality, from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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GK Launch Services was established in 2017 by Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of Roscosmos State Space Corporation and International Space Company Kosmotras.

“We are happy to provide a launch opportunity to a 1U CubeSat on our first commercial mission. It is important to GK to support scientific projects, especially those made by students,” said GK Launch Services chief executive Alexander Serkin.

 

Applications will have to include a description of the bidding organisation and background experience with CubeSats, a description of the proposed CubeSat mission, description of available integration, test facilities and ground station, and information on funding and readiness.

A joint IAF-GK Launch Services selection board will review the applications and select the winner, which will be announced at the IAC 2019 conference in Washington. That takes place from 21-25 October.

Applications must be submitted to [email protected] by 8 August.

It may not be quite as cool as winning your own satellite launch, but NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names, stencilled on chips, to the Red Planet with NASA's Mars 2020 rover.

The list is open until 30 September. NASA even issues a boarding pass with frequent flyer miles of more than 300 million.

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