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Master the space technology of your choice! The BYU Spacecraft Group releases an annual "Request for Proposals" (RFP) that describes the technologies we want to help students develop. Form a team with other students and submit a brief proposal describing your concept for building the space technology of your choice. If your proposal is selected, we mentor your team and provide funding for you to prototype, build, and test your technology for spaceflight.

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Frequently Asked questions

Who picks the challenge technologies?

The Spacecraft Group publishes a Request for Proposals (RFP) that outlines which technologies it wants to help students take on. You decide which technology you're interested in mastering and form a team with other students interested in the same technology. Together, you explore the technology and create a concept design to propose for funding.

The RFP is likely to emphasize cost-reducing innovations in the following technologies:

  • High-throughput, flight computing subsystems.
  • High-power, power-management subsystems.
  • High-throughput, flight radio subsystems.
  • High-throughput, ground radio subsystems.
  • Attitude determination and control subsystems.
  • Packed spacecraft assemblies, robust to interface shift.
  • Thermal management schemes that integrate with other subsystems.
  • Space environmental testing chambers (vacuum, thermal cycling, solar radiation)
  • CubeSat-scale vibration tester.
  • Air bearing for CubeSat dynamic testing.
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Do I have what it takes?

If you finished the Spacecraft Competition or an equivalent mechatronics project, then you have what it takes. Mastering your technology takes at least 3 hours per week over 3 semesters, but completing your challenge gives you better preparation than any other extracurricular endeavor! Students of all majors are welcome to apply, but your team should primarily be composed of students in S.T.E.M. majors.

How do I start?

If you haven't completed the Spacecraft Competition, start there. If you have, learn as much as you can about the spacecraft technologies that you're interested in and start creating your own ideas for how to build them. When the Request for Proposals (RFP) comes out, read it thoroughly, and follow the accompanying guide.

How much funding is available?

We hope to fund 5-10 Phase I grants (~$200) and 2-6 Phase II grants (~$1000), depending on availability of funds. Additional funding may be available through SIOY or ORCA, depending on applicability.

Who are the mentors?

Your mentor will be an expert in your technology area. Mentors will be finalized before the RFP is posted and are expected to include engineers from sponsor companies, BYU faculty, and BYU graduate students.

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When can I start?

Start today! The RFP will be published in November, but you can start learning about spacecraft subsystems that interest you now. If you haven't already, start by completing the Spacecraft Competition.

How do I find a team?

The Spacecraft Challenges kickoff takes place at the beginning of Winter semester to help you form your team. After that, you can coordinate with others on #challenges on Slack to find a team or find more members for your team.

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  1. Choose a technology to master.
  2. Submit a letter of intent before the end of January.
  3. Team up with students mastering the same technology.
  4. Read the 2018 Request for Proposals (RFP).
  5. Study your technology's state of the art.
  6. Brainstorm how to create your technology.
  7. Select a unique concept design for your technology.
  8. Write a brief proposal for funding to prototype your technology and investigate further. Submit it for review by the Spacecraft Group.
  9. If applicable, enter Student Innovator of the Year and/or apply for a NASA Space Grant Fellowship.

If your proposal is funded:

  1. Model and prototype your technology.
  2. Test your prototypes in small, agile ways.
  3. Iterate on your design.
  4. Write an ORCA proposal for funding to manufacture your technology and test it for spaceflight. Submit your proposal to ORCA and the Spacecraft Group.

If your proposal wasn't funded, you can still do the above. Alternatively, consider volunteering with a team that received funding or incorporating review feedback and applying again.

If your proposal is funded:

  1. Manufacture your technology.
  2. Define your testing plans.
  3. Test your technology for operation in space.
  4. Present your technology to recruiters, faculty, and other students at the spacecraft fair.

You finished technology could even be selected for flight in space as part of BYU's next CubeSat mission!

If your proposal isn't funded, you can still develop your technology if you can afford to. Otherwise, consider volunteering on another team or incorporating review feedback and applying again.