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Sponsored by the BYU spacecraft club


Take the challenge to win up to $200!

No experience required. Get mentored by students who've honed their spacecraft-building skills. After three months, your spacecraft will be launched a thousand feet on a rocket! The spacecraft will record what it sees during flight and broadcast it to ground in real time. Each of the top three teams win a cash prize! It's your time to become a space engineer. Find a teammate and learn more.


An image of people in a circle holding technology

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Frequently Asked questions

How do I start?

Registration for the 2019 Spacecraft Competition registration in open. To join, come to our meetings every Wednesday from 6-7 in room 325 of the Engineering Building. Here are a few ways you can get ready for this year's challenge:

  1. Follow @byuspacecraft on FacebookInstagram, and/or Twitter.
  2. Sign up for the Spacecraft Club newsletter.
  3. Read the challege guide to learn how to start building your femtosat.

Can I really build a spacecraft in one semester?

Yes! You really can! We guide you and provide a lot of support.

Provided Support

  1. A starter design for part of your spacecraft
  2. Mentors who helped build BYU's first satellite or who have built their own femtosats
  3. Tutorials to teach you how to build a spacecraft
  4. Weekly meetups for design help and reviews

You won't regret the hard work you put in to learn and compete. You can learn anything.


How much work will it take?

We won't kid you, building a spacecraft, even a tiny one, forces you to learn a lot! Depending on your experience, you'll need to put in 2-3 hours per week to be successful. However, that investment will start you on the path of honing your spacecraft skills at BYU and applying them in the space industry.

When is the challenge?

The challenge starts now! Find a teammate, register, and get started. The competition is fast paced, with lots to learn and do. Your work culminates when your femtosat flies atop a rocket at the end of the semester and you report what your data teaches you about the rocket’s flight!
See the schedule tab.

What is a spacecraft?

Spacecraft are machines that do work as they travel in space. Your spacecraft will be a stamp-sized satellite, a femtosat, that measures its environment. Spacecraft consist of two parts: the payload and the bus. The payload does the work of the mission and the bus supports the payload. Your payload is a sensor that measures its environment. Your bus includes a tiny flight computer, a radio, an antenna, and a battery that transmits the sensor’s measurements to a radio on the ground.

How do I win the prizes?

Scoring depends on how well you transmit data, how well you stay on schedule, and how well you interpret your data and report your results.
See the scoring tab.

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2017 Spacecraft Competition

2017 was the Spacecraft Competition's inaugural year. About 20 teams participated throughout the semester. Building a femtosat takes a lot of work and 6 teams brought successful femtosats to the competition launch day in December.

2017 Gallery

An image of two people chasing after their spacecraft
An image of three men holding their spacecraft
An image of two men working on computers
An image of a room full of computers and people working on them

An image of three people holding their spacecraft
An image of two people holding their spacecraft
An image of someone holding a small satellite
An image of technology
An image of three people working on computers

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  • All team members must be a undergraduate students, enrolled in classes at BYU.
  • Your team must have at least 2 and no more than 4 members.


  • You and your teammates are responsible for covering the cost of materials required to build your femtosat.


  • Your femtosat must be your own work. You can use open source content designed for other projects, but using content from others designed for femtosats will result in disqualification.

Project Meetup: Engineering Building (EB 325) Wednesdays at 6pm. 

Weekly meetups are on Wednesdays at 6:00 PM. An additional meetup time may be available for those who can't make the Wednesday meetups. The kickoff is on Thursday, September 13 at 7:00PM.

Tuesday, September 4First day of classes
Thursday, September 13Club Kickoff
Wednesday, September 19Weekly Meeting - Project OverviewRegistration Deadline
Wednesday, September 26Weekly Meeting - PCB schematic design
Wednesday, October 3Weekly Meeting - PCB board design
Wednesday, October 10Weekly Meeting - Breadboards
Wednesday, October 17Weekly Meeting - Programming Intro
Wednesday, October 24Weekly Meeting - Debugging / Help sessionDesign Review
Wednesday, October 31Weekly Meeting - Programming Interfacing
Wednesday, November 7Weekly Meeting - Throughhole Soldering
Wednesday, November 14Weekly Meeting - Surface Mount Soldering
Wednesday, November 21No Classes - No weekly meeting
Wednesday, November 28Weekly Meeting - Help SessionMission Readiness Review
Saturday, December 1Launch!Launch!
Wednesday, December 5Weekly Meeting - Help Session
Thursday, December 6Report Deadline
Wednesday, December 12Award Ceremony - Final Meeting
Thursday, December 13Last day of classes

Score Card

The following chart is a demonstration of what your score card will look like. Your team will be in charge of maintaining this score card and making sure that a mentor signs off on each step.

If you complete the first 3 requirements (design review, mission readiness review, launch) by the deadline, you can win $25.

Completing the last 3 (launch, acquire data, and report on the data) allows you to win another $25.

RequirementDeadlineSign Off
Passed Design ReviewOctober 24, 2018
Passed Mission Readiness ReviewNovember 28, 2018
Launched FemtosatDecember 1, 2018
Acquired DataNA
Processed and Reported DataDecember 6, 2018

Design Review

During the design review your team will show your design to a mentor and have the opportunity to receive feedback. The largest portion of this review will be the design of your board, preferably before it is ordered. This gives you a chance to have your design reviewed before you order and find out it won't work.

In addition to the PCB you will need to show two other things: a system flowchart and Arduino demonstration. The flowchart will demonstrate that you understand how your whole system will work together. The Arduino demonstration will show that you are learning about programming and that you will be able to program your femtosat.

Mission Readiness Review

This will be the last review before launch. Your team will have to demonstrate that femtosat meets all design and implementation requirements, that your flight code works, that you have a data processing plan, and that all checked out items have been returned to the shop.


This is the day everyone gets excited about! Your femtosat will be attached to a model and launched hundreds of feet in the air! During that time it will be transmitting data to a ground station. A receiving radio that will receive and record the data that you send.

The only thing that you will need to bring to the launch is your femtosat. The rockets, and ground station will be provided.

To receive any prizes, your femtosat must actually launch on launch day.

Receive and Process Data

Once you acquire data you will be in charge of processing and analyzing the data. Without knowing what was learned, data is pointless. Clearly communicate what the data shows and what you learned through the entire process.

An image of a hand holding some technology
An image of some technology


This guide is your go to place for information about participating in the Beginning Spacecraft Competition. You will find information about the different stages of the process and what you will have to do to move forward.

Summary - How to Build Your Spacecraft

Building your spacecraft involves 5 major steps. You’ll find guidance and tutorials for these steps below.

  1. Form your team.
  2. Choose your payload.
  3. Design and build your circuit board.
  4. Program your flight computer.
  5. Fly your femtosat and report your results

We recommend you do 3 and 4 concurrently if possible.


Specifications (Rules, Scoring, Etc.)


Quick Start


Other Modules



Design Reviews

Launch Day