The N-Prize Competition

Nanosatellites, because small is the new big

Earlier this week we heard that “Cambridge University Spaceflight” would be entering the N-Prize competition. The N-Prize (the “N” stands for “Nanosatellite“) is a competition to stimulate innovation directed towards obtaining cheap access to space. The competition was launched in 2008 by Cambridge biologist Paul H. Dear, and is intended specifically to spur amateur involvement in spaceflight.

The challenge posed by the N-Prize is to launch a satellite weighing between 9.99 and 19.99 grams into Earth orbit, and to track it for a minimum of nine orbits. Most importantly, though, the launch budget must be within £999.99 (about $2000) – and must include all of the required non-reuseable hardware and fuels. According to the full rules of the N-Prize, it is “intended to encourage creativity, originality and inventiveness in the face of severe odds and impossible financial restrictions” and “is aimed at amateurs, enthusiasts, would-be boffins and foolhardy optimists.”

In order to be eligible for the award, the winning team must complete the challenge before 19:19:09 (GMT) on 19th September 2011. Doing so will earn the winning team a prize of £9,999.99. (about $20,000)

They joined the N-Prize competition as team “007”. They entered in style with an update on July 23rd stating that they had broken the UK altitude record.

We launched our sixth Nova balloon payload today and the flight was successful reaching an altitude of 32 461m. We recovered our payload undamaged and managed to track it by radio for the entire duration of the flight. The payload had onboard two still image cameras and a prototype of the new flight computer design.


Edward Moore, from the Cambridge University Spaceflight team had earlier told the Space Fellowship that “We’re buoyed by the success of our recent Nova 6 flight and are continuing development of our hardware apace! Balloon flights are both useful and fun and we’ve always been impressed and taken aback by the interest on the internet in them, and that’s something we’re very keen to develop.

Right now we’re working on improving our flight hardware for use in our sub-orbital rocket to be launched from a balloon at very low cost and will be continuing with a program of balloon launches over the coming months. We are also working hard on an educational outreach program to try to encourage younger students to take up science and engineering.

High quality content is what makes things stand out on the net and is why we’re such fans of the Space fellowship.”

The official Cambridge University Spaceflight forum will be a great place for space enthusiasts to talk to team representatives. The forum will act as a place for the team to post their news, progress and media as it becomes available. The forum shall also act as a meeting place where the team can engage the public, making sure everyone gets the most up to date and accurate information available.

The Cambridge University Spaceflight team are the first university team to enter the N-Prize competition; they are also the first university to open up an official team forum with the Space Fellowship.

The Space Fellowship works as a platform to promote global networking, we see the general public playing an active role in space exploration. The community forum has become a hotbed for space enthusiasts to share their thoughts and ideas. With this in mind the Space Fellowship warmly welcomes organizations to come and share their progress with our community. The Cambridge University Spaceflight team is a leading example to other universities pursuing space programs.

The Space Fellowship warmly welcomes the Cambridge University Spaceflight team, we also look forward to seeing more stunning imagery as it becomes available.

We encourage our community to make the team feel welcome, as they do with all new members joining the Fellowship.

Learn more about the N-Prize here