High School CanSat test day at Unmanned Valley big success

Article by ESERO.

Pictures from DigiDaan Fotografie.

Two hundred schoolchildren from all over the country gathered in Katwijk at the Unmanned Valley site on Wednesday 15 February for the test day of the CanSat competition. In the competition organised by ESERO NL and Netherlands Space Office, pupils are challenged to build and programme a satellite the size of a soda can. Their self-built mini-satellite was judged by students from DARE and they got an insight into work in the space industry with a presentation from Lunar Zebro and support from NL Space Campus. After the test day, the 10 finalists of the CanSat competition will be chosen. They will return for the launch day March 31, where their mini-satellite will be launched on a real rocket.

On this test day, the students were given an extensive programme full of presentations and workshops. The students were able to put all their questions about their CanSat and the things they encountered to the students of DARE, the rocketry association of TU Delft. During Unmanned Valley’s workshop, students were drone pilots for a short while. At Fun with Electronics’ LED cube challenge, students practised soldering. They created a light show on a circuit board on an Arduino Uno – the same as the one in their own satellite. Lunar Zebro gave a presentation on their mission to the moon, a project involving collaboration with an awful lot of expertise to build ‘mini-moon rovers’ to explore space.


Where you might think of astronauts and rockets, space travel actually has very diverse applications. Think, for example, of satellite applications to improve food security in developing countries or monitor climate developments. Jasper Wamsteker of the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) explained more about career opportunities within the space industry. “I find it incredibly nice to see so many participating teams together on this day. We as NSO take the initiative for this competition to get schoolchildren excited about choosing a technical education. Space travel is developing at lightning speed. It is not a far-off dream; it is also possible for all pupils present here today to work in space. You MAY dream about this, for it is very realistic that it will not just remain dreams.”

Aye, team member of SandSatFlow II at the Zandvliet Lyceum in The Hague, is keen to work in the space industry. “I was already interested, but through the CanSat competition and the presentations, I do have a better idea of what is possible.”


This year, 35 teams from upper secondary schools are taking part in the CanSat competition. Each team builds and programs a satellite with a mission of their own devising. The satellite takes measurements from the sky and sends the data back. Of these, 10 teams with the best rated satellites will advance to the launch day on Friday 31 March. From September 2023, teams can re-enter the next CanSat competition.

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