CanSat Team Counts Down to French Competition

“Yes Oui Can (Sat)”

In mid-August the VSSEC-King David School CanSat Team fly to France for the French International CanSat Competition – students must fit the basic components of a satellite inside a soda can, which will be released from a balloon at 150-m altitude. This is the first year Australia will be represented in the competition, which in the past has been dominated by university teams.

The KDS team consists of year 11 and 12 students Kieran Hirsh, Joshua Marlow, Jarryd Karsz, Sean Kozer and Yarden Rais, who are supported by their Project Manager and Physics teacher, Milorad Cerovac, and assisted by year 9 and 10 students Raphael Morris and Joel Torbiner, who will participate in coming years.

The launch campaign in Biscarosse, France, is the final challenge for the students. After submitting their design proposal at the end of 2010, the Team has spent the last eight months building and testing their CanSat; completing design reviews and submitting a major report. The Team aims to successfully complete three missions in the 2011 competition; Atmospheric Sounding, Deployment of an RF Antenna and Airbag Landing.

The Team is using the Australian OzESat, developed by VSSEC for secondary school students. The OzESat kit includes temperature, pressure and humidity sensors, a CPU, and a communications system to collect data during descent. The kits were developed with the assistance of Aerospace Concepts, Auspace and Small World Communications and can be used by schools as a context for teaching electronics, basic satellite systems, remote sensing, data processing and data analysis. ‘The two OzESats are still working, despite what we’ve done to the poor units,” Milorad Cerovac reported.

Year 12 student Josh Marlow explained, “Using motion laws I learnt earlier in the year in physics has helped me understand them better,” and he had “swotted up on more electricity, because the satellite contained telemetry chips, which transmitted the data using electrical signals.” Josh has always considered a career in science, but after being involved in the CanSat challenge, “Now there is a very real possibility I might end up in engineering.”


Mentors from Monash and Swinburne universities are also assisting the Team. Boaz Ash, Devon Boyd and Michael Eisfelder are former students who were inspired by the High Powered Rocketry program at KDS, and are currently studying science and engineering at university. The CanSat challenge provides them with hands-on experience, the opportunity to connect with international students and industry, as well as having their knowledge challenged by secondary students.

The Team has also received support and inspiration from their local community. Brumby’s (Malvern) allowed the students to use their ovens to conduct a series of calibration tests on their sensor payload. CNES and Planete Science are sponsoring the launch campaign and providing all meals and accommodation during the competition. During her visit to Australia, Gaelle Neuvic from CNES met with the team and shared her experience of previous CanSat competitions. The Robert Feigin Scholarship Trust has provided funding to assist two students, two mentors and Milorad to travel to France.


The Bureau of Meteorology invited the Team to visit its site in Broadmeadows to watch a balloon launch and learn how data is collected and processed. The sensor payload on the OzESat, is the same combination of sensors that the Bureau of Meteorology launches most days via balloon. The Bureau use these Radiosonde launches to create a profile of the atmosphere, which is then used in weather forecasting and climate modeling. The students were interested to see what happens at the Bureau and to see how similar the Radiosonde is to the OzESat.

“It has been a pleasure working with the team and I am very impressed by the standard of their work, their enthusiasm and their perseverance. The students have tackled real engineering challenges and worked very well together as a team. The standard of their work is a credit to themselves and their school and VSSEC is proud to have them represent Australia. It has been a pleasure working with Milorad and I commend him for demonstrating how students can be exposed to real world engineering challenges within the framework of the school curriculum” Dr Naomi Mathers, VSSEC program Developer.

You can follow the team via their website or their Facebook page

Schools interested in future CanSat competitions should contact VSSEC