Merseyside Teen Wins Grant for Space Sustainability Satellite Idea

Viasat, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a prominent figure in satellite communications worldwide, has proudly announced Ash Goldsmith as the victor of its groundbreaking Viasat Beyond: Space STEM competition.

Ash captivated a distinguished panel of judges, including Royal Institution Director Katherine Mathieson, renowned Space Influencer Camille Bergin, also known as ‘The Galactic Gal’, Viasat’s VP of Space Systems Dr. Mark Dickinson, Steven Fisher, Delivery Director of the Ministry of Defence’s Skynet satellite system, and Ray Fielding, Head of Space Sustainability at the UK Space Agency.

During the competition, Ash unveiled his innovative concept for a ‘housekeeping’ satellite designed to launch into space, conduct repairs, refuel existing satellites, and return safely to Earth. By integrating new technology and refueling capabilities, Ash’s design aims to prolong satellite lifespans, mitigate atmospheric burn-up, and foster a more efficient satellite ecosystem.

In addition to Ash, who will be awarded the first prize of £7,500, Krish Thakrar, a 16-year-old from North London, and Mesha Tennyson, a 17-year-old from Lincolnshire, secured second and third place prizes of £3,750 and £1,875 respectively. Krish proposed a novel spacecraft coating to minimize atmospheric light pollution and support astronomy, while Mesha introduced a space debris collector and fixer utilizing AI detection cameras and electromagnets.

All five finalists, including Amar Birring, 17, from Wolverhampton, and Isabella Hughes, 16, from Armagh, Northern Ireland, will be treated to an all-expenses-paid trip to Viasat’s Sustainable Space Experience Week at its London office in July 2024. During the event, the students will engage in various space-related activities, collaborate with Viasat’s engineers, and gain exclusive insights into the company’s operations.

Selected from a pool of thousands of entries nationwide, the finalists emerged from a competition that commenced last autumn, inviting students from Years 12 and 13 across the UK to submit their ideas for space sustainability. Entries were meticulously reviewed by space experts in collaboration with Springpod, an organization specializing in early-career opportunities, with a focus on reaching underserved regions of the UK.

Ash Goldsmith, the triumphant winner of the Viasat Beyond: Space competition, expressed his excitement, stating: “Participating in this competition has been an incredible journey, and each finalist deserves immense recognition because the competition was fierce. Space sustainability is a collective responsibility, given that we have all benefited from satellite technology in our daily lives. It is imperative to continue inspiring the next generation because their ingenuity holds the key to addressing this challenge, ensuring that the invaluable resource of space remains accessible to all.”

John Reeves, Managing Director of Global Affairs at Viasat, reflected on the inspiring presence of the young participants at the company’s International Business headquarters, remarking on their remarkable passion and dedication, particularly concerning the pivotal issue of space sustainability. Viasat Beyond: Space was launched with the aim of igniting the enthusiasm of the next generation of engineers, artists, space enthusiasts, and scientists in the UK. The overwhelming response and caliber of entries received signify a promising future for the UK space sector.

Ray Fielding, Head of Space Sustainability at the UK Space Agency and a competition judge, commended the exceptional quality of the students’ submissions, noting their alignment with cutting-edge space sustainability concepts and technology being developed by the UK Space Agency for the government. He emphasized the impressive level of research and knowledge demonstrated by all the finalists, setting a commendably high standard. Each finalist, he concluded, should take pride in their achievements, as they all contribute to shaping a brighter future in space exploration and sustainability.

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