University of Strathclyde team presents project to director general of European Space Agency

ENGINEERING students from the University of Strathclyde who created a virtual base on the moon have presented their project to the director general of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The opportunity came as part of the INGLUNA 2020 campaign, with the seven-strong Strathclyde team finishing in a top three place position. As a result, the students from the mechanical & aerospace engineering department presented their project to Jan Wörner of ESA and Johann Richard of the Swiss Space Office.

In total, the competition involved 16 student teams from across Europe, and one from the USA. The teams were tasked with developing a ‘space habitat’ capable of sustaining life in the harsh lunar environment.

The initiative aims to encourage the creation of concepts and then design and manufacture prototypes for a future ESA lunar base. The University of Strathclyde said that space agencies ‘around the world’ are considering the concept of a lunar base as a possible next step in human space exploration.

The Strathclyde team’s work focused on the power systems of the base and how to provide enough to facilitate life support systems and scientific research on their base at the moon’s South Pole.

Their project included a small-scale prototype of a solar powered satellite’s WPT system and a battery management system designed to play a vital role in keeping any astronaut safe in the main base by providing accurate voltage, current, power and temperature readings for their habitat.

Strathclyde team leader and MAE 2020 graduate, Drew Gillespie, said, “To be recognised as one of the top three teams was unbelievable and the honour of presenting our project to ESA Director-General Jan Wörner was one which I’m sure we will never forget.

“I don’t think we could’ve pulled it off without the support from our supervisors, the Swiss Space Center and our sponsor RS Components, as well as everyone who donated to our crowdfunding campaign – we want to say a massive thank you to them all.”

Dr Andrew Wilson from mechanical & aerospace engineering who supervised the students, said, “This great and very well deserved achievement is testimony to the team’s tremendous work over the past year in extremely challenging circumstances, and evidences the calibre of graduates that the University produces.”

The event was originally scheduled to take place in Switzerland, but was forced to be held online following the Covid-19 pandemic.