From classroom to cosmos: Students take on space sustainability for Viasat Beyond: Space competition

Thousands applied, five presented, and only one took home the prize for their winning concept

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As the first-of-its kind competition, Viasat Beyond: Space made an open call to UK students ages 16-18 to pitch their ideas for space sustainability strategies.

The competition inspired thousands of UK students to brainstorm solutions to one of the most challenging issues facing the space industry — space sustainability.

Their ideas were submitted to a panel of space experts, through an early-careers organization, Springpod. After careful review, the final phase of the competition came down to five exceptionally talented students – Mesha, Krish, Amar, Ash and Isabella.

Spotlighting stellar talent


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Isabella, aged 16, grew up wanting to work in space. She thought that the only way to do that was to get a PhD and do research. But after participating in the competition, she realized that there are many other ways to work in space, including aerospace engineering, product design, and government policy. She’s now excited about the prospect of building a career in the industry!

Her submission promotes sustainability in space by collecting and storing existing space junk and preventing new junk from entering orbit. These ideas encompass technical, design, and policy aspects.


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For sixteen-year-old Ash, who has an interest in space, particularly astrophysics and astrophotography, the idea of furthering his understanding of space inspired him to take the leap and compete.

He was inspired to come up with a solution to prolong the lifespan of satellites in orbit, by utilizing a housekeeping satellite that could repair and upgrade existing satellites instead of simply retrieving them. This approach reduces the need for frequent satellite replacements and launches, leading to a more sustainable and efficient satellite ecosystem.


Viasat Beyond:Space Mesha Quote

Seventeen-year-old Mesha’s passion for astronomy often has her looking to the stars and exploring the depth of astrophysics and the puzzles that remain to be solved.

Through the competition, Mesha applied her love for physics and understanding of the need to preserve the environment in space. She was inspired to conceptualize a CFFD (Collector, Fixer, Factory & Deliverer) that provides a holistic solution to handle space debris.


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Krish, 16, is a passionate and driven high school student with a knack for math, engineering, and robotics. He’s involved in a number of extracurricular activities, including serving as chair of his school’s math and engineering society, and is a member of the student council and robotics team.

He entered the competition because he wanted to explore policies and designs that could potentially combat the increasingly detrimental impacts of light pollution reflected from spacecraft.


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Amar, 17, is passionate about making an impact, whether it’s through his volunteerism working with young people, or his dream to develop a career in space technology that will make a difference in the industry.

With global impact remaining top of mind, his project focuses on revolutionizing satellite deployment and sustainability through three key areas of innovation, including: utilizing electromagnetic-wave transmitters for collision avoidance; nanotechnology to repair the satellite; and magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters to reduce the environmental impact.

Inspiring action

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The competition kicked off in our London headquarters as our five finalists headed to our Network Operation and Satellite Control Centers. With their mentors’ support and encouragement, they meticulously rehearsed their presentations and readied themselves to wow the judges.

Viasat and Springpod assembled a distinguished panel of judges to determine which trailblazing ideas could bring significant benefits to the industry. Judges included; space influencer Camille Elizabeth Bergin (@The Galactic Gal); Katherine Mathieson, Director of The Royal Institution; Ray Fielding, Director of Sustainability & ADR at the UK Space Agency; Steven Fisher, Director Delivery: Intelligence and Expeditionary Services at SKYNET 6, UK Ministry of Defence; and Mark Dickinson, VP Space Systems at Viasat.

And the winner is...

Astounded by the ideas presented, the judges were hard pressed to select just one winner, but ultimately selected Ash for his ‘housekeeping’ satellite idea. Second and third place went to Krish and Mesha.

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“Being in this competition has been amazing, and everyone should be incredibly proud because anyone could have won. I think space sustainability is important to us all, because we have all benefitted from satellite technology at some point in our daily lives. We need to keep inspiring the next generation because, without them, we won’t solve this problem: we want to keep the valuable resource that is space open for everyone to use.” – Ash

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Absolutely awe inspiring, and I’m a bit overwhelmed with how incredible all these students are.” –Camille Elizabeth Bergin (@The Galactic Gal)

“The amount of research they’ve done, the knowledge they’ve shown, I’ve been absolutely blown away by what I’ve seen them do.” - Steven Fisher, UK Ministry of Defence

“I think they’re all winners to come to get to this stage and really inspirational. They should be incredibly proud of themselves to be here.” – Mark Dickinson, VP Space Systems at Viasat.

Mesha, Krish, Amar, Ash and Isabella will all be coming back to London for our Sustainable Space Experience Week. During the weeklong event, they’ll go behind-the scenes for an exclusive look into how Viasat is pushing the boundaries of space and how they can help pioneer the future.

Sustaining a passion for STEM

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The Viasat Beyond: Space competition finalists. From left to right: Isabella Hughes, Krish Thakrar, Ash Goldsmith, Mesha Tennyson and Amar Birring.

We are constantly inspired by the students we’ve connected with through various programs we’ve supported over the years. Witnessing their passion ignite as they are presented with opportunities to solve complex problems and explore previously unimaginable career paths invigorates our efforts. Through initiatives like Space Camp, First Robotics, TeenTech, and our early-career programs, we are fully committed to nurturing the next generation of STEM innovators.

Not only is making a career in space exciting to young people an important mission for Viasat, but it’s also critical to make it equitable and inclusive for all. Unfortunately, women in STEM continue to be underrepresented and gender gaps persist. Through competitions like these, we are hopeful that more girls will be empowered to start a career in STEM fields. In fact, we found that 56% of the thousands who applied for Viasat: Beyond Space competition were girls, an inspiring stat for what the future holds.

“Encouraging everyone, particularly females, into STEM education is important for the whole industry, as well as Viasat, due to the rising number of jobs needed in the industry.” Charlotte Petrides, Engineering Director

At Viasat, we are driven by the belief that investing in student STEM initiatives, like the Viasat Beyond: Space competition, is crucial to creating a pipeline of talent to the industry. Together, we can unlock the limitless potential of space technology for a more connected world.

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