First African IAA Symposium on Smallsats: Student Competition 

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The first International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) African Symposium on smallsats will now hold from 29 November to 1 December 2021. The Symposium was initially to hold from May 11-14, 2020. However, the organisers postponed it due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic to 10-13 May 2021. Nevertheless, the organisers yet postponed the symposium to the present date due to the same health concerns. Thus, to register for the conference, please use this link.


The symposium organisers have extended the deadline for submitting abstracts to 12 September 2021. Consequently, to submit your abstract, please use this link.  

Student Competition 

The symposium organisers call on students interested in the competition to submit innovative mission competition concepts. Thus, the topic for the competition is “SmallSat Missions to Alleviate Poverty in Africa”.

The satellite and mission limitations/specifications are as follows

  • 100kg;
  • Single satellite or constellation;
  • Any orbit; and
  • The feasibility of selection is taken into account in judging.

The organisers have confirmed the following judges for the competition.

  • Prof. Herman Steyn 

Head of Satellite Engineering and Control Systems, Stellenbosch University;

  • Prof. Robert Van Zyl 

Director of the French South African Institute of Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology;

  • Khalid Manjoo 

Co-Founder & Chief Technical Officer, Astrofica Technologies;

  • Stan Kennedy 

President and CSE, Oakman Aerospace, Inc.;

  • Mike Kearney 

Chief Executive Officer, CubeSpace Satellite Systems;

  • Allen Herbert 

Vice President Business Development and Strategy, Nanoracks; and, lastly,

  • Fikiswa Majola

Deputy Director of Space Science and Technology, South African Department of Science and Innovation.


The four finalists teams will receive a maximum of two complimentary conference registrations, irrespective of team size. Furthermore, the teams will need to physically present their proposal at a special session during the Symposium unless there is a different arrangement. In addition, there are also large cash prizes for both the winning and runner-up teams.

The review will be 50% based on the concept’s originality, while the other 50% will be on the proposal’s feasibility. Thus, to enter the competition, and for more information on the competition, including the competition guidelines and requirements, please visit here. The submission deadline is 12 September 2021, therefore, students should ensure to submit their concepts before the date.


The competition’s objective is to provide access to 10 students/young professionals from Africa to attend the IAA African Symposium on Small Satellites. Consequently, the organisers will select 10 winners for the following: Full 3-day conference registration which includes a conference bag, access to all sessions, daily lunches and an invite to the Opening Reception & Gala Dinner. Thus, for information on the scholarship, please follow this link


For more information on the conference, please visit the IAA Africa website. Alternatively, you can contact Zelda Coetzee through this email address, or mobile number (+27 (0)84 657 5476)

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