Scientists from UWB also help the high school team with the project of repairing a satellite

Competition Cooperation Science

Young talents will represent Czech republic in the prestigious global competition Conrad Challenge for the first time ever. The scientists from the Faculty of Applied Sciencis (FAS) and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering (FEE) support the high school team.

The Czech high school team LASAR - Laser Satellite Recovery succeeded among over two thousand others and is heading to the Space Centre in Houston to present its project to repair the Czech satellite Plantum-1. The members are supported by scientists from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.

Simon, Boris, Richard, Viktor, and Anička, who make up the team, have continuously met at professional competitions without knowing each other closely. One of them then had the idea to apply for the prestigious Conrad Challenge and started looking for members on social media. Then, the team was formed, and it is now about to have a big event. At the end of April, they will present themselves to the judges of the final competition right here in Houston.

The young innovators compete in the aerospace and aviation category. Their support, supervisor, and mentor are Jan Spratek from the Prague Planetarium, commander of the Czech satellite program Planetum-1. He mentioned to the team that the Czech satellite Planetum-1 was launched into Earth orbit in 2022 and is now struggling with a communication problem.

"Consultation with Honza led us to the idea that we could try to restart and repair the non-communicating satellites, 500 kilometers from the Earth's surface, using a laser," says team member Anna Krebs. The team is also supported by Jiří Masopust from the FAS and Ivo Veřtát from the FEE. "They help us to verify the correctness of our calculations. They have given us some very valuable advice in preparation for the jury's technical questions at the final and have given us a detailed presentation of their successful VZLUSat-2 satellite program," says Anna.

The Dean of FAS, Miloš Železný, promised the team financial support for their future activities. "Talented students need to be supported in their zeal and enthusiasm, and this is something we as FAS have been doing for a long time and systematically, and we intend to continue to do so," he says. As the organizer of the competition does not provide funding for the trip to the final presentation, the Plzeň, South Moravia, and Pardubice regions, where the team members come from, have also helped the students. "I am very grateful to the Pilsen Region, which fully supported me in my trip to Houston," adds Anna.

The finals will take place from 23-27 April in Houston, USA. Only the top 20 teams have been selected, with LASAR being the only European representative this year and the first-ever finalist from the Czech Republic. They must prepare an eight-minute presentation for the final summit, followed by a 20-minute discussion with questions from experts. "The presentation gets the most points. We have been using almost every opportunity to promote the project; we have already made presentations at several schools, at the opening in the Chamber of Deputies or on Czech Television, in the weekend Studio 6, Dobrém rán, in the main events on ČT 1, and also at the FAV. It is a great preparation for us to work together. One of the other parts of the overall scoring is the participation in EXPU, where we will interact with experts and VIP guests at our booth. We will have the opportunity to network with representatives of big companies," adds Anna.

The division of tasks among the team members crystallized naturally. Boris is mainly responsible for mechatronics, and Richard is a 3D-printed prototype designer. Simon takes care of the coordination of the whole team and PR, Viktor is the main brain behind the physics - he takes care of most of the calculations, and I am in charge of sponsorship, organizational matters, and, if necessary, even creating some graphics. But we are all able to work on just what is needed, regardless of our primary function."

Winning the final would make it easier for the team to implement the project. Already, at this point, all finalists have scholarship offers from several American universities. "There is a lot of competition. 95 % of the teams in the competition are from the US or Asia. I didn't have much faith that we could make it to the finals. It was only when we found out we were among the top five teams in our category that I realized what a great achievement this is, what a responsibility we have, and what we will have to do in the following very limited time period to travel to the USA and present ourselves. Preparations before the departure are in full swing, and of course, we will try to get the best possible position," concludes Anna Krebs.


The LASAR team with the Dean of FAS Miloš Železný.

Faculty of Applied Sciences

Martina Batková

18. 04. 2024