GK Launch Services Competition

In the spring of 2019, the International Astronautical Federation – IAF in cooperation with GK Launch Services were pleased to announce an exclusive competition for a Free Launch of 1U CubeSat on the First Commercial Mission of GK Launch Services. All IAF member organizations were invited to participate in the competition and profit from this unique opportunity to win a launch operated by GK Launch Services, that was initially planned for the second quarter of 2020. The launch date has been postponed to March 2021.

The launcher will be Soyuz-2.1a/Fregat. The new generation of Soyuz launchers features high reliability, multi-functionality, and eco-friendliness – a rocket of great world renown – launched from Baikonur and known for its long successful flight heritage and orbit injection accuracy. “We are happy to provide a launch opportunity to a 1U CubeSat on our first commercial mission. It is important to GK to support scientific projects, especially those made by students.” said GK Launch Services CEO, Alexander Serkin.

More information on GK Launch Services can be found here.

Applications had to be submitted to award@iafastro.org by 31 August 2019 and had to include: - Description of bidding organization and background experience with respect to CubeSats (if available) - Description of proposed CubeSat mission - Description of available facilities (e.g. integration and test facilities, ground station) - Funding and readiness status



The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and JSC GK Launch Services (part of Roscosmos State Space Corporation) have summed up the results of the exclusive competition for the free launch of 1U CubeSat with the GK Launch Services first commercial mission in the Q2-Q3, 2020. The unique right can be exercised by the winner of the competition, Sapienza University of Rome, whose students, together with University of Nairobi and Machakos University (Kenya), presented the SIMBA project (System for Improving Monitoring of the Behavior of Wild Animals). Designed by an international team, the CubeSat will track the behavior of animals of Kenya National Park in their natural habitat. For this purpose, special sensors are to be placed on certain animals of various species and sizes (from birds to large mammals), and the CubeSat will relay information about their migration. The project is supported by ASI (Italian Space Agency) and by KSA (Kenyan Space Agency) in the framework of the IKUNS (Italian-Kenyan University Nano-Satellites) Programme.

The jury unanimously agreed that the joint work of young Italian scientists excelled in the detailed mission description, mission schedule, potential risks, compatibility with the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle. The winners were announced on 22 October 2019 at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Washington, D.C., USA. The press conference dedicated to the competition results announcement was attended by Jean-Yves Le Gall, Past President of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Otto Koudelka, Chair of the IAF Space University Administrative Committee (SUAC), Sergey Krikalev, Head of Manned Space Programs, Roscosmos State Space Corporation, and Alexander Serkin, CEO, GK Launch Services (GK).

According to Alexander Serkin, such contests can not only become a good motivation for the participants, but also serve as an incentive for the development of the space industry as a whole. “This allows us to establish excellent relations with young teams that can grow into successful businesses tomorrow ensuring further growth of the space industry, which we all are in need of. I hope that the competition will serve as an excellent example and inspire other teams to move forward, presenting their new bold researches and projects,” emphasized Alexander Serkin. The selection of applicants for the 1U CubeSat free launch competition started in April 2019. The best applications were selected from among the IAF member organization. The main objective is to support initiative space projects of young student teams from different countries. “We believe that this kind of competitions can spur more efficient and more innovative products. It has been a pleasure to support the GK Launch Services in this honorable initiative. We hope this will be the first of many more to come,” underlined IAF President Jean-Yves Le Gall expressing hope that the competition will become one of the “trademarks” of the International Astronautical Congress. The runner-up in the competition was the GRBAlpha project, which brought together students from Slovakia, Hungary and Japan. Their CubeSat is expected to be the first satellite in the constellation, which will study the gamma-ray radiation. The effect of cosmic radiation on the performance of electronics will be studied in a joint project of French students who took third place. The students represent ECAM Strasbourg-Europe and International Space University, Schiltigheim, France).

“The Space Universities Administrative Committee encourages the international collaboration among academic structures involved in space activities, including technical and non-technical universities, and in particular all players such as administration and management, professors, students, PhD and researchers,” said SUAC Committee Chair Otto Koudelka.

A total of 6 projects were submitted. Apart from the winners, other projects were presented by start-ups from the Indian University and the Iranian team of engineers, as well as by the Iran University.
Competitors who took the 2nd and 3rd places were awarded with special prizes.
“I hope that such competitions held with the support of the IAF will become a good tradition of the International Astronautical Congresses,” concluded Alexander Serkin.

According to our schedule, these satellites will be delivered to Baikonur on 16th February, where additional work to prepare them for launch will be performed.
The Launch is scheduled for 20th March at 09:07 am Moscow time.

More information on GK Launch Services can be found here.

For company updates please visit:

The Launch was live-streamed online and can be watched again on: https://youtu.be/J1nfIV-4_e8