Welcome to the
IEEE MTT-Sat Challenge

The MTT-Sat Challenge is a worldwide competition for teams of undergraduate and graduate students to design and build radio frequency (RF) and microwave hardware for small satellites.
The most promising designs will undergo space environmental qualification testing and will be incorporated in a cubesat, which will be launched into orbit (in case MTT-Sat Challenge secures enough funding and a participation in cubesat projects).
The main goal of the MTT-Sat Challenge is to advance space RF and microwave education, inspire students to pursue science and engineering education and careers, and prepare tomorrow's leaders with the interdisciplinary teamwork skills, which are necessary for success. The MTT-Sat Challenge is managed by the IEEE Microwave Theory & Techniques Society (IEEE MTT-S), a federally-incorporated not-for-profit organization, with additional experts and advisors in the field.

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Your idea at the right place!

The MTT-Sat Challenge collects ideas from students and puts them under review by a scientific board. Promising ideas will be promoted by IEEE MTT-S and supported with funding.

Fields of interest

Possible ideas might come from one of the following fields

  • Transceiver based on commercial of the shelf (COTS) components,
  • Antenna systems and arrays for cubesats,
  • Ground terminals for low earth orbit (LEO) satellites,
  • Radiation-hardened electronics based on COTS components,
  • Inter-satellite communications,
  • Electromagnetic (EM) sensors for cubesats,
  • Novel RF technologies for space applications,
or any other RF and microwave frequency related topics. For getting involved, you do not need to have approved space hardware; a good and scientific profound idea is sufficient.


The MTT-Sat Challenge is divided into several phases spanning over all technology readiness levels (TRLs).

  • Call for Ideas (TRL 1-2)
  • Call for Proof of Concepts (TRL 2-3)
  • Call for Demonstrators (TRL 4-5)
  • Call for Flight Hardware (TRL 6)
TRLs are a set of metrics that enable the assessment of the maturity of a particular technology and the consistent comparison of maturity between different types of technology (see for example European Space Agency's TRL handbook). The planned schedule for this challenge is shown below. The program is intended to run over four academic years, starting in June 2019. You can enter the MTT-Sat Challenge at every single phase, just submit your proposal by the deadline.

Your team

The MTT-Sat Challenge is open to teams comprised of students from one or more universities. Individual team members must be degree-seeking students, i.e., enrolled full-time or part-time in a degree program at a university, in any faculty, or department. Each team shall have a Faculty Coordinator, who is a legal faculty member of the university.

Getting involved

There is no fee to enter a team into the Challenge. Your team prepares a proposal according to the template published below. Please submit your proposal before the deadline to Microsoft Conference Management Toolkit (CMT). After submission, the review committee will judge on your ideas and select the most promising ideas from all submissions. If you plan to submit a proposal, please submit a short Letter of Interest by end of August 2019 to satchallenge@mtt.org.

Your Way to the Launchpad /


The planned schedule for this challenge is as follows:
DOWNLOAD Schedule (svg)

Mission Accepted /

Getting Started

At this time, IEEE MTT-Sat Challenge is calling for your ideas. This first phase will end with the IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. Please prepare a proposal based on the template provided below. Specific information on the Call for Ideas can also be found in the documents listed below. The deadline for submission is October, 1, 2019, 11 pm (Hawaii Standard Time, HST). Please upload your proposal via Microsoft CMT. The review of the first phase is scheduled for October 2019. You will be notified by November, if your proposal is accepted. If you plan to submit a proposal, please submit a short Letter of Interest by end of August 2019 to satchallenge@mtt.org. Follow-up proposals for the Call for Proof of Concepts are due in May, 2020. You will find more information on the Call for Proof of Concepts here as soon as we open up the call.
DOWNLOAD Call for Ideas
DOWNLOAD Proposal Template (docx)
DOWNLOAD Proposal Template (pdf)

Supporters /



The IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) is a transnational society with more than 10,500 members and 190 chapters worldwide. Our society promotes the advancement of microwave theory and its applications, including RF, microwave, millimeter-wave, and terahertz technologies.

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To become a sponsor, please contact the organizing committee (see contact below).


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Prof. Dr. Schilling had in space industry responsibility in Earth observation and interplanetary satellites, before he has been appointed professor and chair for Robotics and Telematics at University Würzburg. He is the president of the research company Center for Telematics. His team built the first German pico-satellite UWE-1, launched 2005 to optimize Internet in space. He received an Advanced Grant of the Eurpean Research Council (ERC) 2012 for research on control of networked distributed satellite systems and an ERC Synergy Grant 2018 for CloudCT to improve climate models by observations with a formation of small satellites.

Klaus Schilling Professor, University Würzburg
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Steven C. Reising, Ph.D., serves as a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. He is currently the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems - Demonstration (TEMPEST-D) mission that has demonstrated global measurements using a multi-frequency millimeter-wave radiometer on a CubeSat. For the past ten years, he has served as the PI of NASA programs to develop miniaturized millimeter-wave technology for space in close collaboration with NASA/Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Northrop Grumman and Blue Canyon Technologies.

Steve Reising Professor, Colorado State University
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To become an expert advisor please contact the organizing committee (see contact below).

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For all questions concerning the MTT-Sat Challenge, plase contact the organizing committee (see contact below).


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