Sheffield Space Initiative (SSI) Updates

With lots of events and competitions being cancelled due to the current outbreak, our SSI project students are working harder than ever to maintain momentum and keep driving their projects forward during this challenging time.

Our students have adapted, moving all work online and continue to work alongside with external companies to gain support, develop their networks and create new collaboration potential - ensuring they are ready and raring to go when life can resume as normal.

Here you can find information on current partners and collaborations, recent project updates and future plans:


Valispace have recently agreed to support SunbYte and SunrIde projects. Valispace is a web-platform where our sub-system engineers, system engineers and project managers can work collaboratively to develop complex systems. Valispace is used by aerospace companies (Airbus, Momentus) and space agencies (ESA, DLR) around the world. They hope that working with Valispace we allow them to achieve their goals and objectives.

Joseph Middleton, Project Leader of SunbYte IV, comments;

“The teams are working hard so that even if they themselves don't see the success of the project, next year's team will. With the hard work that we are putting in this year, we hope to provide a solid foundation for our successors to build on.”


“The team's aim is to complete the design schematics for SunbYte IV, so that next year all that will need to be done is further refinement and construction.”


Recently Sonardyne, a leading global provider of underwater acoustic, inertial, optical and sonar technology and Avalon ROV’s VIP sponsor have provided the team with £5000 to put towards the cost of construction of the ROV and materials required to build all essential equipment. 


ACCU have provided sponsorship to the MarsWorks Team and delivered a presentation to the SSI Academy, the presentation can be viewed here

SHD & AC Composites 

SHD and AC Composites are in collaboration with SunrIde and provide support and contributions towards rocket parts manufacturing. ACSE continues to provide support as the main driver for the SSI projects, along with SoMaS, FoE, FoS, Knowledge Exchange, Alumni Foundation, AMRC and more.    


Over the year the project has been segmented to three main chapters; Sheffield’s Shot to space (SS2S), Spaceport America Cup (SAC), and National Rocketry championship (UKSEDS). Taking a huge step in the rocketry journey, they wanted to include all levels of student expertise, to teach, improve, and implement their ideas into practical evidence.

SunrIde group photo 2020

Sheffield Shot 2 Space was a collaborative effort from The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam, and Kingston. A multi-year long project was set up and implemented on September 2019 creating a platform for academics and senior students alike to apply their knowledge and experiment outcomes. Over the course of the academic year 2019/2020 an early test version was agreed upon and designed to be manufactured and hopefully launched in July 2021. Spanning over 6m high with a radius of about 25cm, the test version named Gregorin, is a hybrid engine fueled rocket that is expected to reach 35 - 50km high, with a similar fairing system to Vesna. It should be able to facilitate 4U satellites and a static payload.

SunrIde rocket mock-up and graph

Vesna was a tribute to the survival and durability of Helen shown in last year's Spaceport America cup. In collaboration with project SunSat, and using the same motor and fuselage, they upgraded her to hold a 3U satellite that will be ejected at the apogee, with a mechanical fairing system that is fully monitored, analysed and stabilised throughout the flight.

SunrIde lab work and rocket design

As for the newcomers and enthusiasts, the UKSEDs team open an opportunity for them to learn all about rocketry and their adjacent technologies and skills. With the help of senior students and alumni they managed to hold various seminars, meetings and practice sessions to influence the next generation of rocketeers. They have designed and manufactured a mid-power rocket for the UKSEDs competition that will be reaching an altitude of 1350m. Holding a camera, a complex ejection system and 10 DoF IMU the rocket will be logging all kinds of dynamic data that will help us improve the CFD reading on later designs. The rocker will also be holding an experiment for the doppler effect.

Their communication and work was never been impacted by the current circumstances. By the great efforts of all involved their work loads and responsibilities have been moved online, allowing all members of the team to be contacted easily - overcoming distances and time zones to keep achieving their goals.

It’s been said that to yield the best crops you need to provide the healthiest environment, and that is what SunrIde went for this year. Enjoying our time productively, students ranging through all kinds of majors gathered to forge our third step towards interstellar technologies.

Abdel Al-Omari

Project Leader of SunrIde

Find out more about SunrIde


A new team structure is being defined with Mark Seward at the project lead. 

For this year, SunSat will compile a comprehensive report on its activities and plan for next year. This will be used to update the SunSat website and potentially a journal paper on SunSat and it's direction (or a white paper if there is not enough content to meet the requirement). Some journals under consideration are the AIAA and Astra Astronautica journals but the focus remains in finishing the report.

Next year, SunSat will continue to work more closely with SunrIde to develop the SAC and SS2S rockets' payload as well as developing an in-house balloon launch capability for realistic near space testing. They anticipate sharing some work sessions with SunrIde to better understand their needs and progress, however they expect to remain an independent entity that can also deliver payload designs for alternate opportunities such as GCI/MLT.

Find our more about SunSat

All SSI students are continuing to work online and are working harder than ever to prepare themselves for a number of challenges in 2021, e.g. SpacePort America Cup 2021, Solar telescope launch (SunbYte) on board of a high pressure balloon in the framework of HEMERA (Horizon 2020) project, European Rover Challenge (MarsRover), UK student space society (UKSEDS) competitions etc.  From the academic side we continue to support all their work. Recently, in collaboration with Kingston, Cranfield, Glasgow, West of England Universities we established UK RocketHub.

Our ambition is to provide an annual program that will increase the talent pool for the UK launch sector with the skills they currently need; provide the UK Launch program with innovations it requires to thrive; develop a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), to drive innovation for the UK Launch industry and develop Under Graduate (UG) practical based skills using industry practices, processes and facilities. Inspired by the IMechE’s Formula Student programme, we seek to build an annual UK entry for competitive rocketry, based on industry best working practices to give UG a framework to develop practical skills sought by industry. This initiative was very well received by the UK academic and industrial community. A number of companies have already expressed interest or become a partner e.g. Raptor Aerospace Ltd, Spidercorp Ltd, Shetland Space Centre, BAE Systems, Prestwick International Airport, UKSA, Thales Alenia Space.

Dr Viktor Fedun

Senior Lecturer at ACSE, Academic Lead for SSI

All of our SSI project students have been working tirelessly to keep momentum in their projects during this challenging time, adapting their working styles and pursuing potential collaborations. They should be extremely proud not only of themselves but for the amazing work that they have produced.

Learn more about all of our SSI projects

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