CTE Mission: CubeSat is a national challenge to build technical skills for careers in space and beyond. The U.S. Department of Education invites high schools to bring space missions to students by designing and building CubeSat prototypes — in the classroom or at home

Any public school that is eligible to receive funding under the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006, as amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), may participate in the multiphase challenge. 

The critical role of CTE

Career and Technical Education (CTE) plays an important role in developing a more competitive workforce. Technology skills are critical for success in many careers; education providers must adapt and create opportunities for applied technical learning to prepare students for 21st-century work. 


Firsthand experience that builds a wide range of hireable skills.
National recognition and potential prizes for your school.
Opportunities to collaborate with local businesses and employers.
Access to curated online resources and a network of experts.

Prizes and Sponsors

Up to five finalists will receive an equal share of the following prize pool: 

Finalist prizes
  • $25,000
  • 10 LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Core Sets 
  • 10 XinaBox kits
  • Five Arduino kits 
  • Five Club for the Future Space Mail kits 
  • Arduino
  • Blue Origin
  • Chevron
  • EnduroSat
  • LEGO Education
  • Magnitude.io
  • MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative
  • XinaBox


Phase 1: Mission design

August – December, 2020

Teams will be able to use the resource hub, a curated collection of virtual resources, as they develop and submit their mission proposals. No in-person collaboration or prior experience with CubeSats is required.

The deadline for mission proposals was 5:59 p.m. ET on Friday, October 16, 2020. 

Schools that submit mission proposals will receive downloadable certificates, and eligible schools will be featured on the challenge website.

Based on mission proposals, up to five finalists will be selected to receive prizes and an invitation to participate in Phase 2.

Phase 2: Mission build and launch

January – May 2021

Finalists will receive mentorship and additional virtual resources as they build CubeSat prototypes and plan flight events to launch their prototypes. 

Following the flight event, each finalist will submit a flight report. At the end of Phase 2, winners may be selected from the group of finalists based on submitted flight reports. 

The Department understands that due to current conditions, schools will need flexibility to safely collaborate when designing and building prototypes during the challenge. The Department looks forward to the creative solutions in the mission proposals it receives as challenge entries.


A cube satellite, or CubeSat, is a standardized small satellite that was invented with students in mind. This hands-on education tool can house a variety of sensors, cameras, and other instruments and can conduct a wide range of experiments (“missions”) in orbit — from identifying and tracking wild animal herds to gathering atmospheric data for weather prediction. In the process of building a CubeSat, students learn creative, collaborative, and technical skills.


Students need more opportunities to make, break, and learn by doing. Building a CubeSat prototype gives students permission to experiment with select elements of the development and launch process. CubeSat prototypes are the best way to start learning about CubeSats because they have: 

  • Less testing, technical, and regulatory requirements to meet. 
  • More accessible material options — from balsa wood to plastic.  
  • Many creative ways to launch, including but not limited to tethered balloons, high-altitude balloons, drones, amateur rockets, or small aircrafts.
  • Shorter timelines for building, testing, and launching.


The deadline for mission proposals was 5:59 p.m. ET on Friday, October 16, 2020.

You can listen to federal leaders discuss career pathways on Wednesday, October 28.