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A look back at the SEEDS XII project

Published on

3 Feb 2021

The SEEDS project was supported in 2020 by the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation in the “extracurricular project” category.

The team, composed of 25 international students, worked on using the Moon as a test bed for human and manned exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan.


The SEEDS Project, SpacE Exploration and Development Systemsis an international program that results from a partnership between the universities of Politecnico di Torino (Italy), the University of Leicester (United Kingdom) and theISAE-SUPAERO (France) with the support of theESA.

The students of these three universities are grouped together during three different phases, namely two months in Turin, two months in Toulouse and two months in Leicester. This year in 2020, they were 25 students representing 6 nationalities and they studied the use of the Moon as a test bed for human and manned exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan. At the end of the six months of work, a final presentation in front of ESA members took place on October 29, 2020 in remote.

The SEEDS XII edition was disrupted by the current health crisis as students were unable to travel to Italy and the UK. However, the Toulouse phase was an opportunity to meet and work face-to-face in the ISAE-SUPAERO and CNES premises. Thus, the final review of this phase took place at CNES in July 2020.


The whole of the work carried out made it possible to establish a program of space exploration over several decades, by using initially the Moon and its resources for long-lasting manned missions. Subsequently, the journey from the Moon to Titan was established with a trajectory and a spacecraft designed during the Toulouse phase.

Finally, the use of Titan was developed in the last part. The initial objectives were updated as the project progressed, which allowed the initial problem to be addressed.

In addition, the diversity of student backgrounds was an asset in designing such a project. Part of the program is also non-technical as it consists of learning how to manage a project. In our case, communication was not easy since a good part of the project was done remotely and we had to learn to work together without meeting for several months. This meant that we had to adapt. Out of all the students involved, the 14 representatives of ISAE-SUPAERO benefited from the scholarship. This money was used to pay the rents of our respective accommodations for six months as well as possible travel to and from Toulouse for those who were confined in another city.

In the end, the SEEDS project was able to overcome the difficulties encountered and successfully complete the project, both from a technical and human point of view. In parallel, we also presented their work at the IAC, International Astronautical Congress, by writing three papers.

Also, in order to make the SEEDS project known internationally, the students wrote two articles based on the direct results of their work and gathered in two themes: the installation of a test infrastructure on the lunar soil and the design of a robotic mission on one of the moons of Saturn.

Here are the articles published about the project on the websites of the Institute and the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation:

The team shared its adventures with the SEEDS XIII students, who are taking over the torch, whose theme should be close to that of 2020.Other papers will be written by the team, in view of IAC 2021 or other aerospace conferences, in order to be able to present the whole results of SEEDS XII.

Thank you from the whole team!

We would like to thank the ISAE-SUPAERO Foundation for their support in the SEEDS XII project. Despite the current events, the project was very rich in experience for all and we hope that it will be the same for future editions of the SEEDS program.