Here is a report on the NASA Student Launch competition, which includes middle school through college level teams, which took place last week. (I included videos posted by some of the teams.)

NASA Announces Preliminary Award Winners
for 2017 Student Launch

After a day of rocket launches during the 2017 Student Launch, NASA announced the challenge’s preliminary winners April 8 at an awards ceremony hosted by Orbital ATK Aerospace Group of Promontory, Utah, at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Fifty middle and high school, college and university teams from 23 states launched their student-built rockets at Bragg Farms in Toney, Alabama, near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Participating in the Student Launch challenge, student teams demonstrated advanced aerospace and engineering skills as they launched their rockets to an altitude of 1 mile, deployed an automated parachute system and landed the rocket safely for reuse.

The University of Notre Dame won the 2017 Student Launch Altitude Award in the college division with an altitude of 5,286 feet, only 6 feet above challenge’s 1-mile goal. Notre Dame’s launch was the closest to the goal in Student Launch’s 17-year history. Credits: NASA/MSFC/Fred Deaton

The event was the culmination of eight months of work for students, during which the teams built and tested their rockets and completed a series of technical reviews mirroring criteria in NASA’s engineering design lifecycle and safety protocol.

Now in its 17th year, Student Launch included a visit from NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, a member of the International Space Station’s Expedition 48/49 crew; a behind-the-scenes tour of Marshall facilities; and a rocket fair, where students showcased their rocket designs to NASA team members, corporate sponsor Orbital ATK and the public.

Fifty student teams competed in NASA’s Student Launch April 8, near the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Teams from 23 states launched their student-built rockets from Bragg Farms in Toney, Alabama. [Larger image] Credits: NASA/MSFC/Charles Beason

Marshall’s Academic Affairs Office manages Student Launch, to further NASA’s major education goal of attracting and encouraging students to pursue degrees and careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. NASA’s Office of Education and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, as well as Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division and the Huntsville chapter of the National Space Club, provide funding and leadership for the initiative.

2017 Student Launch Preliminary Award Winners

  • Best Vehicle Design Award, presented to the team with the most creative, innovative and safety-conscious overall rocket design: University of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Safety Award, presented to the team that most successfully maximized safety and science value in their design: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • Project Review Award: presented to the team with the best combination of written reviews and formal presentations: Cornell University
  • Education Engagement Award, presented to the team that best informed others about rocketry and other space-related topics:
    Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Altitude Award (College Division), presented to the college or university team that came closest the target altitude of 5,280 feet (one mile) above ground level: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana — 5,286 feet
  • Altitude Award (Middle/High School Division), presented to the middle or high school team that came closest the target altitude of 5,280 feet (1 mile) above ground level: Krueger Middle School, San Antonio, Texas — 5,325 feet
  • Payload Design Award, presented to the team with the most creative, and innovative payload design while maximizing safety and science value: Vanderbilt University
  • Best Website Award (College Division), presented to the college or university team with the best, most efficient website:
    Auburn University, Alabama
  • Best Website Award (Middle/High School Division), presented to the middle or high school team with the best, most efficient website: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics of Orange County, Irvine, California
  • Rocket Fair Display Award (College Division), presented to the college or university team that is judged by their peers to have had the best display at the Student Launch Rocket Fair: Vanderbilt University
  • Rocket Fair Display Award (Middle/High School Division), presented to the middle or high school team that is judged by their peers to have had the best display at the Student Launch Rocket Fair: McKinney High School, Texas
  • Best Looking Rocket Award (College Division), presented to the college or university team that is judged by their peers to have had the best looking rocket: Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
  • Best Looking Rocket Award (Middle/High School Division), presented to the middle or high school team that is judged by their peers to have had the best looking rocket: Engineering and Technologies Academy at Roosevelt School, San Antonio, Texas
  • Team Spirit Award (College Division), presented to the college or university team that is judged by their peers to have had the best team spirit on launch day: U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
  • Team Spirit (Middle/High School Division), presented to the middle or high school team that is judged by their peers to have had the best team spirit on launch day: Engineering and Technologies Academy at Roosevelt School
  • Judges’ Choice Award, presented to the middle or high school team that is selected by a secret panel of judges to have had the most creative payload, best design and workmanship of their rocket and best engagement with the rocket fair crowd. This includes a $2,000 prize from the National Space Club: Northern Illinois Home School Association, Montgomery, Illinois

The overall winners of Student Launch will be announced in early May, as the final calculations are still under review for accuracy. This will include the first- through third-place teams, as well as the rookie award winner, with the first-place winner receiving a $5,000 prize from sponsor Orbital ATK and the second-place winner receiving a $2,500 prize from the National Space Club.

For more information about NASA’s Student Launch, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/studentlaunch

Archived launch-day footage is available on Marshall’s Ustream account: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc