Category Archives: Rocketry

Spaceport America Cup – Collegiate rocket competition in New Mexico, June 20-24, 2017

The Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA) and Spaceport America (near Las Cruces, New Mexico ) are sponsoring the Spaceport America Cup university student rocket competition, which will take place at the spaceport over June 20-24, 2017:

The Spaceport America Cup is designed around IREC – the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition for student rocketry teams from all over the country and around the world. With over 110 teams from colleges and universities in eleven countries, 2017 will be the competition’s biggest year yet. Students will be launching solid, liquid, and hybrid rockets to target altitudes of 10,000 and 30,000 feet.

In addition to the competition rocket launches, the interns at United Launch Alliance will be firing off their big rocket: United Launch Alliance Announces Payloads to Fly on World’s Largest Sport Rocket – 53-Foot-Tall Futu – ULA.

Sixteen payloads from K-12 schools and educational organizations throughout Colorado have been confirmed to fly on United Launch Alliance’s Future Heavy intern rocket this summer. The 53-foot-tall, high-power sport rocket launch will take place at Spaceport America, New Mexico, on Saturday, June 24, during its annual Spaceport America Cup International Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition in association with ESRA the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association.

Since 2009, ULA has teamed up with Ball Aerospace to offer its interns a real-world space industry experience by launching rockets and payloads (onboard instruments/experiments deployed after launch) they volunteer to build during their internships.

Update: Some articles about the event:

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2017 NASA Student Launch competition results

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

RocketSTEM Magazine – March 2017

The latest issue of the RocketSTEM magazine is now available:  Issue #14 • March 2017 – RocketSTEM –

We’re launching another issue of RocketSTEM to celebrate the start of our organization’s fifth year. While half a decade has been quite a journey for us, it is nothing compared to the 50-plus-year history of Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. From racing the Russians to the Moon during the Apollo program, through the construction of the International Space Station during the Space Shuttle program, and now the most recent launch of the Falcon 9 rocket by SpaceX, the world-famous launch pad has quite a story to tell. Speaking of SpaceX, the private space firm is also preparing to launch its biggest ever rocket – the Falcon Heavy – from Pad 39A later this year. But the company’s founder, Elon Musk, is already laying the groundwork for an even bigger rocket – the Interplanetary Transport System – that will allow humanity to colonize Mars and explore even further out into the solar system. In the meantime, a fleet of orbiters and rovers from three space agencies are busy checking out the Red Planet, while NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been been analyzing a dwarf planet named Ceres.

All that – and more – in this issue of RocketSTEM magazine.

And, as always, every issue remains free to read online or download as a PDF.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Exploring Mars – Eight rovers and orbiters from three space agencies are at the Red Planet.

Helo, Mars! – Learn to compute flight data for the proposed Mars Helicopter Scout.

Historic Pad 39A – The launch pad has been America’s gateway to space for five decades.

Falcon Heavy – SpaceX is gearing up to debut its new rocket later this year.

SpaceX goes bigger – The Interplanetary Transport System may open up the solar system to exploration.

Dawn’s harvest – Spacecraft has been revealing secrets of Ceres, a dwarf planet.

Video: German student group launches hybrid powered rocket to 32 km

A German student rocketry group launched a sounding rocket powered by a hybrid motor (solid fuel, liquid oxidizer) to over 32 kilometers last November: HyEnD – Hybrid Engine Development (Link via Commercial Space Blog) –

On Tuesday 8th November 2016, 10:30 LT, -18°C: our Hybrid sounding rocket HEROS 3 rocket was launched from ESRANGE, Kiruna [Sweden]. At almost perfect weather conditions and great visibility it reached an apogee of 32.3 km according to GPS and acceleration data and was successfully recovered with the drogue and main parachute being released. This sets a new record for European student and amateur rocketry. Furthermore, to our knowledge this is also a new altitude world rocket for hybrid rockets built by students. The maximum speed of HEROS 3 was 2600 km/h with a Mach number of 2.3. The hybrid rocket engine delivers 10 kN of thrust with a paraffin-based fuel and Nitrous Oxide as the oxidizer.

Video: ‘Rockets Up, Up and Away!’ – NASA student launch competition

Here is some video of rockets flying at the NASA Student Launch competition, which took place last week:

On April 16, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center hosted the 16th annual Student Launch competition in Huntsville, Alabama. During the event student-designed and built rockets were launched in an effort to reach an altitude of one mile, deploy an automated parachute system, and safely land to be recovered. The competition gives young aspiring engineers a chance to test their high-flying creations and a shot at a $5,000 cash prize. NASA hosts this and other events like it to engage students across the country in the agency’s Journey to Mars through hands-on activities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).