Category Archives: Rocketry

Vanderbilt team takes top prize in NASA’s Student Launch Challenge

The results of this year’s  Student Launch Projects competition are in:

Vanderbilt Takes Top Prize in NASA Student Launch Challenge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Aerospace Club of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., took first prize in the 2013 annual NASA Student Launch Projects challenge, in which student teams design, build and fly small rockets with science payloads to an altitude of 1 mile and return them safely to Earth.

After two consecutive third-place finishes, Vanderbilt beat 35 other colleges and universities to win the $5,000 top prize, provided by ATK Aerospace Group of Promontory, Utah. The University of Louisville in Kentucky and Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, won second and third place, respectively, in the April 21 “launch fest” at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala., near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

After months of preparation, each team had an opportunity to launch its rocket and payload. NASA judges evaluated the rocket designs based on a series of technical design reviews, the results from the rocket’s flight including altitude, and the operation of the payload. The judges also evaluated each team’s written report and its outreach activities including a website documenting the experience and local educational engagement campaigns to share their enthusiasm for rocketry. The challenge seeks to inspire younger students to pursue technical learning fields, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“This program is a valuable tool for students and their teachers because they use all the knowledge gained in a classroom setting to tackle a real-world challenge,” said Tammy Rowan, manager of Marshall’s Academic Affairs Office, which manages the rocketry challenge. “They stretch those STEM skills to create a complex machine, which could lead them to a future in the aerospace industry. Plus, their enthusiasm when they finally see their creations fly is inspirational to those who already work in the many different aspects of space exploration.”
In addition to the top prize, the Vanderbilt University team also took home the Best Payload Design for the most creative and innovative payload experiment.

Third-place Tarleton State also won three additional recognitions: the Rookie Award; the Science Mission Directorate Payload Award for most creative and innovative payload design while maximizing safety and science value; and the Best Team Spirit prize, a peer award voted on by all the rocket teams.

Alabama A&M University in Huntsville won the Altitude Award for coming closest to the 1-mile mark without going over — only 11 feet shy of 5,280 feet above ground.

The University of Louisville team won three awards: Best Vehicle Design for the most creative, innovative and safety-conscious rocket; Best Web Design; and the Education Engagement Award. The team from Mississippi State University in Starkville won the Project Review Award for their reviews and formal presentations and also finished in fifth place overall. The student teams voted the University of Nebraska in Lincoln as winner of this year’s Best-Looking Rocket.

NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Science Mission Directorate and Office of Education, all in Washington, sponsor the Student Launch Projects challenge. ATK provides corporate sponsorship. The National Association of Rocketry provides technical review and launch support.

Hundreds of flight enthusiasts cheered the student rocketeers at the launch site. More than 8,000 individual viewers also watched the event live on Marshall’s UStream channel. Archived launch-day coverage is available at

For complete lists of participating students, visit:

Visit NASA Student Launch Projects on Facebook and Twitter: and

For more information about NASA education projects, visit:

Video: A day at the FAR Mojave test site

The Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) posted the video below showing highlights of activities at their Mojave test site on Saturday May, 4th. These activities included:

 the launch of a high power sugar fueled rocket and the first successful static firing of a 6″ rocket motor for the Sugar Shot to Space project (the previous two motor tests resulted in CATOs.

12th Annual NASA Student Launch Initiative competition in Alabama this week

NASA says that “more than 600 students, representing 56 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities in 26 states, will” participate in the 12th annual Student Launch Initiative, this Saturday in Toney, Alabama:

Here is a list of the teams: NASA Student Launch Projects

The event will be webcast at NASA MSFC on USTREAM: Science.

SEDS Rocketry Challenge

SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) is sponsoring a rocket contest: 2013 High Power Rocketry Challenge -SEDS

The SEDS Rocketry Challenge returns for 2013. This year teams are challenged with designing, building, and flying a rocket from the ground up that can carry a 3.0 pound (1.36kg) payload to 10,000 ft. as quickly as possible.

A new component this year charges teams with carrying a payload of scientific and technical value. Teams are encouraged to design a payload that will carry back valuable scientific data or tackles a technical challenge. All teams that compete will have a chance to present their rocket, payload, and findings at SpaceVision 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.

Teams will be scored on three primary goals:

  • Reaching an altitude 10,000 ft (3,050m)AGL while carrying a 3.0lb (1.36kg) payload*
  • Time to altitude
  • Carrying an innovative scientific and technical payload

A letter of intent is due by Friday, March 1, 2013. Teams may enter the competition up until Monday, April 8th, when the design report is due. Please submit your letter of intent to the competition coordinator, Chris Ogden, at

Key Dates:

  • April 8, 2013 : Design Report Due
  • May 31, 2013 : Build Report Due
  • September 2, 2013 :  Launch Deadline
  • September 6, 2013 : Launch Report Deadline

Winners of the SEDS 2013 High Power Rocketry Challenge will be announced at SpaceVision 2013 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

The project is currently seeking sponsors for awards to the top teams. If you are interested please contact for more information.

For more information, please see the following documentation:

SEDS 2013 Rocketry Challenge

Australian ASLI rockets to carry student payloads

A reader points me to the Australian advanced rocketry group  Academic Space Launch Initiative (ASLI), which was profiled in an Moreton Bay newpaper: Candles and chemicals mixed to launch rockets into space in Academic Space Launch Initiative project – The Courier-Mail – Jan.19.13.

The organization, formed by Wayne Tayor and Jamie Anderson, seeks to provide rides to high altitudes for payloads designed and built by university students .

Here’s a blog post about one of the recent ASLI rocket tests: ASLI Completes First Demonstration Flight Of Educational Payload Rocket. – ASLI 2010 – Dec.5.12