Student rocket competition aiming higher

Student rocket competition aiming higher

March 12, 2014


They may not be NASA scientists, but they are doing work just as if they are.


Student teams from 26 colleges and universities in 16 states and Puerto Rico are designing and launching rockets and payloads as part of the 2013-14 NASA Student Launch rocketry competition. The students will launch their rockets May 15-17 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where they will undergo a rigorous launch readiness review, just like actual NASA flight missions, before the launch competition.


"This new engineering competition ties participating students' work to NASA's pursuit of new, more demanding missions," said William Gerstenmaier of NASA. "Giving these students exposure to building and launching model rockets to 20,000 feet allows them to recognize the challenges in pushing new limits."7-studetlaunch4.jpg


The student rocketry challenge is an evolution of the NASA Student Launch projects, which for 12 years challenged students to build rockets of their own design capable of flying 1 mile high. This latest competition reaches for even greater heights — taking student-built vehicles more than 3 miles high into the troposphere.


Another new feature of this competition is the requirement that the teams build their vehicles with a parachute-based recovery system and provide three payloads capable of delivering data that could shape future NASA missions.


Of the three payloads, one is mandatory for all teams: a landing hazard detection system, including a camera and customized software to transmit real-time information about surface conditions to operators on the ground. The teams will select the other two payloads from a list of options, all of which support NASA spacecraft development challenges.


Teams must predict the maximum flight altitude of their vehicle based on the research needs of their payloads. No rocket may fly higher than 20,000 feet.


In addition, each team must prepare detailed preliminary and post-launch reports, and build and maintain a public website about their work. Teams will be judged on their successful launch and payload deployment, as well as the thoroughness of supporting documentation. The winning team will receive a $5,000 prize provided by the challenge’s corporate sponsor, ATK Aerospace Group.


Click to view the participating teams or to visit individual team websites, such as the University of North Dakota Frozen Fury, Arizona State University Daedalus, or the University of Florida Rocket Team.