For the second year in a row, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte won the Launch Division, while Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas won first place in the 2022 Design Division. from NASA. Student launch rocket competition. NASA announced the winners during a live virtual ceremony.
Each year, NASA challenges middle school, high school, college, and university students from across the United States to design, build, and launch a high-powered amateur rocket, flying it at altitudes between 4,000 feet and 6 000 feet and make a successful landing.
“Programs like NASA’s Student Launch are part of a larger process to prepare a new generation of scientists, engineers, astronauts and explorers to take up the torch and carry out future missions. These students are the next generation – the Artemis generation,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy told the teams. “There are so many opportunities ahead of them, and they should be very proud of what they have achieved and learned in Student Launch. I encourage all of our participants to maintain a curiosity to learn and explore.
Sixty teams from 22 states, including Puerto Rico, participated in this year’s competition, with 27 teams launching April 23 near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Teams that did not travel were allowed to conduct their final test flights at a home launch field.
“We were thrilled for both the teams who were able to join us for Huntsville’s first launch since 2019 and those who launched from home ground,” said Fred Kepner, Education Program Specialist and activity manager for Student Launch at Marshall. “The teams’ ability to adapt and fly from wherever best suited their situation was another sign of their innovative spirit and drive to succeed.”
Teams from the college/university division have tackled a new task that mirrors NASA missions like the Mars Curiosity Rover. The teams had to design a payload capable of autonomously locating where their rocket had landed by identifying the rocket’s grid position on an aerial image of the launch site while transmitting the data to their ground station. This had to be accomplished without the use of GPS. The requirement simulates a challenge faced by NASA mission managers – communicating with spacecraft and payloads on distant planetary bodies, where the use of GPS is not an option. Middle and high school teams could choose to take the college/university split challenge or develop their own scientific or technical experience.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte will receive $5,000 for first place in the launch division, and Tarleton State University will receive $2,500 for first place in the design division.
The top five teams in the Launch Division are:
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
- Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
- University of Florida, Gainesville
- Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
The top two teams in the design division are:
- Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas
- New York University
Teams earned points for their progress and success over the nine-month competition, and the team with the most points won. Awards were also presented in several categories, including AIAA Rookie, Judge’s Choice, AIAA Vehicle Design, Experiment Design, AIAA Launch Division Payload Design, Safety, Project Review (launch and design divisions), AIAA Reusable Launch Vehicle, STEM Engagement, Altitude, 3D Printing, social media, the most beautiful rocket and team spirit.
For more than 20 years, Student Launch has provided students with a realistic experience that resembles the development, testing, and operational lifecycle that NASA and industry engineers use when developing and operating new hardware. Marshall is hosting the student launch, and NASA’s STEM Engagement Regional Office Southeast is managing the event, which is one of the agency’s events Artemis Student Challenges. These activities drive innovation and advance NASA’s human exploration mission through collaboration with educational institutions and students – the Artemis Generation, which will help NASA explore the Moon and Mars. NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate and Office of STEM Engagement, along with Northrop Grumman, are providing funding and leadership for the initiative.