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Satnews Daily
April 22nd, 2016

Liftoff at NASA's 16th Annual Student Launch Challenge

One of dozens of high-powered rockets lifts off on April 16, 2016, during NASA's 16th annual Student Launch challenge, which was held near Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, from April 13-16.

Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/Charles Beason.

Nearly 50 middle and high school, college and university teams from 22 states competed in the challenge, demonstrating advanced aerospace and engineering skills related to real-world activities and programs on NASA's Journey to Mars. Teams spent the past eight months building and testing rockets designed to fly to an altitude of one mile, deploy an automated parachute system, and land safe enough for reuse, while other teams also designed scientific payloads for data collection during flight.

Preliminary winners for Student Launch were announced during an awards ceremony April 16, at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, and hosted by Orbital ATK. The overall winners of Student Launch will be announced in early May, as the final calculations are still under review for accuracy.

The announced winners are:

  • Best Vehicle Design Award: Cornell University of Ithaca, New York, with the most creative, innovative and safety-conscious overall rocket design
  • Safety Award: University of Louisville in Kentucky, for maximizing safety and science value in their design
  • Project Review Award: Vanderbilt University of Nashville, Tennessee, with the best combination of written reviews & formal presentations
  • Education Engagement Award: Citrus College of Glendora, California, best informed others about rocketry & other space-related topics
  • Altitude Award: University of Florida in Gainesville, for coming closest to the target altitude of 5,280 feet above ground level
  • Altitude Award: (Middle/High School Division): Plantation High School – Team One, of Plantation, Florida, for coming closest to the target altitude of 5,280 feet above ground level
  • Payload Design Award: Vanderbilt University, with the most creative, and innovative payload design while maximizing safety and science value.
  • Best Website Award (College Division): University of Louisville, with the best, most efficient website.
  • Best Website Award (Middle/High School Division): Jordan High School of Durham, North Carolina, with the best, most efficient website.
  • Rocket Fair Display Award (College Division): Madison West High School - Team Martian of Madison, Wisconsin
  • Rocket Fair Display Award: Krueger Middle School of San Antonio, Texas
  • Best Looking Rocket Award (College Division): University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
  • Best Looking Rocket Award (Middle/High School Division): Krueger Middle School of San Antonio, Texas
  • Team Spirit Award (College Division): Auburn University of Auburn, Alabama.
  • Team Spirit (Middle/High School Division): Krueger Middle School of San Antonio, Texas


The Student Launch Teams included...

  • Alabama A&M University, Normal, Alabama
  • Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
  • Citrus College, Glendora, California
  • Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
  • University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama
  • University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • University of California, Davis, California
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
  • University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
  • University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama
  • University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio
  • Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
  • Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania
  • Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee


Student Launch Teams—with MAV Component

  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
  • University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
  • California State University, Long Beach, California
  • Florida International University, Miami, Florida
  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
  • University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
  • Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
  • University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
  • Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Madison West High School, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Fresno Rocket Works, Fresno, California


Middle School & High Schools

  • First Baptist Youth Group, Manchester, Connecticut
  • Hart County 4-H, Munfordville, Kentucky
  • Ingraham High School, Seattle, Washington
  • Krueger Middle School, San Antonio, Texas
  • Jordan High School, Durham, North Carolina
  • Madison West High School, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Northview Engineering-Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania, Ohio
  • Russellville High School, Russellville, Alabama
  • Plantation High School (New Team), Plantation, Florida
  • Plantation High School (Returning Team), Plantation, Florida
  • Spring Grove Area High School -- Team Tesla, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania
  • Spring Grove Area High School -- Team Darwin, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania
  • St. Vincent -- St. Mary High School, Akron, Ohio
  • Western High School, Davie, Florida


Team members from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, carry their rocket to the launch pad during the 16th annual Student Launch challenge, April 16, near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Photo credit: NASA/MSFC/Tony Triolo.