Promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields by recruiting and training the next generation of aerospace stakeholders.    

Unique NASA Opportunity to Launch Rockets (2014)

Registration Deadline: January 30, 2014
Launch Competition: April 25-26, 2014 (Rain date April 27)

Congratulations to last year's Regional Rocket Launch Competition Winners

First Place: Rocket Dogs, University of Minnesota - Duluth
Second Place: Team Orbit, Lorain County Community College
Third Place: Senior Design, University of Minnesota

The Minnesota Space Grant (MnSGC) and the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) announce the Regional Rocket Design Competition. This competition is an opportunity for students to design and construct rockets to be launched at a competition in the spring of 2014 in North Branch, MN. .

Up to twenty teams will be selected to take part in this competition. To qualify for the competition, interested teams of approximately four students should contact their State Space Grant Consortium (see list at end). Teams are allowed to seek advice from Industry, Tripoli, NAR, and others. Student teams will compete to design a one-stage, high-powered rocket that will accurately achieve an apogee of 3000 feet and be recovered safely and in flyable condition, to predict its flight performance, and to characterize its flight performance by more than one method. The competition will also include design analysis, oral presentation, and assessment of data results, scored by professional engineers from both academia and industry.


The mission of NASA's Space Grant Program is to contribute to the nation's science enterprise by funding education, research, and informal education projects through a national network of university-based Space Grant consortia. To carry out this mission, the Great Midwestern Space Grant Consortium and its individual state consortia sponsor a broad range of programs relevant to its mission and objectives.

Further information about the mission and objectives of each state may be found at that Space Grant’s home page:










It is the purpose of this Announcement of Opportunity to support the innovative, visionary projects that are student-led and designed to fully realize Space Grant’s goal of assisting in training the next generation of aerospace professionals.


All student teams must be sponsored by your State’s Space Grant. Any non-U.S. citizen team members, student or faculty, must bring that fact to the attention of their Space Grant for possible alternative funding. Each team will be required to have a committed faculty mentor and are allowed to seek advice/mentorship from Industry, Tripoli, NAR, and others. Graduate students are permitted to join a team but may not comprise the majority of the team members.

No experience is necessary to compete. Teams will be given the basic training and information required at a kick-off meeting shortly after selection.

Competition Engineering Parameters*

This year teams compete to design a payload that will capture the performance data of a one-stage rocket. Of key interest is the team’s ability to report the speed vs. altitude and acceleration vs. altitude from more than 1 type of measurement system, e.g. pitot probes, GPS, flight video. The team’s electronic deployment system may be used as one of the measurement system types if its altimeter is able to record flight data. In addition, flight performance ranking will include accuracy in predicting the latitude and longitude of the landing spot without using telemetry from observations made exclusively within 500 feet of the launch site before leaving to retrieve the rocket. Basic rocket parameters would include: (a) a 3000 ft. target altitude; (b) a motor chosen from the specified list; (c) dual-deploy, electronic recovery with motor ejection-charge backup. All structural components and materials must be obtained from reputable high-powered rocketry vendors, or an engineering analysis demonstrating their suitability must be included with the design.

Equipment provided by WSGC: 
Rocket Motor Each team must select one of the following Cesaroni motors
- 38 mm I540, J285, J316, J357
- 54 mm K400, K445, K454, K530
Flight recorder Raven III
(1.80" long x 0.8" wide x 0.55" thick and powered by a 9 v battery)
This is separate from the team's electronic deployment system and will be inserted at time of launch to record acceleration & altitude vs. time.
Rocket Limits Body Diameter
- Min Dia 4 inches
- Max Dia 6 inches
- Max length 84 inches

Additional details will be available in the competition handbook that will be made available.

Questions sent to Gary Stroick, Technical Director, at or the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium at will be answered on an individual basis and duplicate questions will be posted to a separate FAQ page.

Interested students with questions about the capabilities of the launch motors or seeking help in getting started are highly encouraged to contact Gary Stroick ( of Tripoli Minnesota Association (a high-power rocketry association); or a rocket association near them. Students interested in gaining information or experience by observing rocket launches are encouraged to contact Gary or to attend one of the regular rocket launches held in North Branch, MN by Tripoli or in their state. More information and launch schedules can be accessed at

and comparable websites elsewhere around the Midwest.

More specific engineering parameters will be addressed once the teams are selected.

*Should there be any change in the specifications of the rocket or motor(s) to be used, an amendment to this announcement will be released. However, the current heightened state of alert in the United States may require an adjustment in launch specifications at short notice. Teams are therefore encouraged to be flexible and adaptable.

Competition Scoring

The total score for each student team will be based on the following: 

Design report (provided prior to launch)


Presentation of design


Flight performance


Post-Flight Performance Evaluation


Design reports (including budget) will be judged by a panel of experts from aerospace and related fields (parameters of this report will be provided to participating teams upon selection). Students will also be required to give an oral presentation of their design report before the launch, including their predicted results for the accelerometer, and submit their rocket for a safety inspection. Determination of the score for flight performance will include the apogee nearest to 3000 feet. Subsequent to the flight, teams will be provided actual accelerometer results gathered in-flight for comparison to predicted results.

The competition includes an “Educational Outreach” element, in which each team shares information pertinent to aerospace with a group. For purposes of the competition, teams will be scored as "completed" or "not completed". Outreach possibilities could include but are not limited to:

• Meet with a K-12 class or student organization to explain how rockets work.
• Make a presentation in the community or to a group on campus to describe the rocket competition and your team’s design.
• Make a presentation to a group on campus describing opportunities at NASA or through the WSGC that are available to students before they graduate.

Details on how to document that the outreach requirement has been met will be available in the competition handbook. Teams that do not successfully complete the Educational Outreach and submit their EPO form will receive a 10% decrease in the team’s overall score.

Applying to the Program

Each State may have their own process of team selection. Please go to to find contact people from your state Space Grant.

Questions may be directed first to Gary Stroick and second to:

Program Office
Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Green Bay, WI 54311