AFA’s StellarXplorers Announces National Champions

April 27, 2019 – The Air Force Association’s (AFA) StellarXplorers program – the National High School Space Challenge – announced the National Champions of its fifth National Finals Competition held April 11-13, 2019 at the Space Foundation  Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Of the original 216 teams from across the nation and two overseas locations, and after four rounds of competition, the top ten teams made it to the National Finals. The “Jets” of James Clemens High School (Madison, Alabama) were named the 2019 National Champions after a rigorous week competing to define orbits, spacecraft components, and launch vehicles to meet a set of mission requirements. “Tahsin Machine” of Great Mills High School (Great Mills, Maryland) took second place; “LANTZ” from Bergen County Technical High School (Teterboro, New Jersey) placed third.

“AFA is thrilled that each year the StellarXplorers National Finals Competition brings even greater excitement and passion from our brilliant competitors,” said AFA President, retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright. “We stand in amazement as our students gain more skills applicable in STEM fields. The partnerships we have formed with our sponsors continue to have a great impact on STEM education, and we thank them for their support.”

After an intense eight-hour competition, the teams were required to present a scored briefing to a panel of experts and take a quiz to determine the extent of their understanding of space.

“The caliber of our competitors continues to astound me,” said Stephen K. Gourley, StellarXplorers program director. “Once again, the winning team exceeded the maximum score even the space-seasoned judges thought possible. Many of the competitors are headed to MIT, CalTech, and other prestigious schools – we wish them all the best.”

United Launch Alliance (ULA) and the USAF STEM Program jointly awarded $31,000 in educational grants to the teams of StellarXplorers V. Grants are awarded to each member of the first place, runner-up, and third place teams.

StellarXplorers is an AFA program aimed at inspiring students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields using space system engineering as the means. To date, almost half of the participants are under-represented minorities; over a third are female, a testament to the exciting and engaging nature of space and the competition. This past season, Harris Foundation, USAF STEM, ULA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, DynCorp Int’l, and SpaceX sponsored the competition, along with the Educational Alliance of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), Space Foundation, and Coyote Enterprises Inc. (CEI).

Registration is currently open on the website to teams of 12- to 18-year-old students for the sixth season (2019-2020 academic year) with Finals to be held in Houston, TX. To learn more about this program, visit StellarXplorers‘ website.