United Launch Alliance Adds New Partners For Annual Student Rocket Launch

The Future Heavy rocket. Image Credit: United Launch Alliance

July 16, 2019 – Two new partners are joining United Launch Alliance (ULA) in an annual event designed to inspire the next generation of rocket scientists, engineers and space entrepreneurs. RUAG Space and Airborne Systems will provide flight components for the Future Heavy Super Sport high-power sport rocket. The rocket, built by ULA interns and mentors, will launch at the 2019 Student Rocket Launch, sponsored by ULA and Ball Aerospace.

The Student Rocket Launch is a hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program for students ranging from kindergarten to graduate school that simulates a real-life launch campaign.

“The Student Rocket Launch provides a chance for students to experience what it’s like to work with rockets and payloads, and to learn how collaboration is critical to mission success,” said ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno. “It’s an honor to work with RUAG Space and Airborne Systems, companies who support critical space missions, to help us inspire the next generation of aerospace industry leaders.”

The event features the launch of the 35-foot-tall Future Heavy Super Sport, which will carry nearly 30 payloads built by interns at Ball Aerospace and teams of K-12 students from across the country. This year’s event will take place July 20, selected in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, at Fort Carson Army Post south of Colorado Springs.

RUAG Space, the world’s leading independent space product supplier, will provide an aerospace-grade 0.7-meter-diameter carbon composite rocket payload fairing — from RUAG’s FlexLine product portfolio — for the Future Heavy Super Sport. FlexLine is a collection of standardized launch structure products designed for the small satellite launch vehicle industry. A 0.7-meter staging module connected to the payload fairing will separate the fairing from the staging module during descent to allow release of the payloads. RUAG Space manufactures fairings and other components for ULA’s Atlas V rocket and is the exclusive supplier of composite structures for ULA’s next-generation rocket, the Vulcan Centaur.

“STEM education is an important focus for RUAG Space and this particular event is an outstanding example of how the space industry can come together to help inspire our future leaders and employees,” said RUAG Space CEO Dr. Peter Guggenbach. “We are very proud to have our RUAG Space Flexline fairing used for this project as its first test flight.”

Airborne Systems is donating a system containing two parachutes that will slow and stabilize the rocket as it descends. A pilot parachute will deploy as the rocket reaches its peak altitude of 5,000 feet above the ground. Seconds later, the main parachute will deploy.

“This year Airborne Systems is commemorating our 100th year in business, and we cannot think of a better way to celebrate than to support the future bright minds of our aerospace industry,” said Ben Tutt, Airborne Systems space and recovery principle design analyst. “The passion, dedication, and grit demonstrated by the interns and students involved in this rocket launch reflect the same qualities that our founder Leslie Irvin displayed when he performed the world’s first intentional freefall parachute jump 100 years ago.”