United Launch Alliance Issues Call For Student Rocket Launch Payloads

January 25, 2020 – United Launch Alliance (ULA) is inviting the next generation of rocket scientists to submit payload proposals for the annual Student Rocket Launch, which will take place this summer.

The Student Rocket Launch is ULA’s signature science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) enrichment program. The event gives students from kindergarten through graduate school hands-on experience designing, engineering, analyzing and building payloads that will launch on a high-power sport rocket.

Each summer, intern volunteers from ULA work together on their own time to build and refurbish a rocket, dubbed the “Future Heavy Super Sport,” which carries payloads (devices, objects, experiments, instruments and etc.) built by K-12 students from across the country and interns from Ball Aerospace.

“The Student Rocket Launch showcases the curiosity, determination and teamwork it takes to turn an idea into a successful launch campaign,” said ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno. “This is a great way for ULA and Ball Aerospace to inspire and mentor future industry leaders who will shape the evolution of aerospace.”

This year’s Student Rocket Launch will honor the upcoming NASA Mars 2020 mission, which will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket this summer. Students who wish to compete for prizes are invited to design their own rovers that will launch to roughly 5,000 feet aboard the Future Heavy Super Sport. The payloads will fall under parachute and navigate toward a ground-based target. Non-competing teams may also design payloads to fly on the 35-foot-tall sport rocket.

“Launching payloads on the Future Heavy Super Sport enables students to solve real world engineering problems,” said Rob Strain, president of Ball Aerospace. “It has become a highlight of our interns’ summer and we are excited to be participating in the launch with the K-12 students once again.”

Payloads are objects, experiments or instruments launched on and deployed (if desired) from the rocket. A payload can be almost anything a team can create within the provided guidelines. Past payloads have included everything from a class teddy bear dressed as an astronaut to rovers that teams drive after they land. There is no cost to the students or schools to fly payloads on the Future Heavy rocket, though they are responsible for the cost of materials, travel, etc.

ULA is now accepting payload proposals and will select up to 20 teams to participate in the navigation competition. Teams can download the request for proposal (RFP) at https://www.ulalaunch.com/explore/intern-rockets.

Interested teams should notify the ULA contact noted in the RFP of their interest as soon as possible; the deadline to submit proposals is Feb. 21, 2020.

Click here to watch highlights from the 2019 Student Rocket Launch, which honored the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.