NASA Announces Winners of 2021 Student Launch Competition

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., June 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — For the past nine months, 46 teams strived for success in NASA’s 2021…

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., June 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — For the past nine months, 46 teams strived for success in NASA’s 2021 Student Launch competition, one of NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges. Countless hours were poured into the design, simulation, construction, testing, and launch of rockets and payloads. On June 3, teams were awarded during a virtual ceremony, announcing the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as the winner of the Launch Division and New York University in New York City as the winner of the Design Division.

NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson welcomed teams to the ceremony, encouraging them to continue to pursue their academic interests beyond the competition. «This year’s challenge will hopefully serve as an inspiration for a lifetime of learning,» he said. «Someday it may be you designing a new spaceflight system or spacecraft or even a vehicle to land on another planet.» Nelson also gave a nod to the unique circumstances of competing during a year affected by the global pandemic. «This season wasn’t easy. It wasn’t normal. But you all succeeded despite the challenges. So congratulations to all of you for seeing this mission to completion.»

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Student Launch program team proactively designed the 2021 competition with provisions to allow for a virtual season. Teams were permitted to use multiple connections to attend all milestone review sessions, including the preliminary design, critical design, and flight readiness reviews – which alleviated the need for all team members to be in the same room or location during their presentations to the NASA review panel. Teams were not required to travel to Huntsville, Alabama, to complete the project and compete. Instead, they were permitted to complete their competition launch at a National Association of Rocketry or Tripoli Rocket Association-sanctioned launch in their respective local areas.

At the awards, Larry Leopard, Marshall’s associate director, technical, reminded students to «appreciate every moment when everything worked as planned, and learn from those times when they did not. Support each and every member of your team. Most importantly, never lose the sense of curiosity that leads you to ask the ‘what if’ questions.»

Every year, NASA challenges middle school, high school, college, and university students from around the United States to design, build, test, and then fly and land a high-powered amateur rocket to between 3,500 and 5,500 feet above the ground. The young rocketeers are challenged to «call their shot» and predict their rocket’s altitude months in advance of competition launch day using rocketry principles and computer simulations. Referred to as their «target altitude,» teams can tailor their altitude to maximize the return of scientific value from their payload, just like NASA teams target specific altitudes for their own missions.

This year, the college/university division’s payload mission was a lander that deploys from the rocket during descent. The lander must land upright or contain a system to upright itself. The lander must level itself to within 5 degrees of vertical and then take a 360-degree panoramic image of the location and transmit the image back to the team. Teams in the middle/high school division could choose the college/university division payload or propose their own scientific or engineering experiment to perform.

«We are all aware of how difficult this season has been,» said Fred Kepner, an education program specialist and lead for Student Launch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where the program is managed. «Though we were not able to celebrate these achievements in person, we are proud of the resilience shown by each of our competing teams.»

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte will receive $5,000 for first place in the Launch Division, and New York University will receive $2,500 for first place in the Design Division.

The top five teams in the Launch Division are:

  1. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  2. Vanderbilt University
  3. University of Notre Dame
  4. Purdue University
  5. North Carolina State University

The top three teams in the Design Division are:

  1. New York University
  2. University of California, Los Angeles
  3. The Ohio State University

Teams earn points for progress and successes during the nine-month competition, and the team with the most points wins. Awards also are presented in 12 different categories that range from payload design and safety to best social media presence and STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – outreach.

2021 Category Award Winners

Rookie Award, presented to the top rookie team on the college and university level:

  • 1st Place: Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri
  • 2nd Place: New York University, New York, New York
  • 3rd Place: University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota

Judges’ Choice Award (Middle/High School Level), presented to the middle or high school team that is selected by a secret panel of judges to have had the most creative payload, best design and workmanship of its rocket.

  • 1st Place: Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania, Ohio
  • 2nd Place: Harrison Central School District, Harrison, New York
  • 3rd Place: Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Chicago, Illinois

Vehicle Design Award (Design Division), presented to the team with the most creative, innovative and safety-conscious overall rocket design:

  • 1st Place: University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

Experiment Design Award (Design Division), presented to the team with the most creative and innovative payload design while maximizing safety and science value:

  • 1st Place: The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Experiment Design Award (Launch Division), presented to the team with the most creative and innovative payload design while maximizing safety and science value:

  • 1st Place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 2nd Place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 3rd Place: Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Safety Award (College Level, any division), presented to the team that most successfully maximized safety and science value in its design:

  • 1st Place: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
  • 2nd Place: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • 3rd Place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina

Project Review Award (Design Division), presented to the team with the best combination of written reviews and formal presentations:

  • 1st Place: New York University, New York, New York

Project Review Award (Launch Division), presented to the team with the best combination of written reviews and formal presentations:

  • 1st Place: California State University, Long Beach, California
  • 2nd Place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 3rd Place: Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

AIAA Reusable Launch Vehicle Award (Launch Division), presented to the team with the most creative, innovative, and well-constructed overall design while still maximizing safety and efficiency:

  • 1st Place: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • 2nd Place: Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
  • 3rd Place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

STEM Engagement Award (College Level, any division), presented to the team that best informed others about rocketry and other space-related topics:

  • 1st Place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 2nd Place: Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri 
  • 3rd Place: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

STEM Engagement Award (Middle/High School Level), presented to the team that best informed others about rocketry and other space-related topics.

  • 1st Place: Oakton High School, Vienna, Virginia
  • 2nd Place: Harrison Central School District, Harrison, New York
  • 3rd Place: Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania, Ohio

Altitude Award (College Level, Launch Division), presented to the college or university team that comes closest to its declared target altitude on as recorded in their Flight Readiness Review:

  • 1st Place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 2nd Place: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana
  • 3rd Place: The University of Texas at Arlington, Texas

Altitude Award (Middle/High School Level), presented to the middle or high school team that comes closest to its declared target altitude as recorded in their Flight Readiness Review:

  • 1st Place: Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania, Ohio
  • 2nd Place: Nativity Catholic Parish, Burke, Virginia
  • 3rd Place: Spring Grove Area High School, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania

Social Media Award (College Level, any division), presented to the college or university team that has the most active and creative social media presence throughout the project year:

  • 1st Place: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
  • 2nd Place: University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico
  • 3rd Place: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

Social Media Award (Middle/High School Level), presented to the middle or high school team that has the most active and creative social media presence throughout the project year:

  • 1st Place: Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania, Ohio
  • 2nd Place: Oakton High School, Vienna, Virginia
  • 3rd Place: Minster STEM Club, Minster, Ohio

Best-Looking Rocket Award (College Level, any division), presented to the college or university team that is judged by their peers to have had the best-looking rocket:

  • 1st Place: California State University, Long Beach, California
  • 2nd Place: Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
  • 3rd Place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Best-Looking Rocket Award (Middle/High School Level), presented to the middle or high school team that is judged by its peers to have had the best-looking rocket:

  • 1st Place: Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania, Ohio
  • 2nd Place: St. Vincent – St. Mary High School, Akron, Ohio
  • 3rd Place: Oakton High School, Vienna, Virginia

Team Spirit Award (College Level, any division), presented to the college or university team that is judged by its peers to have had the best team spirit:

  • 1st Place: Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
  • 2nd Place: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California
  • 3rd Place: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

Team Spirit (Middle/High School Level), presented to the middle or high school team that is judged by its peers to have had the best team spirit:

  • 1st Place: Harrison Central School District, Harrison, New York
  • 2nd Place: Madison West High School, Madison, Wisconsin
  • 3rd Place: Sylvania Northview High School, Sylvania, Ohio

For over 20 years, Student Launch has provided a realistic experience to students that resembles the development, test, and operational lifecycle NASA and industry engineers use when developing and operating new hardware. It is one of the seven Artemis Student Challenges.

Marshall’s Office of STEM Engagement manages Student Launch to stimulate innovation and advance NASA’s mission through collaboration with educational institutions and students – the next-generation that will help us explore the Moon and travel even farther to Mars. It also furthers NASA’s goal of attracting and encouraging students to pursue degrees and careers in the STEM fields. NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and the Office of STEM Engagement, as well as Northrop Grumman, the Huntsville chapter of the National Space Club, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the National Association of Rocketry, and Bastion Technologies provide funding and leadership for the initiative.

For more information about NASA’s Student Launch, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/education/studentlaunch 

For more information about NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/stem/artemis.html 

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SOURCE NASA