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Spaceport America Cup 2017 Cup Team Photo

The world’s largest rocket engineering competition motivated university students from six continents to extend themselves beyond the classroom to design and build rockets. The students also learned to work as a team, solving real world problems under the same pressures they’ll experience in their future careers. Twenty two aerospace organizations were also in town to recruit from the 1,100 students in attendance.

United Launch Alliance Falcon Heavy soars into the sky on June 24, 2017


Over 8,000 viewers watched the live stream when the United Launch Alliance Future Heavy, the largest sport rocket in the world, successfully took off, reached it’s apogee and launched the 16 payloads onboard. The rocket was designed, built and launched by United Launch Alliance (ULA) interns and mentors.


After a full conference day with poster exhibitions and podium sessions, rocketeers spent the second day setting up base cup at Spaceport America’s vertical launch area.  After three days of non-stop launches and intense judging, the results were announced at Spaceport America Cup Awards Banquet.

Michael P. Moses, President Virgin Galactic and keynote speaker shared his career path at NASA in rocket propulsion inspiring students to remember that “mission control is really based on the foundations of integration and systems engineering.”

ESRA leaders, Space Dynamics Laboratory and Spaceport America presented the following awards in the following categories:

IREC Team Conduct Awards:
Team Spirit Award – Team 109 – Rowan University
Team Sportsmanship Award – Team 46 – Oregon State University

IREC Technical Excellence and Innovation Awards:
Charles Hoult Award for Modeling & Simulation – Team 58 – Texas A & M University
James Barrowman Award for Flight Dynamics – Team 41 – Missouri University of Science and Technology
Dr. Gil Moore Award for Innovation – Team 11 – école de technologie supérieure Montreal
Jim Furfaro Award for Technical Excellence – Team 96 – Waterloo University

Space Dynamics Laboratory Payload Challenge – there were over 40 payloads this year: Honorable Mention for incredible engineering research done at altitude – Team 9 – Concordia University
Honorable Mention for engineering design and fabulous manufacture of a quadcopter – McGill University
Third Place Award for Payload Competition – Team 56 – Southern Utah University
Second Place Award for Payload Competition – Team 59 – George Washington University
First Place Award for Payload Competition –  University of Victoria

Spaceport America Cup Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition Overview:
In general, student teams competing in the Spaceport America Cup: Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition
must design, build, and launch a rocket carrying no less than 8.8 lb of payload to a target apogee either 10,000 ft or
30,000 ft above ground level (AGL).  Projects were divided into one of the following six categories based on the type
of project attempted – defined by the target apogee and selected propulsion system:

10,000 ft AGL apogee with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solid or hybrid rocket propulsion system
First Prize- Team 70 – University of British Columbia
Second Prize- Team 35 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 30,000 ft AGL apogee with COTS solid or hybrid propulsion system
First Prize- Team 57 – Stanford University
Second Prize- Team 53 – Ryerson University

10,000 ft AGL apogee with student researched and developed (SRAD) solid rocket propulsion system
First Prize- Team 103 – West Virginia University
Second Prize- Team 41 – Missouri University of Science and Technology

30,000 ft AGL apogee with SRAD solid rocket propulsion system
First Prize- Team 61 – The Ohio State University
Second Prize- Team 69 – University of Arizona AIAA

10,000 ft AGL apogee with SRAD hybrid or liquid rocket propulsion system
First Prize- Team 96 – University of Waterloo
Second Prize- Team 58 – Texas A&M University

30, 000 ft AGL apogee with SRAD hybrid or liquid rocket propulsion system
First Prize- Team 79 – University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Second Prize- Team 95 – University of Washington

Charlie Garcia, MIT Rocketeer, and Daniel Hicks

“Reflecting on the highlights of the Spaceport America Cup, the most impressive thing was watching these innovative students from around the world pushing the edge of rocket science as they develop future capabilities for humankind.”
– Daniel Hicks, CEO Spaceport America
Matthew Ellengold and Dustin Koehler with the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association, announce the winners.
“Really this is a story about people, and it’s really quite amazing how far this event has come. The level of competition from when I competed back in 2009 is just incredible.  My team won first place back then and would not even stand a chance today. Our motto at ESRA is that next year will be better,”
– Matthew Corrado-Ellengold, President Experimental Sounding Rocket Association.