Each year, NASA sponsors a year long, student launch challenge for colleges and middle / high school students. Students need to design, build and fly a high powered rocket that reaches an altitude between 4,000 and 6,000 feet. (This would be considered a Level 1 HPR using Tripoli or NAR classifications – well within the capabilities of an amateur rocketeer.)

Two aspects are unique to this program:

  • Teams must follow the reviews typical of a NASA mission: PDR (Preliminary Design Review), CDR (Critical Design Review), FDR (Flight Readiness Review), LRR (Launch Readiness Review) and PLAR (Post-Launch Assessment Review).
  • The rocket must carry and successfully deploy a payload whose mission changes each year. Often, designing, building and successfully deploying the payload is harder than the rocket launch.

This year’s mission is a pivotably camera that can be remotely commanded (via APRS radio commands) to take pictures after the payload has landed. Implied in this challenge, is that the payload lands upright. A very interesting challenge to any amateur rocketeer or rocketry club.

Even if you are not considering (or eligible) to submit a proposal, it is worthwhile to download and review the Student Launch Handbook. Details can be found at: https://www.nasa.gov/stem/studentlaunch/home/index.html