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United Launch Alliance Announces K-12 Student Rocket Launch Payloads

Hands-on STEM Project Culminates with Launch on 50thAnniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Centennial, Colo., (June 20, 2019) — United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected K-12 student “payloads” to launch atop its intern-built sport rocket at this summer’s Student Rocket Launch. The event, sponsored by ULA and Ball Aerospace, offers a unique, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experience centered on inspiring the next generation of rocket scientists. ULA and Ball selected the July 20 launch date in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Future Heavy Super Sport Rocket

The Student Rocket Launch program offers students from kindergarten through graduate school hands-on experience working with rockets and payloads. 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. Projects this year include data sensors, drones, rovers and a scale model of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module.

ULA intern volunteers design, build and refurbish the high-power sport rocket – dubbed “Future Heavy Super Sport” – while volunteer interns from Ball Aerospace and K-12 students design and build payloads that launch on the rocket.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, explorers, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “The Student Rocket Launch gives students from kindergarten through graduate school hands-on experience designing, problem-solving and innovating with the added experience of launching their work thousands of feet above the ground.”

The 2019 Student Rocket Launch will take place July 20 at Fort Carson, Colorado, which is located south of Colorado Springs. The payloads will launch on the Future Heavy Super Sport rocket, a high-power sport rocket built and refurbished by ULA interns.

Since 2009, ULA’s summer interns built and launched high-power sport rockets carrying payloads designed and built by Ball Aerospace interns as part of the Ball Intern Remote Sensing Team (BIRST) program. In 2010, ULA opened the opportunity up to K-12 student teams, and the company introduced a competition element in 2018. ULA and Ball interns volunteer to participate in the program in addition to their “day jobs” at the aerospace companies.

“The Ball Aerospace interns are an exceptional group of diverse students from 44 colleges and universities, who are pursuing careers in STEM fields that are of importance to the aerospace industry,” said Rob Strain, president, Ball Aerospace. “The BIRST program and our long-standing partnership with ULA enable our interns to experience a real-world mission from the design phase of a payload all the way to launch.”

When submitting their proposals, teams chose whether they wanted to compete for a chance to win up to $5,000 for their school or sponsoring nonprofit organization by guiding their payload closest to a designated ground-based target. Teams choosing not to compete create a payload with a mission objective of their choosing.

2019 Student Rocket Launch K-12 Payload Teams


  • Ann Sobrato High School (Morgan Hill, CA)
    o   Generic Drone Name*
  • Destiny Christian Elementary School (Rocklin, CA)
    o   Roaring Chicken
  • Brookside Elementary School (Oak Park, CA)
    o   The Order of the Eggs
  •  Downey High School (Downey, CA)
    o   The RC Paraglider*
  • Newport Christian School (Newport Beach, CA)
    o   NCS Weather Radar


  • Boulder High School (Boulder, CO)
    o   Curio*
    o   The Sky Crane*
    o   Cole*
  • Impact Tae Kwon Do (Highlands Ranch, CO)
    o   In-flight Dynamic Environments Measurements
  • Monarch High School (Louisville, CO)
    o   Tanky McTankface*
  •  Peak to Peak Charter (Lafayette, CO)
    o   Capturing the Moment
    o   Greenhouse Gas Assessment Apparatus
    o   Kinderducks*
    o   Operation Falling Weather
    o   Smorgasbord
  • Ralston Valley High School (Arvada, CO):
    o   The Fruits of Labor
    o   The Egg-Ceptional Payload
  • Silverton School (Silverton, Colorado)
    o   Can You Dig It?
  • Smoky Hill High School (Centennial, CO)
    o   Apollo LM Tribute
  • STEM School Highlands Ranch (Highlands Ranch, CO)
    o   Gone Home*
    o   Lookout Below


  • Edgewood High School (Merritt Island, FL)
    o   ELT-1*

New Mexico

  • Santa Fe Composite Squadron (Santa Fe, NM)
    o   Civil Air Patrol Autonomous Emergency Delivery System*


  • Catlin Gabel School (Tigard, OR)
    o   CGSMAP*


  • Team Astrocube (Austin, TX)
    o   Astrocube

* Denotes a competition team

Source: United Launch Alliance

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Duncan Idaho

Duncan is a science and technology reporter for CDN and serves as the lead geek correspondent. Follow him if you like rockets, mobile tech, video games or ... just about anything nerdy.

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