United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected K-12 student payloads to launch aboard three intern-built sport rockets at this summer’s Student Rocket Launch. ULA intern volunteers design, build and launch the three 19-foot-tall high-power sport rockets – named Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato – while volunteer interns from Ball Aerospace and K-12 students design and build payloads that launch on the rockets.
The Student Rocket Launch, sponsored by ULA and Ball, gives students hands-on experience working with rockets and payloads (on-board experiments and instruments deployed after launch). The program aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and space entrepreneurs.
A payload can be almost anything a team can create within the provided guidelines. This year’s payloads include experiments that explore the effects of gravity, astronaut art packs, airbag deployment systems, landers that gather soil and ground rovers.
“The importance of hands-on STEM education to today’s students cannot be overstated,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO.
“The Student Rocket Launch gives students from kindergarten through graduate school the opportunity to design, innovate, problem-solve and bring to life payloads and rockets that they will see launch thousands of feet above the ground. Our team is very impressed by the technical knowledge and creativity the teams showed in their proposals and design reviews.”
The 2021 Student Rocket Launch will take place July 17 at Hudson Ranch in Pueblo, Colorado. This year, ULA’s three intern-built sport rockets will launch 21 Ball intern and K-12 student payloads thousands of feet above the ground.
Since 2009, ULA’s summer interns have built and launched high-power sport rockets containing payloads designed and built by Ball Aerospace interns who participate in the Ball Intern Remote Sensing Team (BIRST) program. Since 2010, ULA has invited K-12 student teams to join the program by designing and building their own payloads to launch. In 2018, the company introduced a payload competition for K-12 students to win prizes. ULA and Ball interns volunteer for the program in addition to their day jobs within the aerospace companies.
“The BIRST program in partnership with ULA’s Student Rocket Launch program is always a favorite part of our intern summer experience,” said David Kaufman, president, Ball Aerospace. “The effort the K-12 students, interns and Ball mentors put into developing creative and innovative payloads is remarkable each year and highlights both the educational and fun elements of STEM.”
When submtting their proposals, K-12 teams chose whether they wanted to compete for a chance to win ULA prize packs in a payload design, testing and performance competition.