NASA announces winner of 2021 Student Launch competition


On Friday, NASA’s 2021 Student Launch competition came to an end with a virtual ceremony to announce the winners.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte was selected as the winner of the Launch Division while New York University was named winner of the Design Division.

“This year’s challenge will hopefully serve as an inspiration for a lifetime of learning,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Someday it may be you designing a new spaceflight system or spacecraft or even a vehicle to land on another planet.”

Student Launch challenges students from around the United States to design, build, test, fly, and successfully land an amateur rocket to at least 3,500 feet above the ground.

The competition is held during the month of April, and traditionally, the teams gather in Huntsville. However, due to the pandemic, in an effort to comply with federal guidance and help restrict the spread of COVID-19, these events were modified to take place locally to each team or virtually.

Teams compete in collegiate or middle school/high school divisions, and are scored in nearly a dozen categories, including altitude, safety, vehicle design, social media presence, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics engagement.

This year, the university level teams were tasked with developing a Planetary Lander System to be deployed during flight recovery, which could land, self-level, assemble a 360-degree panoramic image of the landing site, and transmit the image to a remote ground station. Middle and high school teams were tasked with developing a science experiment or engineering payload appropriate to their capabilities and curriculum.

Rounding out the top five in the Launch Division were Vanderbilt University, University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, and North Carolina State University. The top three teams in the Design Division were the winner, New York University, followed by the University of California at Los Angeles and The Ohio State University.

For more information about NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges, visit their website here.

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