News Releases

Angela Storey
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

RELEASE : 11-066
NASA Names Top University Rocketeers in 2010-11 NASA Student Launch Projects; Utah State University Wins Third Time in Four Years
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- NASA has named student rocketeers from Utah State University in Logan the champions in the 10th annual NASA Student Launch Projects rocketry challenge, which extols the virtues of diligence and innovation and seeks to inspire young people to pursue rewarding careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The win for Utah State University is its third in the past four years. Competitors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and Vanderbilt University in Nashville won second and third place, respectively. The "Rookie of the Year" award also went to competition newcomer Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A record 27 student teams from colleges and universities across the nation participated in this year's challenge. Each year, student teams vie to see whose rocket can come closest to the 1-mile altitude goal and safely return its onboard science or engineering payload -- which they also must design and build as part of the challenge. The student teams also maintain project websites and create local educational campaigns to excite younger students about technical fields of learning -- potentially cultivating still more future scientists, engineers and national leaders.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., organizes the rocketry competition each year at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala., who has hosted the launch challenge since 2008. It is sponsored by ATK Aerospace Systems of Salt Lake City, Utah.

During the April launch event that concluded the 2010-11 competition, NASA and ATK presented a variety of preliminary awards. In addition to their top trophies, Vanderbilt won "Best Payload Design" -- for its novel, liquid-nitrogen injection system, simulating the working behavior of an airplane engine at cruising altitude -- and Massachusetts Institute of Technology earned the "Project Review" award for the best written reports, flight readiness reviews and formal presentations.

Top-prize winner Utah State also was honored for "Best Vehicle Design," an award the school last received in 2009, the last year it also won the entire competition.

For a complete list of 2010-11 NASA Student Launch Projects preliminary winners, visit:

NASA held the first student launch event in 2000-01. In response to its growing popularity, NASA expanded it in 2006, creating one division for colleges and universities and another, non-competitive division for middle schools and high schools. The event expanded this year with a new pilot demonstration of a second-level university challenge, held May 21 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

The Marshall Center's Academic Affairs Office, part of the Office of Human Capital, manages the rocketry challenge. The project is sponsored by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Space Operations Mission Directorate, Science Mission Directorate and the Education Flight Projects Office in NASA’s Office of Education, all at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ATK provided corporate sponsorship. The National Association of Rocketry provided technical review and launch support. Watch archived video of the entire launch event at:

Visit NASA Student Launch Projects on Facebook and Twitter:

For more information about the NASA Student Launch Projects, visit: or

For information about other NASA education projects supporting students and educators across the nation, visit:

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