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Three Universities Accepting NASA Rocketry Challenge
Teams from three universities in the southeastern United States will step up to the launch pad May 21 to meet NASA’s rocketry challenge to fly to 10,000 feet and survive a water recovery.

Accepting the challenge are The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Mississippi State University in Starkville and Mitchell Community College in Statesville, N.C.

The challenge, which will take place at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, is an expansion to the NASA Student Launch Project facilitated by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

A similar event was held in Huntsville, Ala., April 17 with 44 middle and high schools and universities from 23 states participating. These rockets were aiming for a 5,000 foot altitude in their flights and survive a land recovery.

As part of the challenge, each team will design and build its own rocket, complete with a working science or engineering payload they also must design, install and operate during flight. To round out the flight operations experience, each team is required to develop a project website and write progress and post-launch analysis reports. Teams also develop space- and exploration-themed educational projects to share with schools and youth organizations in their communities -- expanding the reach of the projects and inspiring even younger generations to pursue a technical education.

All college and university teams that placed among the top five finalists in the last two years of the launch project in Alabama were invited to take part in the new challenge in Virginia. The rockets are intended to fly to a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet -- nearly twice the height of the regular competition. In addition, since rockets will be launched over the Atlantic Ocean, they need to survive a water recovery.

"We couldn't imagine a better way to herald 10 years of NASA student rocketry than by expanding the challenge and upping the stakes for our most experienced teams," said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Marshall Center's Academic Affairs Office. "We'll see a display of sophisticated vehicle engineering and powered flight that suggests American space exploration and scientific discovery will be in good hands for years to come."

The Marshall Center's Academic Affairs Office manages the rocketry challenge and is supported by the Communications and Education Offices at Wallops. The expanded project is sponsored by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Space Operations Mission Directorate, and the Education Flight Projects Office in NASA’s Office of Education, all at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ATK Aerospace Systems of Salt Lake City, Utah. provided corporate sponsorship.

For more information about this and other NASA education initiatives, visit: