NASA’s Student Launch competition for 2021 came to an end on Friday with a virtual ceremony to reveal the winners. The winner of the Launch Division was the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, while the winner of the Design Division was New York University.
“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 is a competition that challenges students from throughout the country to design, build, test, fly, and successfully land an amateur rocket at a height of at least 3,500 feet. The competition takes place in April, and the teams generally congregate in Huntsville. However, because of the pandemic, these activities were changed to take place locally or remotely for each team to comply with government advice and assist limit the spread of COVID-19.
Teams compete in collegiate or middle school/high school divisions and are graded on almost a dozen factors, including altitude, safety, vehicle design, social media presence, and participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
This year, academic teams were given the goal of constructing a Planetary Lander System that could land, self-level, construct a 360-degree panoramic photograph of the landing location, and communicate the image to a distant ground station during flight recovery. Teams of middle and high school students were given the challenge of creating a science experiment or engineering payload that was acceptable for their talents and curriculum.
Vanderbilt University, University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, and North Carolina State University reached the top five in the Launch Division. The champion, New York University, was followed by the University of California in Los Angeles and The Ohio State University as the top three teams in the Design Division.
The top five teams in the Launch Division are:
- The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- Vanderbilt University
- University of Notre Dame
- Purdue University
- North Carolina State University
The top three teams in the Design Division are:
- New York University
- University of California, Los Angeles, and The Ohio State University