Teams from Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame are top 10 finishers in the 2020 NASA Student Launch competition.
The event challenges middle school, high school, and university teams from across the U.S to build and fly a high-powered amateur rocket carrying a complex payload.
The rocket must reach at least 4,000 feet above the ground, and then descend and land safely.
In the university division, Notre Dame came in sixth, Purdue was ninth. A team from Vanderbilt University in Nashville grabbed top honors.
Although the launch event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams were still able to complete most of the design, building and testing portions of the competition.
“This year’s teams showed true innovation and determination as they tackled the new payload challenge and the unconventional methods we had to employ to complete the competition,” said Fred Kepner, an education program specialist and lead for Student Launch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “Despite the unique obstacles they faced this year, their commitment to technical excellence and carrying on in the spirit of the competition never wavered.”
University teams developed payloads to navigate to a designated sample site, retrieve a simulated sample of planetary ice, and navigate at least 10 feet away from the site with the sample stored safely aboard.
Teams earn points for progress and successes during the eight-month competition, and the team with the most points wins. Awards also are presented in 11 different categories that range from payload design and safety to best social media presence and STEM outreach.