Skip to main content
Menu Icon

First Nations Launch

First Nations Launch Logo


Artemis Student ChallengeLogo

Launching Rockets…


  Breaking Barriers…


                           Starting Careers




High-Power Rocket Competition

April 23-25, 2021

About the Program: 
NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium’s First Nations Launch (FNL) National High-Power Rocket Competition is a NASA Artemis Student Challenge that provides  an opportunity for students attending a Tribal College or University, a Native American-Serving Nontribal Institution (NASNTI), or who are members of an active American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) collegiate chapter to design, build, and fly a high-powered rocket to be launched at a competition at the Richard Bong State Recreational Area in Kansasville, WI.

Note: As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, FNL will closely monitor and follow guidelines from federal, state and community officials regarding on-site competitions. Protecting the health and safety of team members, staff and judges is our primary priority. Challenge managers will be in contact with participants on specifics and changes to the challenges, if any.  Learn more.

Purpose:  The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) First Nations Launch (FNL) competition offers Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), Native American Non-Tribal Institutions (NASNTI) as well as active American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) college chapters the opportunity to demonstrate engineering and design skills through direct application in high-power rocketry. The competition requires teams of undergraduate students to conceive, design, fabricate and compete with high power rockets. FNL is a ‘First Step’ experience designed for students with no prior experience working with high-powered rockets. Rocket motors and dimensions are restricted by competition parameters so that knowledge, creativity, and imagination of the students are challenged. The end result is a great aerospace learning experience unique to the Native American communities.

First Nations LaunchIt is the purpose of this Announcement of Opportunity to support the innovative, visionary projects that are student-led and designed to fully realize WSGC’s goal of assisting in training the next generation of aerospace professionals.

Announcement of Opportunity:  September 1, 2020
Announcement of Opportunity 2021
Competition Handbook 2021  (Rev. 12-11)

                                             Zoom Informational Telecon :  September 28, 2020 @ 4:00 pm CDT
        Early Bird Non-binding Notice of Intent to Compete 
                          and Request for Rocketry Workshop Due:  October 12, 2020
                                             Zoom Informational Telecon :  October 20, 2020 @ 4:00 pm CDT
                         Non-binding Notice of Intent to Compete   
                          and Request for Rocketry Workshop Due:   October 26, 2020

                                Due to ongoing technical issues with the WSGC Funding Program application site,                                        the deadline to submit an NOI has been extended through October 28, 2020, @ 11:59 pm

                                                   Selection Announcement:   October 30, 2020
                                                      Zoom Kick-off Meeting:   November 3, 2020 @ 4:00 - 5:00 pm CST 
                             Proposal and Preliminary Budget Due:   November 23, 2020

Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium seeks proposals from TCUs, NASNTIs, as well as, colleges/universities with active AISES chapters to conduct the WSGC First Nation Launch (FNL) during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Proposals to participate will be accepted from any TCU, NASNTI, or collegiate AISES chapter. Following the proposal acceptance, teams will complete a series of design reviews, which are discussed further in the Program Milestones section of this handbook.

FNL Moon ChallengeMoon Challenge:  Teams are required to design and construct a warning sensor system (flight recorder) mounted inside a high-power rocket. The rocket shall reach an apogee of 3,500-4,000 ft AGL, and the warning sensor system will be designed to record two flight events aboard the rocket during its ascent, including one nominal separation event and one air frame anomaly. Both events must be recorded on the flight recording system, and a video showing one event is required.

FNL Mars ChallengeMars Engineering Challenge:  Teams are required to design and construct two (2) trackable space debris objects stowed inside a high-power rocket. The rocket shall reach an apogee of 3,500-4,000 ft AGL and deploy the debris at drogue or main chute ejection. The debris will be designed to descend under its/their own recovery system and have a total weight not to exceed 32oz (907g). A telemetry system is required to demonstrate the debris can be tracked from the ground.

Team Challenge Awards (based on the availability of funds):
                         Grand Prize Award:    $3000  w/invitation and travel stipend for a VIP Tour at a NASA Center                                                2nd Place:      $2000
                                         3rd Place:    $1000
                  Written Reports Award:   Certificate
              Oral Presentation Award:   Certificate

Competition Awards (based on the availability of funds):
                             Aesthetic Award:    Team whose rocket has the most innovative and                                                                                                            professional appearance as determined by peers.
                          Team Spirit Award:    Team that shows interactive spirit, helpfulness, and cooperation as                                                                              determined by peers.  
                               Altitude Award:     Team whose actual apogee is closest to the required/predicted                                                                                     apogee in the Flight Readiness Report.
                                 Judges Award:    Team who best met the goals of the program and exemplified hard work                                                                     and determination as determined by the judges.
                                 Nobile Award:    Team who best met all safety expectations by designing and building the                                                                     competition rocket according to TRA standards and                                                                                                    recommendations as determined by TRA.
                            Next Step Award:    Team best deemed to compete at the next level of competition as                                                                               determined by the WSGC team.  Up to $15000 Project/Team Travel                                                                             Award w/invitation to Student Launch at Marshall Space Flight                                                                                   Center and/or RockOn! at Wallops Flight Facility.
                            Outreach Award:   $500
                     Patch Design Award:   $100
     Team Advisor/Mentor Stipend:   Up to $1000 (Teams must meet the conditions of participation)

Equipment/Reimbursable funds provided by WSGC:

Rocket Motor

Two (2) motors per team will be provided per the competition parameters.  WSGC also provides ejection charges and a motor casing for competition flights.
NOTE:  Motor selection deadline:  March 1, 2021

Project/Travel Award

Reimbursed up to $4000.  WSGC provides lodging in Kenosha, WI during the launch weekend.  Each team receives up to three (3) hotel rooms per night for a maximum of three (3) nights at the hotel selected for the competition.  WSGC provides the following meals:  Friday breakfast and lunch, and Saturday lunch and dinner.  Teams are responsible for their own transportation to and from the competition locations. 
NOTE:  Reimbursement deadlines are:  March 05 and May 10, 2021

Learning Resources

Each team that participates in the Virtual Kick-Off Meeting will receive a low-power rocket for demonstration flight requirements.

Each new school registered to compete will receive two reference resources:  Model Rocket Design and Construction Third Edition and Modern High-Power Rocketry 2. 

Teams participating in the competition for the first time will be eligible to send three team members (advisor, team lead, and team member) to attend a Launch 2 Learn rocket workshop hosted by WSGC with all expenses paid.  Returning teams may sponsor team members to attend the two-day workshop.  Cost includes:  1) registration fee ($200), and 2) travel expenses.  Additional workshops will include a per diem for FNL (3) representatives.


   Informational Video

Application Requirements:  Team/Individual applicants who meet the following requirements can apply for this program by registering and applying online at

To qualify for the competition, individuals/teams must:

  • be enrolled at a Tribal College/University, a Native American-Serving Nontribal Institution (NASNTI), or attending a university with an active AISES program
  • have a committed faculty mentor 
  • select a team leader


  • should be comprised of approximately 4-6 students
  • can compete without experience (Teams will be given the basic training and information required)
  • shall seek advice/mentorship from Industry, Tripoli, NAR, and others

*Note from Tripoli:  Without exception, university teams must involve an experienced mentor, preferably a TAP or L3CC, during the design and construction phases of their rocketry projects if they expect to fly them at Tripoli events. The mentor must be certified at or above the level of motor the team wishes to fly AND experienced in the type of construction, propulsion, and recovery the team uses. 

Although it is ultimately up to the judgment of the RSO and Launch Director, University teams who build a rocket that requires a motor higher than their member cert levels, and then as an afterthought contact a club hoping to fly (without ever involving an experienced mentor) should be told no.  

To Register and Apply:  The faculty advisor must first register with WSGC and apply to the Rocket Launch Team (Create an NOI) before students/team members can apply to the First Nations Launch program.  One exception to the order of registration exists. If the student team lead has never registered with WSGC, he/she must register before the advisor begins the Notice of Intent (NOI) application.

A faculty advisor must complete the following steps:

  • REGISTER as faculty on the WSGC website ( Applicants will be prompted to update personal information annually (if previously registered). 
  • Complete and submit the “Rocket Launch Team (Create NOI)” Grant APPLICATION form ( The following information/documents will be submitted during this step:
    • Individual W9
    • Media Release
    • Challenge selection: If applying for both the Moon and Mars Challenge, please indicate in the Rocket Launch Team NOI which competition is the school’s preference.   (Up to twenty-four teams will be selected to compete in the First Nation’s Launch. WSGC will give priority to early registrants and first-time participants).
    • Student team lead
    • Co-Advisor (if applicable)

Once the faculty advisor completes the Notice of Intent (NOI), identifies the team name, lists the co-advisor (if applicable), team lead, and student participants, and chooses which competition the team will compete in, each team member (including a co-advisor) will need to:

Interested students and/or faculty members with questions or seeking help in getting started are highly encouraged to contact Frank Nobile (, FNL Technical Advisor; Bob Justus ( of Tripoli Rocketry Association Illinois (a high-powered rocketry association); Aaron Ashley ( FNL Project Assistant and alumni; Mark Abotossaway (, FNL Advisor Liaison and alumni; a rocket association near them, or a representative at a local Tripoli Prefecture ( Students interested in gaining information or experience by observing rocket launches are encouraged to contact the local Tripoli, or to attend one of the regular rocket launches held within the team’s local area. Individuals may test for Tripoli High-Powered Rocket Certification (Levels I, II) during the FNL launch weekend.

Please direct questions about the First Nations Launch program to:

Christine Bolz, FNL Program Director and WSGC Assistant Director

Carthage College
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI  53140
Phone:  262-551-5915

Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium

Carthage College
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI  53140
Phone:  262-551-6054

This funding opportunity is made available for the pursuit of space-related research and/or activities through the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program: NASA Education Cooperative Agreements #80NSSC19M0036 and #80NSSC20M0123. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number for this award is 43.008. All awardees are subject to the terms of the prime award. The material contained in this document is based upon work supported by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant or cooperative agreement. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA.


All awards are fully competitive awards of opportunity in which applications are reviewed by the WSGC Technical Advisory Panel and other experts as needed. Awards are made by the Assistant Director based on recommendations from the WSGC Technical Advisory Panel.


Please follow us on InstagramFacebook, Twitter  or Flickr for Program Updates
Join our mailing list

Background Image of Earth