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First Nations Launch

FNL LogoLaunch Rockets… Break Barriers… Start Careers




High-Power Rocket Competition

April 16-19, 2020 (TBC)

April 25-27, 2020

Indefinitely Postponed

Rescheduled for September 17-20, 2020


 COVID-19 Response:  The First Nations Launch competition hosted by NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium scheduled for April 25-27, 2020, is postponed until fall 2020.  We continue to actively monitor national and local conditions and are taking appropriate action to protect and care for all students and those supporting the event. Each team may proceed with the rocket build at the discretion of the university administration and the team advisor after receiving a No Cost Extension to their current award.  Any design changes must be approved by Frank Nobile. Please submit all invoices and supporting documentation digitally to the WSGC program office,, no later than May 11, 2020.  Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium will provide regular updates on the competition status. Please direct all inquiries to

              Informational Telecon (Telecon #: 262.551.2124):  October 3, 2019 @ 4:00 pm CDT
                                 Informational Meeting PowerPoint                                                                  
Early Bird Non-binding Notice of Intent to Compete Due:  October 15, 2019 
                 Non-binding Notice of Intent to Compete Due:  October 31, 2019 
                              Rocket Workshop @ Carthage College:  October 25-27, 2019 (See below for more                                                                                                                  information)
                                                   Selection Announcement:   November 1, 2019
                                                      Virtual Kick-off Meeting:   November 7, 2019 @ 4:00 - 5:00 pm CST  
            Virtual Kickoff PPT

Please join the Virtual Kick-off Meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (408) 650-3123
Access Code: 413-589-853
Join from a video-conferencing room or system.
Dial in or type: or
Meeting ID: 413 589 853
Or dial directly: 413589853@ or
New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:

Announcement of Opportunity 2020 
Competition Handbook 2020
Competition Handbook 2020 (Revised 11.7.19) 
Competition Handbook 2020 (Revised 2.7.2020)

Team Awards (based on the availability of funds):

                         Grand Prize Award:    $3000  w/invitation to a NASA Center                                               
                                        2nd Place:    $2000
                                         3rd Place:    $1000
                             Aesthetic Award:    Team whose rocket has the most innovative and                                                                                                            professional appearance.
                          Team Spirit Award:    Team chosen by their peers as the team that shows                                                                                                       interactive spirit, helpfulness, and cooperation.  
                               Altitude Award:     Team whose actual apogee is closest to the predicted                                                                                                   apogee in the Flight Readiness Report.
                                 Judges Award:    Team chosen by the judges as the team who met the                                                                                                    goals of the program and exemplified hard work and determination.
                            Next Step Award:    Up to $15000 Project/Team Travel Award w/invitation to Student                                                                                Launch at Marshall Space Flight Center and/or RockOn! at                                                                                      Wallops Flight Facility.
      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 flight.

NOTE:  Motor selection deadline:  March 2, 2020

Project/Travel Award

Reimbursed up to $3,000.  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:  Thursday dinner, Friday lunch, and Saturday lunch and dinner.  Teams are responsible for their own transportation to and from the competition locations.

NOTE:  Reimbursement deadlines are: March 09 and May 11, 2020.

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. 

AISES Chapters, Tribal Colleges and Universities participating in the competition for the first time will be eligible to send three team members (advisor, team lead, and team member) to a rocket workshop hosted by WSGC at Carthage College, October 25-27, 2019, with all expenses paid.  Returning teams may send up to three individuals to the two-day workshop.  Travel expenses will be the responsibility of the team.  

About the Program:
NASA’s Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) is pleased to announce the 11th Annual First Nations Launch (FNL) National Rocket Competition.  This competition is an opportunity for students attending a Tribal College or University, 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.  

Purpose:  The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium First Nations Launch competition offers Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), as well as active American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) collegiate 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 unique aerospace experience for students that provides a great aerospace experience unique to the Native American communities.

It 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.

Moon Engineering Challenge  

Teams are required to design and construct a “Moon Capsule” stowed in/on a high - powered rocket. The Capsule will be designed to carry two (2) raw eggs to an altitude of 2389 ft. AGL. The Flight Crew eggs must be undamaged upon recovery. A video camera must be mounted inside of the capsule, to observe the Flight Crew eggs over the duration of the flight. The Capsule does not need to separate from the rocket vehicle.

Mars Engineering Challenge 

Teams are required to design and construct a “Moon Lander” stowed in/on a high-power rocket. The rocket shall deploy the Moon Lander at an apogee altitude of 2389 ft. AGL or during descent. If Moon Lander is not tethered to the rocket during descent, the Moon Lander shall have its own recovery parachute system. The Moon Lander shall be designed to land in an upright configuration. Mounting cameras showing Moon Lander deploying from rocket are required. In addition, an onboard video camera on the lander capturing its descent and landing is required.

First Nations Launch 2020 Project Deliverables

Deliverables required for successful participation are listed below:

  1. Participation in the virtual Kick-off Meeting.
  2. A reusable rocket with required payload system ready for competition launch.
  3. A rocket simulation file of the as-built competition rocket, due the day before competition launch.
  4. An Estes rocket must be flown before PDR and a video of the flight uploaded prior to PDR. WSGC will provide the rocket.
  5. Reports (PDF format) and virtual presentations (PowerPoint format) completed and submitted to the WSGC FNL grant management team by the team lead on applicable due dates.
  6. Participation in PDR and CDR virtual reviews through GoToMeeting conference call.
  7. Participation in two (2) Virtual Technical Inspections with Tripoli Wisconsin.
  8. Flight (avionics) data must be turned in on competition launch day. 

All First Nation Launch Teams:  
Review the following competition requirements in the Competition Handbook:

  1. General
  2. Vehicle
  3. Recovery System
  4. Payload/Experiment 
  5. Safety
  6. Proposal

   8-minute 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, teams/individuals:

  • must be enrolled at a Tribal College/University 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
  • may seek advice/mentorship from Industry, Tripoli, NAR, and others
  • can compete without experience (Teams will be given the basic training and information required)

*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 Apply:  A faculty advisor must complete the following steps:

 Once the faculty advisor completes the Notice of Intent (NOI), identifies the team name, lists the student participants, and chooses which competition the team will compete in, each student will need to:

Award Acceptance Components:  As part of the award acceptance, participants will submit the following documents on the WSGC application website under Program Applications/Your Applications:


  • Award Agreement Letter
  • W9

All Team Members

  • Attend the Online Kick-off Meeting
  • Conduct a Flight Demo
  • Attend the Virtual Design Review Meetings conducted by FNL judges and Tripoli
  • Oral Design Presentation
  • Launch Competition

  Team Lead

  • Proposal and Preliminary Budget
  • Preliminary Design Report
  • Demo Flight
  • Critical Design Report
  • Motor Selection
  • Official Team Roster, Team Photo and Team Bio
  • Flight Readiness Report
  • Post Launch Assessment Report

Interested students with questions about the capabilities of the launch motors or seeking help in getting started are highly encouraged to contact Frank Nobile (, FNL Technical Advisor; Bob Justus ( of Tripoli Rocketry Association (a high-powered rocketry association); Mark Abotossaway (, FNL Project Assistant 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, III) during the FNL launch weekend.

Please direct questions about the First Nations Launch program to:

Frank Nobile
Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
Administrative and Technical Coordinator
Tripoli Prefecture, Green Bay, WI

Mark Abotossaway
Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
FNL Project Assistant

Connie Engberg
Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
FNL Liaison

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 Training Grant #80NSSC19M0036. 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.


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