First Nations Launch
High-Power Rocket Competition
April 28–30, 2023
Register and apply!
- Announcement of Opportunity: September 1, 2022
- Moon/Mars Challenge Early Bird Non-Binding Notice of Intent (NOI) to Compete Due: September 26, 2022
- Moon/Mars Challenge and Gateway Early Bird Non-Binding NOI to Compete Due: October 21, 2022
- Gateway Challenge Notice of Intent to Compete Due: December 16, 2022
COMPETITION HANDBOOK (Revised 02.28.23)
About the Program
NASA’s Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) is pleased to announce the 14 th Annual First Nations Launch (FNL) National Rocket Competition. This competition is an opportunity for students attending a Tribal College or University (TCU), 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 contact participants on specifics and changes to the challenges, if any. Learn more.
The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium First Nations Launch competition offers Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), Native American-Serving Nontribal Institution (NASNTI), 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 the knowledge, creativity, and imagination of the students are challenged. The end result is a great aerospace learning 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.
Gateway Challenge: Teams shall design and construct a dual deploy high-power rocket from a list of possible kit combinations. There is no payload/challenge associated with this challenge, with the focus being on the safe and complete selection, simulation, procurement, assembly/fabrication, and flight of the kit rocket. The flight shall be stable and reach an apogee of 2500’ AGL. The rocket should satisfy all other technical requirements as outlined in the competition handbook.
Moon Challenge: Teams shall design, test, and fabricate specific structural design components (nosecone/shoulders, bulkheads/centering rings, fins, avionics sled) of a lightweight rocket from raw materials - the focus is on material science, fabrication, and understanding material properties and strengths. The rocket shall be based on 1 of 3 Commercial off-the-Shelf (COTS) kits. The rocket shall be designed as such to be lighter than the COTS kit, but equally strong if not stronger. Teams will be partially scored based on overall fabricated weight versus COTS weight comparison. The flight shall be stable and reach an apogee between 3000’ and 4000’ AGL. The rocket should satisfy all other technical requirements as outlined in the competition handbook.
Mars Engineering Challenge: Teams shall design, test, and fabricate all structural components of a lightweight rocket from raw materials - the focus is on material science, fabrication, and understanding material properties and strengths. The rocket shall be based on 1 of 3 COTS kits. The rocket shall be designed as such to be lighter than the COTS kit, but equally strong if not stronger. Teams will be partially scored based on overall fabricated weight versus COTS weight comparison. The flight shall be stable and reach an apogee between 3500’ and 4000’ AGL. The rocket should satisfy all other technical requirements as outlined in the competition handbook.
Equipment/Reimbursable funds provided by WSGC
Competition Rocket Motor
One (1) motor per team will be provided per the competition parameters. WSGC also provides ejection charges and a motor casing for competition flights.
Reimbursed up to $4000 for project and travel expenses (U.S. teams only). Teams traveling from Mountain, Pacific, Hawaiian, or Alaskan time zones may request additional travel funds. Requests should be submitted with the budget proposal.
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 6 and May 8, 2023
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 will be eligible to send three team members (advisor, team lead, and team member) to attend a Launch 2 Learn Level I Rocket Certification Workshop hosted by WSGC with all expenses paid. Returning teams may participate in the workshop. Universities/colleges participating in the competition for the first time will be given first consideration.
Advisors and students may obtain their Tripoli High-power Rocketry Certification through an in-person or virtual Launch 2 Learn (L2L) rocket certification workshop. Each team is eligible to send up to 3 individuals (Advisor/Co-advisor, Team Lead, and Team Member) to the workshop. Participants receive a Level 1 Rocket Kit, Motor, and Level 1 Tripoli Rocketry Association Certification upon a successful flight. WSGC provides travel funds for individuals attending the in-person workshop and/or travel funds to attend a local launch site event.
Each team may request a “Reach for the Stars National Rocket Competition” Kit to conduct a local outreach event for 15 students ages 10-18. Outreach participants will be eligible for the Reach for the Stars National Winners’ Celebration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Interested students and/or faculty members with questions or seeking help in getting started are highly encouraged to contact:
- Frank Nobile (Maxq3@aol.com), FNL Technical Advisor
- Bob Justus (email@example.com) of Tripoli Rocketry Association Illinois (a high-powered rocketry association)
- Mark Abotossaway (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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:
FNL Program Director and WSGC Assistant Director
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI 53140
Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI 53140
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.
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