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First Nations Launch

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High-Power Rocket Competition

April 26–28, 2024

Register and apply!


important Dates

  • Announcement of Opportunity: September 1, 2023
  • Launch 2 Learn Registration (Level 1 Rocket Certification Workshop @ Carthage College Nov. 4-5, 2023)
    w/Non-Binding Notice of Intent (NOI) to Compete Due:

    September 25, 2023
  • Mars/Moon/Gateway Early Bird Challenges Non-Binding NOI to Compete Due:
    October 20, 2023
  • Gateway Challenge Notice of Intent to Compete Due: December 18, 2023

2024 COMPETITION HANDBOOK  - Revised November 29, 2023 

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About the Program

NASA’s Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) is pleased to announce the 15th 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 active members of an American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) collegiate chapter at a non-TCU/NASNTI university/college 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.


The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium First Nations Launch competition offers Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (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 2800’ AGL. The rocket should satisfy all other technical requirements as outlined in the competition handbook.

Moon Challenge: Teams shall design, test, and fabricate a rocket that will air deploy a lander with a fabricated retractable payload chassis at apogee. The payload chassis must be equipped with a recovery device (streamer, parachute), camera, and GPS System/tracking device (RF, audible). The rocket flight shall be stable and reach an apogee of 2000’ AGL. The rocket must satisfy all other technical requirements as outlined in the requirements section of the competition handbook.

Mars Engineering Challenge: Teams are required to design, test, and fabricate a rocket that will air deploy a drone with a fabricated retractable air frame payload with size and weight limitations designed to deploy at apogee and return safely to the ground under control. The rocket flight shall be stable and reach an apogee of 2500’ AGL. The drone payload must descend under drone parachute until it reaches 400’ AGL, wherein the drone parachute will release and a TRUST-certified drone pilot will pilot the drone to a predetermined landing zone. The rocket must satisfy all other technical requirements as outlined in the requirements section of 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.
NOTE: Motor selection deadline: February 26, 2024

Project/Travel Award

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 breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Teams are responsible for their own transportation to and from the competition locations.

NOTE: Reimbursement deadlines are: March 4 and May 13, 2024

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.

Rocket Certification

Advisors, co-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.

- A Notice of Intent to Compete must be submitted in order to be eligible for the November in-person workshop at Carthage College.
- Space is limited.  Universities/colleges participating in the competition for the first time will be given priority consideration.


Contact Us

Interested students and/or faculty members with questions or seeking help in getting started are highly encouraged to contact:

Please direct questions about the First Nations Launch program to:

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

Rob Cannon
FNL Program Manager
Carthage College
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: 262-551-5727

Christine Bolz
FNL Program Director and WSGC Assistant Director
Carthage College
2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: 262-551-5915

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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