Rockville Team Places 2nd in National Finals in World’s Largest Student Rocketry Challenge

by MCS Staff

Rockville Team Places 2nd in National Finals in World’s Largest Student Rocketry Challenge

Teams from across the country competed in The American Rocketry Challenge for the chance at $100,000 in cash prizes and scholarships

Explorer Post 1010 from Rockville, MD, finished 2nd out of 615 teams in the 2021 American Rocketry Challenge, the world’s largest student rocketry contest. The team competed against 99 other teams at the National Finals, which took place at 10 regional launch sites earlier this month. Their success follows months of preparation designing, building, and testing a rocket capable of meeting rigorous altitude and flight duration parameters set by the contest’s sponsors – the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and National Association of Rocketry. The team is being advised by Robert Ekman.

The virtual awards ceremony is available by clicking here.

After the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 competition, the top 100 teams from 27 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands competed for $100,000 in prizes at the 2021 National Finals. The prize pool will be split among the top five teams, with Explorer Post 1010taking home $17,000 in total prizes: $15,000 for the team, $1,000 for the school, and $1,000 for Best in Launch Siteat The Plains, Virginia, regional launch site. Explorer Post 1010 will also receive an invitation to participate in NASA’s Student Launch initiative to continue their exploration of rocketry with high-powered rockets and challenging mission parameters.

“The unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic were no match for our intrepid rocketeers,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. “Their hard work and ingenuity were on full display at the National Finals, proving their ability to rise to any occasion. We are proud to foster a passion for aerospace in these bright young students as they grow into the next generation of STEM leaders.”

Structured to emulate the aerospace industry’s design, fabrication, and testing process, The American Rocketry Challenge requires teams of 3-10 middle school or high school students to build and fly a model rocket that meets challenging design requirements and precise targets for altitude and flight duration. This year’s challenge required teams to safely carry a payload of one raw egg to three different altitude and time goals. Qualification flights for the National Finals required teams to launch to 800 feet and land within 40-43 seconds. National Finalists then had to tweak their rockets to fly 775 feet within 39 to 42 seconds, and then to 825 feet within 41 to 44 seconds. For each flight, the rocket must return to the ground safely and with the egg intact.


615 teams from 46 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands competed in the 2021 edition of the contest.
21 of the 100 National Finalist teams were first-time competitors.
The American Rocketry Challenge has distributed more than $120,000 in grants to first-time competitors from Title 1 schools since 2019 to launch their own rocketry teams.
First launched in 2002, the Rocketry Challenge has inspired more than 80,000 middle and high school students to explore education and careers in STEM fields.

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