PUEBLO, Colo. — United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected payloads designed by K-12 students to launch aboard three intern-built sport rockets at this summer’s Student Rocket Launch at Hudson Ranch.

The intern-built rockets will stand at 19.6 feet and carry five to six different payloads each. Each of the rockets will deliver approximately 768 pounds of average thrust over a 6-second interval. The rockets are expected to reach altitudes of approximately 4,200 feet.

The Student Rocket Launch, sponsored by ULA and Ball Aerospace, gives students hands-on experience working with rockets and payloads (onboard experiments and instruments deployed after launch). The program aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and space entrepreneurs through an enriching introduction to the world of STEM and rocketry.

ULA interns volunteer to design, build and refurbish three high-power sport rockets – named Sine, Cosine and Tangent – while interns from Ball Aerospace and K-12 students design and build payloads to be integrated on the vehicle. A payload can be almost anything a team can create within the provided guidelines. This year’s payloads include instruments to generate a 3D simulation of each launch phase as well as tests to determine which type of structure best remains intact against extreme forces.

“Today’s students are future leaders; we cannot harness the potential of space without the scientists, engineers, and explorers of tomorrow,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. The advanced, technical knowledge illustrated in this year’s proposals has not gone unnoticed. Our team is very impressed with the level of creativity shown in the work submitted thus far.”

Since its inception in 2008, the Student Rocket Launch has expanded to include students from programs across the nation. In 2009, ULA partnered with Ball Aerospace, which provided participating interns in the Ball Intern Remote Sensing Team (BIRST) the opportunity to build and design payloads to be launched on ULA intern-built rockets. The option to design and build payloads for the launch was extended to K-12 students in 2010. ULA and Ball interns volunteer for the program in addition to their day jobs within the aerospace companies.

“Through these unique, hands-on programs, students are able to experience the full engineering lifecycle, network with peers, mentors and industry professionals,” said David Kaufman, president, Ball Aerospace. “The collaboration… enable the exciting components of STEM that go beyond the classroom for an exceptional experience.”

In 2018, ULA added a payload competition to the Student Rocket Launch event. The payloads are judged by their design phase, testing phase and payload performance. For 2022, the top three teams will earn a cash prize for their school or a nonprofit organization of their choosing.