As winter storm Xyler approached southern Wisconsin, a group of 15 tribal college teams gathered in the cold to launch high-powered rockets at the 10th annual First Nations Launch in Kansasville, Wisconsin. The competition was bumped up a day early to avoid the storm. On Friday April 26, 2019, in spite of a couple anomalies, all Native American college teams were successful in launching a rocket that they hand-built.
Students were evaluated for rocket aesthetics, team spirit and altitude, among other criteria. The competition was separated into two subcategories, the Tribal Challenge and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Challenge. The Tribal Challenge required students to build a high-powered rocket equipped with a camera and to create a montage of photos and videos showing construction, preparation, flight and recovery. Target apogee was between 2,400 and 3,000 feet above ground level for Tribal teams. The AISES Challenge required students to build a rocket with a microcontroller system installed to capture critical flight data. Target apogee for AISES teams was between 3,500 and 5,000 feet.
The event, which is funded by NASA’s Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, was supported by a number of NASA employees. Rob Cannon and Theresa Martinez, from Kennedy Space Center’s Academic Engagement Office; James Wood, chief engineer of the Launch Services Program at Kennedy; Orson John from Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Joseph Connolly from Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, all attended to oversee the competition and issue awards.