Space consortium, headquartered at UW-Green Bay, presents rocket launch contest

The third annual First Nations national rocket competition is set to blast off Saturday, April 28 at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area near Burlington, Wis.

Organized by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, headquartered at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the First Nations Launch will include two separate contests: the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) Chapter High Powered Rocket Competition, and the Tribal College High Powered Rocket Competition. Both will be held during a 9:15 a.m.-4 p.m. launch window at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area, 26313 Burlington Road, Kansasville.

The First Nations Launch is expected to involve six teams from six schools, three each for the Tribal College Competition and the AISES Competition. Tribal College teams are Haskell Indian Nations University (Lawrence, Kan.) with eight members; Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Cloquet, Minn.), with five members; and Leech Lake Tribal College (Cass Lake, Minn.) with five members. The AISES competition will feature the seven-member University of Minnesota-Twin Cities team, along with teams from NorthWest Indian College (Bellingham, Washington), 15 members; and UCLA, (Los Angeles, Calif.), 11 members.

The tribal rocket launch competition is taking place alongside Space Grant’s 2012 Collegiate Rocket Design Competition — combined with a pilot Regional Space Grant Competition — which will involve nearly two-dozen teams from 14 colleges and universities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio. Spectators are welcome to attend the launches, and admission to the park is $7. A launch hotline, (262) 677-2249, will have a recorded message verifying the launch will occur. Tailgating is encouraged, as there are no stores or restaurants located near the Bong Recreation Area.

The AISES and Tribal College competitions have different parameters and criteria for success, and final scores for each will be based on design analysis (30 percent), an oral presentation (15 percent), the flight itself (40 percent) and a post-launch assessment of data results (15 percent). Final results from the launch competition will be made available in several weeks, after participating teams are required to file their post-mission reports. Results will be posted on the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium website,

The First Nations competition also includes an Aesthetic Award, which will be given to the team whose rocket has the most innovative and professional appearance; as well as a Team Spirit Award, which will be given to the team that shows interactive spirit, helpfulness and cooperation. All competing tribal college teams will vote on this award.

The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium is a NASA-supported endeavor aimed at delivering education, research and outreach programs to assist in training America’s next generation of aerospace professionals. The First Nations component of the college rocketry program is designed to encourage Native Americans to pursue studies in what are termed the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Those involved say it also counters negative stereotypes that native people may stay rooted in only traditional ways, and shy away from space-age technology.

For more information on the First Nations launch competition, visit


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