First Nations Launch 2022

NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) is pleased to announce the 13th Annual First Nations Launch (FNL) National Rocket Competition, an Artemis Student Challenge.   This competition is an opportunity for students attending a Tribal College or University (TCU), a Native American-Serving Nontribal Institution (NASNTI), or who are members of an active American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) collegiate chapter 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 Spring 2022 competition, scheduled for April 22-24, 2022, hosts three challenges:  Gateway, Moon, and Mars.  The Gateway Challenge is a new challenge specifically designed for teams to construct a pre-selected dual-deploy kit rocket in a single semester with less intensive reporting requirements.  The Moon Challenge is ideal for teams participating in the competition for the first time or who have all new team members.  The Mars Engineering Challenge provides a higher degree of technical challenge for experienced teams and/or engineering teams.  The best performing team in the Moon and Mars Competitions will be extended an invitation for a specially arranged tour of a NASA center. One team will be selected to attend Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s RockOn! Program hosted at Wallops Flight Facility and one team will be eligible to compete in NASA’s Student Launch program Spring 2023 at Marshall Space Flight Center.   

WSGC will sponsor up to twenty-four (24) teams to participate in the First Nations Launch competition.  The faculty advisor will need to register on the WSGC website and apply to the First Nations Launch program by submitting a Notice of Intent (NOI) to compete.  The Moon and Mars Challenge NOI must be submitted by October 22, 2021.  The Gateway Challenge NOI must be submitted by December 7, 2021.  

WSGC will provide each competition team a low-powered model rocket for flight demonstration, two reloadable rocket motors, and the motor casing per competition flight parameters.  In addition, teams will be awarded up to $4,000 for travel and project expenses.  The team advisor will receive up to a $1000 stipend.   Each new school registered to compete will receive two reference resources:  Model Rocket Design and Construction Third Edition and Modern High-Power Rocketry 2. 

Teams that submit an early bird non-binding Notice of Intent to compete by September 27, 2021, may register up to three (3) individuals (advisor, team lead, team member recommended) to attend the First Nations Launch 2 Learn Level I High-Powered Rocket Certification Workshop October 8-10, 2021, at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. The workshop is limited to 30 participants. Participants receive a Level I Caliber-ISP 38 MM Rocket Kit, Motor, Level I Tripoli Rocketry Association Certification upon a successful flight, meals, lodging, and travel expenses.  Registration for the workshop must be submitted no later than September 27, 2021.  

First Nations Launch is a NASA Artemis Student Challenge program.  NASA is committed to promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math opportunities for everyone.  Interested teams do not need prior experience to participate in this program.  Those seeking help in getting started are highly encouraged to contact Frank Nobile (, FNL Technical Advisor, Mark Abotossaway ( FNL Advisor Liaison, Genevieve Bennally ( FNL Project Assistant, or Bob Justus ( of Tripoli Rocket Association.  To learn more about this unique NASA opportunity, please visit  If you have any further questions, please contact the WSGC office for more information and/or attend a Zoom Informational Meeting, September 14, 2021, or October 19, 2021, @ 4:00 pm (CDT).

Gateways to Blue Skies Competition

The Gateways to Blue Skies: Airports of Tomorrow (aka: Blue Skies) competition is NASA’s newest design
competition! The Blue Skies competition is seeking ideas and designs for the evolving airports of 2050
(focusing on the exterior of the airports) as we push towards climate-friendly aviation and new
emerging aviation markets of the future.
Finalist teams will receive a $6,000 stipend to facilitate full participation in the 2022 Blue Skies Forum at
NASA’s Langley Research Center June 1 – 2, 2022.
But wait…there’s more! As the challenge prize, NASA is offering 6 internship opportunities within its
Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate!
Through Blue Skies, NASA hopes to reach as many college students as possible. Submissions from ALL
academic levels (i.e., freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate) are highly encouraged and anticipated. The purpose of this competition is to get college students thinking about how the climate-friendly aviation technologies of tomorrow will change the airports of 2050.
For more information visit
View the Sneak Peek Flyer

NASA’s TechRise Student Challenge: 6-12th grade

Announcing NASA’s TechRise Student Challenge

NASA is initiating a new competition for the 2021/2022 school year, asking student teams to design, build, and launch experiments on suborbital rockets and balloon flights. 

The NASA TechRise Student Challenge will start accepting entries August 18, 2021. Teams of sixth to 12th-grade students from U.S. public, private, or charter schools can submit ideas for climate or remote-sensing experiments to fly on a high-altitude balloon, and space exploration experiments to fly aboard a suborbital rocket. Competition winners will receive $1,500 to build their payloads and an assigned spot on a NASA-sponsored commercial suborbital flight.

Resources for Educators

NASA and Future Engineers, the challenge administrator, will offer a series of virtual events for educators to hear from NASA experts and learn more about this exciting opportunity for students.

·        NASA TechRise educator summer workshops will dive into the basics of electronics, coding, and designing for flight. The first workshop will be Wednesday, July 28, and repeated Wednesday, Aug. 11.

·        The challenge kick-off event was held as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s 8th annual ED Games Expo. Both an excerpt of this session and the full recording are available for viewing. 

To learn more, visit the NASA TechRise Student Challenge website.

Expoplanet Watch- A New Citizen Science Project

Dear Astronomers,

We are writing to invite you and your students to participate in Exoplanet Watch, a new exoplanet citizen science project funded by NASA’s Universe of Learning and led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Exoplanet Watch relies on university astronomy students and amateur astronomers using ground-based telescopes to make observations of transiting exoplanets. This will help keep mid-transit times fresh. With more accurate timing, large observatories and space-based telescopes can make efficient use of valuable telescope time.

The Exoplanet Watch website lists nightly observation targets, but any exoplanet transit observations will work. 

Light curves generated by Exoplanet Watch are shared with the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). Observers and data analysts are given credit for their work in any scientific papers resulting from their contributions.

For more information about Exoplanet Watch, visit our website at

Tiny URL:

Join our Slack Workspace to meet our team and ask questions.

If you are interested in participating in Exoplanet Watch, please email to let us know.  Feel free to share this email with other astronomers who may be interested in participating as well. 

We look forward to studying exoplanets with you!


‘NASA STEM Stars’ — Soar Into STEM With Aerospace Engineer Dr. Andrew LindAudience: Students Ages 13+Event Date: April 7 at 2 p.m. EDT
“NASA STEM Stars” is a webchat series that connects students with subject matter experts to learn about STEM careers and ask questions about STEM topics. Join “NASA STEM Stars” for the first in a series of webinars focusing on Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) research. Dr. Andrew Lind, a research aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will share how an early love of construction toys and flight simulators led him to get his pilot’s license and pursue a STEM career studying many aspects of aerodynamics and flying machines. From studying how propellers affect fuel efficiency in college to learning about his current role performing acoustic flight tests to make AAM vehicles quieter, we’ll soar through Dr. Lind’s career path and get advice for students interested in pursuing a career in aerospace. Watch the live event and ask questions about pursuing careers in STEM.

Moon to Mars Exploration

Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M
        X-Hab) 2021 Academic Innovation Challenge Logo
Proposals Due Date: April 23, 2021

The Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M X-Hab) 2022 Academic Innovation Challenge is a university-level challenge designed to develop strategic partnerships and collaborations with universities. It has been organized to help bridge strategic knowledge gaps and increase knowledge in capabilities and technology risk reduction related to NASA’s vision and missions. The competition is intended to link with senior- and graduate-level design curricula that emphasize hands-on design, research, development, and manufacturing of functional prototypical subsystems that enable functionality for space habitats and deep space exploration missions. NASA will directly benefit from the challenge by sponsoring the development of innovative concepts and technologies from universities, which will result in novel ideas and solutions that could be applied to exploration.

The Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division will offer multiple awards of $15k – $50k each to design and produce studies or functional products of interest to the AES Division (see Section 3.2, M2M X-Hab Proposal Topic List) as proposed by university teams according to their interests and expertise. The prototypes produced by the university teams (examples of which are shown in Figure 1) may be integrated into existing NASA-built operational prototypes. Universities interested in participating will submit M2M X-Hab proposals, which will be reviewed by technical experts; subsequent down-selection will determine which projects will be funded. M2M X-Hab university teams will be required to complete their products for evaluation by the AES Division in May 2022. Universities may form collaborations to perform as a single distributed project team.

Students in the Critical Path
The M2M X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge has a unique approach to student involvement, in that the student team is placed in the NASA mission critical path for the product or technology that they develop alongside NASA researchers. Teams are required to go through a series of NASA-standard assessments as other NASA engineering products, including a System Definition Review (SDR), a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), and a Critical Design Review (CDR). With this approach, NASA is putting a great deal of responsibility on the students. This in turn gives the students a bigger stake in the development of space technologies that likely will form the basis for future systems and technologies that will be flown in space.


Proposals will be accepted from faculty who are U.S. citizens and currently teach an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited engineering senior or graduate design, industrial design, or architecture curriculum teaming course at a university affiliated with the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, or other US accredited university. Multidisciplinary, multi-departmental, and/or multi-institutional teaming collaborations are highly encouraged.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and other minority-serving educational institutions are particularly encouraged to apply. Proposals from women, members of underrepresented minorities groups, and persons with disabilities are highly encouraged.

STEM Video Contest-Win $1000

The Department of Defense is funding a video contest on hypersonics. First prize is $1,000! All you need to do is to create a 2-minute video on the potential of hypersonic flight (high school category) or the big challenges posed by hypersonic flight (undergraduate category). If you are interested, please click here for more details:

Entries are due by March 21, 2021.

California Space Grant Consortium Alumna Selected for Artemis Missions

One of our very own California Space Grant Consortium alumna, Jessica Watkins, was recently selected to be part of NASA’s initial 18-member team of astronauts  – nine men and nine women – for the upcoming Artemis missions to the moon.  She was chosen by Vice President Mike Pence to begin training for the return to the moon and explore living on the lunar surface by 2024.

Jessica Watkins was born in Maryland, raised in Colorado and went on to earn her undergraduate degree at Stanford University in Geological and Environmental Sciences. She then pursued her graduate degree in Geology at the University of California, Los Angeles and was a California Space Grant Consortium (CaSGC) fellow in 2010. Her graduate research focused on Mars soil simulant and she had several internships with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL).

“Years ago when Jessica Watkins applied to UCLA for graduate school we were thrilled as she already had shown what a great student she was in her undergraduate institution that to this day has her picture on their walls”, recalls Christopher Russell, Distinguished Professor at the Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. “We were happy to make her a UCLA Space Grant scholar. And we are proud of her achievements at UCLA which served as a stepping stone to her entering the Astronaut corps and being selected for the lunar program. Her former classmates know that she has further ambitions. She also has her eyes on Mars. We wish her well in all her aspirations and are extremely proud of her and her achievements.” 

The Artemis program is a collaborative effort between NASA and international partners to establish a long term presence on the moon. This lunar base could potentially act as a launching point for further space exploration by mankind. There is also the goal to have the first woman land on the moon. 

The California Space Grant Consortium supports the exploration of space research spanning from pre-college engagement to workforce training. We are excited for Jessica Watkin’s role in this endeavor and proud to have been a small part of her past research experience.

2021 NASA STEM Enhancement in Earth & Space Science Internship

 Current High School Sophomores and Juniors
Application Deadline: February 22, 2021
NASATexas Space Grant Consortium, and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research Summer Intern Program is a nationally competitive STEM program for high school students. The program provides selected students with exposure to Earth and space research. Interns will learn how to interpret NASA satellite data while working with scientists and engineers in their chosen area of work.
Scientists and Engineers at UT/CSR are conducting NASA supported research on astronomy, remote sensing, and space geodetic techniques to help understand Earth systems, natural hazards and climate science. This summer TSGC and UT/CSR will support a summer intern program where interns will complete distance learning modules prior to July 1, work remotely July 1-15, 2021 with project mentors prior to the on-site internship July 17 – July 31, 2021. In addition, those selected will present their research virtually in the SEES Science Symposium August 2-4. Housing, meals, and local transportation will be provided for those selected. A limited number of travel scholarships to Texas are available. The summer intern program will allow interns to view and investigate NASA remote sensing data, mission design, analysis of ice sheets, Earth’s gravity field, and other observations while being mentored by project scientists.
We are offering summer internships to motivated high school students who have an interest in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics careers. The interns will work beside NASA subject matter experts analyzing and visualizing data. This content knowledge, coupled with hands-on experiences, allows the intern to gain experience in authentic NASA research through field investigation and data analysis.
Interns are selected on the basis of their academic records, written application that includes answers to essay questions, introduction video, letter of recommendation, transcript and interest in STEM. The deadline for submitting your application for the summer 2021 internship program is February 22, 2021. For more information please contact:


We are proud to announce the launch of the Zed Factor Fellowship (ZFF), a space internship and community outreach program.

Founded by a group of space professionals from diverse backgrounds, the Zed Factor Fellowship empowers and engages learners and aspiring aerospace professionals from underrepresented backgrounds through hands-on, practical experiences working in and contributing to the leading companies of the aerospace community.

We hope you will alert all students about this innovative, community-centered aerospace internship program. Please note, not all applicants need to have a technical background – there will be some positions available for non-engineers who have a passion for the aerospace industry.  Another differentiating factor to the ZFF is that all fellows will create and conduct their own community service project, amplifying the impact of each fellowship far beyond one individual.  

Applications are currently being accepted for placement with leading aerospace companies for internships beginning in late spring/early summer 2021. More information can be found at our website, and questions can be directed to  The deadline for applications is January 4th, 2021.

We look forward to receiving applications from your institution’s aspiring aerospace professionals who may not currently see role models that represent them in the aerospace industry.  Together we will create an aerospace industry and technical cadre of professionals comprising of people of all backgrounds, creating a more inclusive, well-rounded and ultimately more impactful and effective nation and world.