USU students win NASA rocket competition
Published: June 21, 2012 10:52AM
Updated: September 11, 2012 11:37PM
A team of Utah State University engineering students earned the top prize in the 2012 University Student Launch Initiative hosted by the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. USU’s Chimaera Rocket Team bested more than 500 students, representing 41 colleges and universities in 28 states, when they launched their rocket and payload at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala. Courtesy image

Engineering students from Utah State University won their fourth national NASA rocket competition in five years after launching their homemade spacecraft nearly a mile into the air.

The USU Chimera Rocket team took the top prize out of 500 students from 41 colleges and universities in April at the NASA University Student Launch Initiative in Alabama. Competition judges choose the overall winners based on design and flight results.

USU’s rocket, nicknamed “the Sturgeon,” won best overall vehicle design by the NASA peer review panel. The rocket weighed nearly 30 pounds and measured 8 feet, coming within 2 percent of the target mile-high altitude. Stephen Witmore, USU professor of engineering and faculty adviser, said working through the rocket competition will prepare them for their future careers in ways that can’t be learned through a traditional classroom experience.

“Upon graduating from Utah State, students who have participated on the Chimera team will enter the workforce having designed, manufactured, tested and flown a complex rocket,” Witmore said. “Their experience is one that relatively few college graduates can point to and will serve them well as they start their careers.”