NASA has announced the winners of the 2015 NASA Student Launch challenge, held April 11 near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Thirty-five teams from middle schools to universities demonstrated aerospace and engineering skills, while vying for prizes, awards and a lifetime of bragging rights. The top winners of this year’s challenge are:

First Place: Vanderbilt University, of Nashville, Tennessee
Second Place: The University of Louisville, of Kentucky
Third Place: The University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Rookie of the Year: The University of Massachusetts, of Boston 

Corporate sponsor Orbital ATK Aerospace Group, Promontory, Utah, also presented preliminary awards during an April 10 banquet. Those winners and awards are:

Best Web Designs:Best Vehicle Design: The University of Louisville won with the most creative, innovative and safety-conscious rocket design.

Safety: The University of Louisville won for maximizing safety and science value in their design.

Project Review: The University of Louisville won by having the best combination of written preliminary design, critical flight readiness reviews and formal presentations.

Autonomous Ground Support Equipment:Vanderbilt University won with the best mechanical and electrical ground support system.

Education Engagement: Citrus College of Glendora, California, won by best informing others about rocketry and other space-related topics.

High School Division: Durham Area Rocketry Team of North Carolina

College Division: Vanderbilt University

Altitude Awards:

High School Division: Spring Grove High School of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, won by reaching 5,291 feet, just 11 feet over the target altitude of 1 mile or 5,280 feet. 

College Division: The University of Arkansas of Fayetteville, came closest to the target goal of 3,000 feet at 3,014 feet.

Best-Looking Rocket Awards:

High School Division: The Durham Area Rocketry Team

College Division: Iowa State University of Ames

Team Spirit Awards:

High School Division: Krueger Middle School of San Antonio, Texas

College Division: The U.S. Naval Academy of Annapolis, Maryland

Rocket Fair Awards:

High School Division: Madison West Rocketry (Land-Imaging) of Madison, Wisconsin

College Division: The University of Alaska – Anchorage

New to this year’s Student Launch event was a partnership with the NASA Centennial Challenges program, which offered the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) Challenge as a parallel competition. Fifteen college and university teams competed for a total of $40,000 in potential prize money in the MAV Prize, To read about the MAV Prize and its winning teams, visit:

Student Launch is managed by Marshall’s Academic Affairs Office and supported by the NASA Office of Education, the Human Explorations Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Centennial Challenges, the Space Technology Mission Directorate and Orbital ATK Aerospace Group.

The Centennial Challenges program is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and is managed at Marshall. Since 2005, the program has awarded more than $6 million for significant advances in technology.

For more information, visit: and

Archived launch-day footage is available on the Marshall Center’s Ustream account: