The Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), a science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) competition that tasks students with designing, fabricating and launching model rockets, will open registration to thousands of aspiring rocket scientists on September 1, 2016. TARC, which began as a one-time celebration of the Centennial of Flight in 2003 is now the world’s largest rocket contest. Now in its 15th season, TARC boasts 65,000 alumni and continues to grow each year.

“The students building model rockets in TARC are the future scientists and engineers who will launch manned missions to Mars and beyond,” said David F. Melcher, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. “AIA is proud to mark the 15-year anniversary of this phenomenal STEM program and delighted to see the future of our industry is in good hands.”

The TARC competition challenges teams to design, manufacture and launch model rockets to exactly 775 feet and back within 41-43 seconds. Rockets must carry a payload of one raw hen’s egg and return it to earth, undamaged. TARC 2017 emphasizes craftsmanship skills with students required, for the first time, to construct their rockets using two different body tube diameters. Teams that qualify for National Finals must also paint their competition rockets, a deceptively simple requirement that impacts aerodynamics and adds weight.

AIA anticipates at least 5,000 students on more than 800 teams will compete for the coveted 100 spots at the TARC National Finals outside of Washington, D.C. in May, 2017. There, teams will face off for more than $100,000 in cash and scholarships, and the right to represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge in Paris in the Summer of 2017.

Registration for TARC 2017 opens September 1, 2016 and closes December 2, 2016. Teams of middle and high school students can sign up at

TARC is organized by the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Association of Rocketry, and sponsored by the Raytheon Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Thales USA and 19 additional aerospace industry partners.