NASA will host almost 50 high school, college and university teams from 22 states at the its 16th annual Student Launch competition and second annual Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) Challenge, April 13-16 in Huntsville and Toney, Alabama. These events engage students across the country in NASA’s Journey to Mars through hands-on activities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Wednesday, April 13 – MAV Challenge
9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT

U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville
Designed to answer the need for autonomous robotic systems in space exploration, student teams were challenged to design and build a system capable of retrieving and storing samples. At this all-day event, the student teams will demonstrate the capabilities of their designs for a chance at a share of the $50,000 cash prize.

Thursday, April 14 – NASA Astronaut Presentation
9:15 – 10:15 a.m.

Activities Building 4316, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, an International Space Station Expedition 44 and 45 crew member, will meet with students to talk about his career as an astronaut. A brief media opportunity will follow.

Media interested in covering Lindgren’s visit should contact Tracy McMahan at 256-544-0034 no later than 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 13. Media attending events at Marshall must bring photo identification and proof of vehicle insurance to the Redstone Visitor Center at Gate 9, Interstate 565 interchange at Rideout Road and Research Park Boulevard. Vehicles are subject to a security search at the gate.

Friday, April 15 – Rocket Fair
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Activities Building 4316, Marshall
Student teams will give technical presentations of their rocket’s design and payload in Activities Building 4316 at Marshall.

Saturday, April 16 – Student Launch
7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (or until last rocket launches)

Bragg Farms in Toney

This event gives aspiring engineers a chance to test their high-flying creations. For a shot at a $5,000 cash prize, the student-designed and built rockets must fly to an altitude of one mile, deploy an automated parachute system, and safely land where they can be recovered. In the event of inclement weather, the launch day will be held on Sunday, April 17.

Media interested in covering the Student Launch or MAV Challenge events should contact Angela Storey at 256-544-0034 no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, April 14.

The MAV Challenge and Student Launch are open to the public and will stream live on line at:

The Academic Affairs Office at Marshall manages Student Launch, to further NASA’s major education goal of attracting and encouraging students to pursue degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. NASA’s Office of Education and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, as well as Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division of Promontory, Utah, provide funding and leadership for the initiative. The Centennial Challenges program is managed at Marshall and supported by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more details, rules, photos from previous events, and links to social media accounts providing real-time updates, visit:

For more information about the Centennial Challenges MAV Challenge, visit: