Spaceport America Cup


Spaceport America Cup 2021

Join us as we host hundreds of the worlds most ambitious collegiate rocketeers in a one of a kind event.
Team Acceptance Annoucement

Challenge Overview


Over 1,500 students and faculty will gather in Southern New Mexico for the fourth annual Spaceport America Cup in 2021.  Drawn by the opportunity to collaborate and compete at a world class spaceport facility, you represented the best and brightest from more than 100 institutions located all across the USA and around the world. 

Join us as we host hundreds of the worlds most ambitious collegiate rocketeers in a one of a kind event. Part academic conference and part design-build-fly style competition, the Spaceport America Cup has something to offer students, faculty, industry representatives, and amateur aerospace aficionados alike.


The future beckons. 
​How will you answer the call?

Whether you are an academic, an industry representative, a retired professional, or simply a passionate amateur supportive of young minds who seek new horizons... there are many ways you may become a part of an event impacting the future of aerospace...

As a Sponsor...

You could interact with over a thousand talented STEM students from top ranked schools in a professional setting. You will see both them and their hardware perform in real world conditions. Furthermore, you will be helping make possible an event which helps make the best possible candidates for your company! 

As a Volunteer or Judge...

You will join the highly motivated team which brings together the thousands of moving pieces to build the worlds largest collegiate rocket engineering conference and competition. From directing crowds to directing launches and everything in-between, we need your volunteerism at the Spaceport America Cup! 

As a Student... 

You will demonstrate your hard work on an international stage, in front of hundreds of your peers, professors, and prospective employers. You will engage in design-build-fly style rocket and payload engineering competitions in a professional setting, at world class facilities, where the sky is not the limit!


Challenge Guidelines

Guidelines for Spaceport America Cup - Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) are hosted on our website! 

In particular, you'll want to review the following documents:

  • IREC Rules and Requirements Document
  • IREC Design, Test, and Evaluation Guide
  • Integrated Master Schedule

Updates 6

Challenge Updates

Official Spaceport America Cup 2021 Participants Announced!

Oct. 28, 2020, 8:58 p.m. PDT by ESRA President

Thank you for your patience, it took longer than we had originally planned, but the team list is now up! Congratulations to the 150 teams selected to compete in the 2021 Spaceport America Cup!
The complete list of teams and team IDs is available on the Spaceport America Cup 2021 event page.

Here is additional information regarding the team selection process:

Criteria for team selection – This year, a small number of teams will receive unfortunate news that their team was not accepted. ESRA will not provide specific answers to any team but will instead refer to the following rubric:

a.   Complete well detailed applications, no empty fields, proofed and well worded (not due to language differences), strong and correct data, no vague references. Essentially, an application that looked well-prepared to compete.

b.   Teams competing in an appropriate category to their skillset. For example, 1st-year teams wanting to compete in the SRAD and 30k events, complex 2-stage rockets. These teams received very strict reviews to determine if they had the certifications, experience and mentoring needed to safely compete at that level.

c.   Only a single team chosen from the same school. To avoid having a school monopolize entry slots, ESRA strictly limits teams to one entry per school even if they are in different categories. Different campuses of the same school are acceptable.

“My team was not accepted. What options do we have?”

a.   Prepare for next year by developing your team’s certifications, experience and expertise. Many countries have HPR associations that will allow rocket launches and certifications. Use this to your advantage and make sure to include this information in your future applications.

b.   Develop a strong social media presence and keep it active with your group’s latest activities and accomplishments.

c.   1st year teams are HIGHLY encouraged to enter in the 10K COTS category. ESRA judges, volunteers and launch operations leaders recognize strong, qualified and safe teams from previous years.

d.   Unfortunately, there are no options for reconsideration for entry. Selections are final.

Applications Period for the 2021 Spaceport America Cup is now CLOSED

Oct. 19, 2020, 7:37 a.m. PDT by ESRA VP

Applications Period for the 2021 Spaceport America Cup is now CLOSED. ESRA and Spaceport America officials now begin the arduous process of reviewing and evaluating the 150+ applications.

Announcements of team selections will be completed on or around October 26th.

Good Luck to all of the teams!

2021 Spaceport America Cup and Tripoli Rocketry Association

Oct. 13, 2020, 4:34 p.m. PDT by ESRA VP

The Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA), Spaceport America, and the Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA) are now formally working together to continue to improve overall flight safety and efficient flight operations at the annual Spaceport America Cup.  In addition, student teams flying in the Commercial Off the Shelf(COTS) and Student Research and Design SOLID(SRAD SOLID) categories will begin flying under TRA flight code. Details of how this impacts competing teams are included in the attached document.



TRA, Spaceport America, and ESRA all share common goals to create safe and exciting launch opportunities for the next generation of Aerospace engineers as they progress from hobby to industry environments.  Our organizations are highly aligned: ESRA provides the educational framework and administration of the world’s largest international collegiate rocketry event; TRA provides the safety/flight operations framework, incredible membership expertise and an amazing insurance program; and Spaceport America provides a world-class facility and support. Stated simply, we have assembled outstanding partners to build and safely operate the greatest rocketry competition in history.

The Spaceport America Cup has relied on the TRA safety code and membership expertise/guidance to create a safe launching environment for its event since 2017. The Cup’s Range Safety and Launch Operations teams are filled with a significant number of Senior Level 3 high power rocketry experts (>30). A growing number of competing teams utilize TRA prefectures for mentorship, certification flights and test flights of their competition projects.  



  • Student Team Liability Insurance - In previous years, students were either insured by their university or through a 3rd party insurance provider. By becoming a TRA student member and following the TRA Safety code, the student is insured by TRA’s insurance program. TRA insurance covers COTS and SRAD solid flights. TRA insurance DOES NOT cover SRAD hybrid and liquid teams or flights.
  • Student teams will have improved access to TRA mentors, certifications, and launch sites - TRA has a growing list of US and international prefectures with active launch sites. Student teams are highly recommended to engage with their local TRA prefectures for mentoring, certification flights and additional launch experience.


Tripoli Flight Rules for COTS and SRAD Solid Teams:

  1. Certified Level 3 Flyer of Record (3 options)
    1. HIGHLY Recommended - each team will secure a Level 3 certified TRA or NAR (COTS Only) Senior mentor who works closely with the team and is present at the launch. Student teams ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to subsidize the travel expenses of their mentor, to and from the event.
    2. Recommended - team will have a TRA or NAR (COTS Only) Level 3 certified student member at the launch.
    3. Last option (only for international teams who do not have access to TRA prefectures) - ESRA Range Safety team members, who are Level 3 certified TRA or NAR (COTS Only) Senior members, will virtually mentor the team throughout the year and will be present for the final flight safety inspections and launch.
  2. TRA (or NAR) Student Membership
    1. TRA Student membership is $10 per year per student. NAR is $25.
    2. The HPR Level 3 certified student or mentor shall lead and supervise all launch preparation, pad loading and recovery activities. A maximum of 5 additional team members who are TRA or NAR(COTS only) student members may be on the pad loading team, recovery team, or working with the energetics (motor, ejection charges).  These student team members do not have to be HPR certified but must be TRA or NAR(COTS only) student members.  All students are highly recommended to secure HPR certification.
    3. Link to the TRA Student Membership application

TRA Membership


Link to full announcement on

ONLY 3 DAYS LEFT TO REGISTER for 2021 Spaceport America Cup

Oct. 13, 2020, 6:29 a.m. PDT by ESRA VP

The deadline for 2021 Spaceport America Cup Registration is THIS FRIDAY!  October 16th, 2020.


ALL TEAMS MUST REGISTER - Even the teams that are returning from the COVID-cancelled 2020 Cup.  Failure to register will forfeit your team's position.


ESRA is proud to announce that registration for Spaceport America Cup is now open for all teams!  As a reminder, over 90 percent of teams from 2020 chose to extend their registration to the 2021 competition.  That means that very few spots are available for new teams to apply.  ESRA will be reviewing new entries (teams that were not accepted or did not register for the 2020 event) very carefully and announcing the full team list in accordance with the Integrated Master Schedule available on our website (see


If you're reading this, you are on the 2020 site.  Go here to register if you are a returning team!

On behalf of the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA), welcome.  The 2021 Spaceport America Cup is just beginning!

Questions! Questions! Questions! Where do I GET ANSWERS???

Oct. 2, 2020, 3:37 p.m. PDT by ESRA VP

Hello Rocketry Peeps!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE post your questions on the HeroX forums.  You will receive accurate and fastest response using the HeroX forums.

DO NOT CONTACT Spaceport America. They will only redirect you BACK TO THESE FORUMS.


-Andy Berger

Launch Director, 2021 Spaceport America Cup

VP, Experimental Sounding Rocket Association


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