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.
2nd Progress Report Due

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 150 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 24

Challenge Updates

Virtual Spaceport America Cup Ticket Pricing and Availability

April 16, 2021, 4:11 p.m. PDT by ESRA President

To all Virtual Spaceport America Cup teams, tickets for the Virtual Cup are going on sale this Monday April 19th!

Pricing information is shown below along with some clarifications/frequently asked questions here.  There will be more detailed instructions this coming week so you can know what and how to prepare for the virtual event (hint, dust off your phone cameras and webcams...have you been practicing making videos TikTok/Twitter/IG/and Facebook over the past year?)

Ticket Pricing and Timing

Clarifications and mini-FAQ:

  1. Who needs to buy tickets? Answer: All competing teams must purchase at least one team ticket ($125).  Each team ticket includes a block of 10 individual student tickets.  Additional student tickets can be purchased at the for $15 each or additional team tickets can be purchased as needed.  The ticket price covers all 3 days of the Cup.
  2. Can non-students buy tickets too?  Answer: Yes!  Non-students (e.g. friends and family and general public) can purchase tickets for $30 which covers all 3 days of the event.
  3. What is the agenda and specific rules for the virtual competition?  Answer: We've been very busy behind the scenes lining up some fantastic keynote speakers and technical forum topics.  The agenda will be available when tickets go on sale this Monday. Also, we have also updated the competition rules document to provide further details on points and awards for this year's event. We will post the updated rules within the next week.
  4. Will we be able to interact with fellow teams, sponsors, vendors, Spaceport America, and ESRA?  Answer: YES! We've quite excited by the capability of our virtual hosting company.  There will be many opportunities for interaction during specific events as well as during downtime between events.

Looking forward to seeing you show off your designs, analysis, testing, and overview of your rockets!

Erik Gates Scholarship from Tripoli Rocketry Association -- Submit your application!

March 25, 2021, 8:15 p.m. PDT by ESRA VP

It is once again time for the Erik Gates Memorial Scholarship to be awarded.

Erik was an exemplary member of Tripoli. After launching some humongous rockets, he decided to serve the membership by running for, and being elected as, a directorship.

Erik died in a tragic work-related accident. The scholarship is offered by TRA and by the Gates family as a tribute to his service.

The eligibility requirements and application can be found at:

At the January board meeting, the Board of Directors voted to increase the number of scholarships that could be awarded this year to 3 and set the award amount to $2500 each for this year!

Applicants: Be sure to fill out the application COMPLETELY and follow the requirements. Sadly, in the past we have had a few (very few, thank goodness!) applications that, for example, did not include an ORIGINAL or SCHOOL-CERTIFIED transcript. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

2021 Spaceport America Cup Refund Preference

March 21, 2021, 3:54 p.m. PDT by ESRA President

All teams,

So far about 50% of the teams have completed the  "2021 Spaceport America Cup Refund Preference" form stating your preference to either reserve your team's spot in the 2022 Spaceport America Cup or request a refund.

Please complete this form as soon as possible so that we have an accurate record of your preferences.  

Thank you everyone.  We'll have more to announce regarding the format and structure of the virtual event soon!

Regional Launch Opportunities in the US for Spaceport America Cup Teams

March 6, 2021, 3:19 p.m. PST by ESRA VP

Hello Student Rocketry Team Leaders!

As promised, ESRA has contacted a significant number of Tripoli Prefectures who have agreed to allow student teams to possibly launch at their sites.  Attached is a listing of sites, contact info and schedule.  PLEASE SHARE WITH YOUR TEAMS!   All of these sites can support 10k COTS launches.  30k and Liquids will need to coordinate with the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) site.  The New Mexico option is a possibility and is still being developed.

Each site strictly follows TRA Safety Code and may have additional rules and safety requirements which must be followed.

Next Steps:

  • Contact the Prefecture a minimum of one month in advance to discuss your team's project.
  • Check the prefecture's website and learn about their launch site, rules and contacts.
  • Read the attached etiquette guide and prepare your team.

All it takes is a single incident to get not only your team banned but potentially all student teams... 

Attending a High Power Rocketry Launch (click to open)

Regional Launch Site Opportunities (click to open)



Scott McLaughlin selected as the new Executive Director of Spaceport America

March 2, 2021, 10:46 a.m. PST by ESRA VP

CONGRATULATIONS to Scott McLaughlin from Spaceport America! Scott can now remove the "Interim" part of his title as he has been selected to be the Executive Director of Spaceport America!!!

Forum 112
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