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.
1st Progress Report Due, Entry Fee 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 14

Challenge Updates

Websites are back up and running

Jan. 6, 2021, 8:58 a.m. PST by ESRA VP

We are happy to report that the and website are both back up and running. Technical difficulties with our hosting providers. We apologize for the delays.

Tripoli Flyer of Record Requirement - COTS and SRAD SOLID teams only

Dec. 21, 2020, 6:36 a.m. PST by ESRA VP

This is a CRITICAL REMINDER - If your team is competing in the COTS or SRAD SOLID categories, please read the message below:


Beginning with this year's Spaceport America Cup (2021), COTS and SRAD SOLID category teams will be required to have a CERTIFIED FLYER OF RECORD onsite the view the launch and sign the flight card.  

  • Rockets in either category will be flying under Tripoli Safety Code and will require an appropriately certified high power member of one of the national rocketry associations.  
  • SRAD Solids must be Tripoli certified.  
  • COTS Solids can be either Tripoli or NAR certified.
  • If your team is flying on an M, N or O class impulse motor, you will need a L3 certified HPR person onsite with your team to be the Flyer of Record on the flight card.
  • If your team is flying on an L motor, you will need an L2.

ESRA Safety officials will be contacting the teams over the next month and will be confirming your team's status.  Certain international teams who cannot access a HPR association will be assisted by their ESRA Safety reviewer.  

NOTE - Canadian and Australian teams have access to many HPR certified rocketeers in their area.  If you have not already begun your search, you should do so immediately.

The following teams need to submit their 1st Interim Reports IMMEDIATELY

Dec. 18, 2020, 10:53 a.m. PST by ESRA VP

As of today, the following 11 teams have not submitted a 1st progress report:

"15 Idaho State University"
"77 University of California Los Angeles"
"91 George Mason University"
"13 Fort Lewis College"
"14 Gonzaga University"
"132 Stanford University"
Miami University (OH)
Edmonds College
"30 Pennsylvania State University"
"27 Norco College"
"68 Washington State University, Pullman"

This is the last day for submission, the form will be shut down today at 8pm pacific. 

CRITICAL REMINDER - 1st Interim Progress Report deadline was Dec 11th

Dec. 13, 2020, 9:41 a.m. PST by ESRA VP

If your team has not submitted your report, you are losing points each day that you are delayed.

The report is available on HeroX.  Check with your team leader to ensure your team has submitted their report.


1st Interim Progress Report now available - Deadline is Dec 11th

Dec. 4, 2020, 12:55 p.m. PST by ESRA VP

Please begin working on your initial progress report and submit it NLT Dec 11th.


Submit any questions via the HeroX forums.


Range Safety and Launch Operations team members will be reviewing these reports and will be contacting your teams with feedback.  Please make sure to respond asap to any questions they send you.


Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday break!

-The ESRA Team

Forum 92
Teams 1.5K

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Accept Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

No, but it is highly encouraged.  Critical communications and updates are provided through the HeroX platform.  If your team fails to monitor these official communications, your team may be penalized or removed from the competition.  Team leads and delegates are required such that entry, progress, and final reports can be submitted prior to the deadlines.

All teams MUST read the IREC Rules and Requirements Document as well as the IREC Design Test and Evaluation Guide available on our website at   


For any specific questions, post a question on the HeroX forums and an ESRA staff member will respond.

The Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 for the purpose of fostering and promoting engineering knowledge and experience in the field of rocketry. ESRA's current focus is in the field of experimental sounding rocketry, which we define as roughly between "experimental" or "research" high-power rockets and sounding rockets capable of reaching space (generally defined as 100 km altitude).

ESRA hosts Spaceport America Cup - Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) for teams from across the USA and around the world.

More information can be found at our website

ESRA hosts the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) for student rocketry teams from across the USA and around the world. With a payload size of 8.8 pounds and target altitudes of either 10,000 or 30,000 ft. above ground level, competing rockets are typically 4 to 8 inches in diameter and 8 to 20 ft. long. Multistage rockets and all chemical propulsion types (solid, liquid, and hybrid) are allowed.

Beginning in 2017, ESRA's Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) became the flagship activity of a new annual event called the Spaceport America Cup (SA Cup).

More information can be found on our website at

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.