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 21

Challenge Updates

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!!!

2nd Progress Report Form is Live!

March 1, 2021, 8:42 p.m. PST by ESRA President

The 2nd progress report form is now available on HeroX!  This 2nd progress report and the Final Report are the next major milestones as we head toward the virtual competition ;)  We have a lot in store as we're gearing up for the event. Get your update in to document the progress you have already made.  Stay tuned for more information about the competition...there's a lot happening behind the scenes.


Remember, the due date is as posted on the timeline.  Astute readers will know about the grace period in the IMS...have you read it? 

Spaceport America Cup 2021 is going Virtual!

Feb. 17, 2021, noon PST by ESRA President

After carefully considering global pandemic conditions, current restrictions on travel, and feedback from the teams, ESRA and Spaceport America are officially announcing that Spaceport America Cup is going virtual this year with the "2021 Virtual Spaceport America Cup Competition"!    We feel strongly that this virtual event will help to maintain momentum and give all participating teams a chance to compete and show off all you've learned and accomplished.  Plus, this will be more than just a competition...see below.

The virtual competition will take place on June 18th, 19th, and 20th.  

The competition will include technical paper submissions, technical podium presentations, and poster session reviews.  Teams will compete for non-flight technical awards as well as the overall 2021 Virtual Spaceport America Cup trophy.

In addition to the competition, we will feature keynote speakers and special technical forums on a variety of topics, something ESRA has never offered before.  The virtual event will also permit students to interact with our sponsors and vendors in forum and recruiting sessions.

Because the 2021 flight event is cancelled, we will provide the opportunity to reserve your deposit and slot for the 2022 competition or request a refund.    Stay tuned to Herox for more details as they become available.

ESRA listened to many teams and students last year, in particular the graduating Seniors, who were upset they could not see their projects launch.  As a result, ESRA has partnered with SEDS (Students for Exploration and Development of Space) and TRA (Tripoli Rocketry Association) to create some limited opportunities for launches at regional Tripoli Prefectures around the US.

Please refer to the Runkle Regional Rocket Competition site on HeroX for additional information:

Please direct all questions regarding SEDS and Tripoli events to the HeroX website or send an email to 

We hope you will join us and keep the competition alive as well as interact with some pretty amazing sponsors, guests, and vendors too.

2021 Tripoli Rocketry Association Annual Erik Gates Memorial Scholarship

Feb. 11, 2021, 7:53 p.m. PST by ESRA VP

The Tripoli Rocketry Association is a 501(c)(3) corporation involved in supporting hobby rocketry. One component of its charter is the furthering of educational opportunities that are part of this high tech hobby.

As one part of this mission, the Tripoli Rocketry Association has created a scholarship fund in honor of past Director Erik Gates. Erik lived a full and active life, but died in a tragic work-related accident. His contributions to promote high powered rocketry and represent our hobby in a professional and positive manner will forever be appreciated.

The Erik Gates Memorial Scholarship Fund annually awards an educational scholarship to assist in the continued education of the award recipient.

If you or a family member is interested in pursuing this scholarship please look at the eligibility requirements and information on how to submit an application.

For additional information and to apply - 

Erik Gates

Applications must be received on or before June 30, 2021.

Forum 108
Teams 1.7K