Spaceport America Cup


Spaceport America Cup 2022

Join us as we host thousands of the worlds most ambitious collegiate rocketeers in a one of a kind event.

This challenge is closed

2022 Spaceport America Cup - Closing Awards Ceremony

This challenge is closed




Over 1,500 students and faculty will gather in Southern New Mexico for the fourth annual Spaceport America Cup in 2022.  Drawn by the opportunity to collaborate and compete at a world class spaceport facility, you represent the best and brightest from more than 150 institutions located all across the USA and around the world. 

Join us as we host thousands 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!


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


Challenge Updates

Updated Scoring results for the 2022 Spaceport America Cup

Aug. 7, 2022, 7:42 p.m. PDT by ESRA Executive Director

Over the last month, ESRA has done an extensive investigation on scoring issues and student team concerns. 

Upon further review, we found a number of discrepancies in the awarding of the efficient launch bonus. Unfortunately, because we had conflicting information between the launch spotter and recovery records, it was impossible to sort out the differences.  This issue has both helped some teams and disadvantaged others. 

Accordingly, and to be fair to all teams, we have decided to zero-out the bonus category for 2022.  By and large, this made no change to the category winners, with one exception where the runner-up did change.  Rather than remove the runner-up trophy from that school, we have decided to award a 2nd runner-up trophy in the 10K-SRAD-Hybrid/Liquid to McGill University.

Revised scores are posted on the ESRA website.

Posted Scores are Final

July 16, 2022, 1:30 p.m. PDT by Bill H -- Postflight

Hi Everyone, 

I'm happy to do my best to answer questions for your situational awareness or future use, but the posted scores are final.  

2022 Spaceport America Cup Awards Ceremony - Pre-Ceremony Live Stream has BEGUN!

July 16, 2022, 9:58 a.m. PDT by ESRA Executive Director

The Awards for the 2022 Spaceport America Cup brought to you by Sierra Space is today! July 16th. Please tune in!

You can tune in LIVE by clicking here:

#Rocket #ESRA #IREC #IREC15 #IREC2022 #SACup2022


Improve your 2023 Rocket Simulation Success - with Siemens

July 5, 2022, 1:09 p.m. PDT by ESRA Executive Director


Exciting news for teams who were unable to find their rocket

July 4, 2022, 9:11 a.m. PDT by ESRA Executive Director

Many teams were unable to recover their lost rockets.  ESRA and Spaceport America have listened to your requests for assistance.  Spaceport America security staff, a local high adventure hiking club and additional staff are organizing to have a large rocket search event very soon.  

If your team was unable to find your rocket, the search team will need as much information about the predicted location as possible to localize a possible landing location. Maps and GPS coordinates would be very helpful and greatly increase the chances of success.

A special forum on the HeroX system has been set up for teams to submit their search information, and a description of the rocket, parachute colors, etc.  This information will be forwarded to the search teams.  Updates on search status will be posted in the HeroX forums.  

Any found rockets will be shipped back to the team.  Teams will be responsible for all shipping expenses.


Frequently Asked Questions

There has been a lot of confusion on this topic, even within the leadership of ESRA.  It's important that teams understand the following roles:

Team Mentor - ESRA HIGHLY RECOMMENDS all teams have a team mentor. This mentor should be considered an expert with experience flying high power rocketry projects similar or greater in scope to the rockets being designed and built by the team. 

  • The MENTOR does not have to be an employee of the university, but it is highly recommended that your mentor should reimbursed for time and travel expenses involved in supporting the team.
  • The MENTOR should provide active onsite supervision of all major design reviews, manufacturing and testing activities as well as participating in all launch operations by the team.
  • The MENTOR is not required to be HPR certified but it is highly recommended. The Mentor's expertise and experience should be substantial enough to be considered a senior technical authority.
  • The team's FACULTY ADVISOR can be the MENTOR if he/she is qualified to do so.
  • ESRA Range Safety Staff can be a MENTOR as long as they are actively involved with the team year round.

Level 3 Certified HPR Flyer of Record - The L3 Flyer of Record is a new requirement for all COTS and SRAD Solid category rockets beginning in the 2021 Cup.  

  • All COTS or SRAD solid rocket teams MUST HAVE an appropriately HPR certified flyer of record ONSITE at the launch who will be the official Flyer of Record.
  • This Flyer of Record must provide up to date credentials for an approved HPR certification that is accepted by TRA. A full listing of reciprocity certified rocketry organizations can be found here: 
  • The Flyer of Record DOES NOT have to be the TEAM MENTOR but they must be very familiar with the specific project being launched in order to sign the flight card onsite just prior to launch.

ESRA support for the L3 Flyer of Record requirement

  • ESRA acknowledges that many international teams (Europe, Middle East, etc.) have no ability to gain access to a L3 Flyer of Record.  ESRA Range Safety Reviewers will work directly with these teams to address possible options to have ESRA provide the L3 Flyer of Record.
  • Teams in the United States, Canada and even in Australia have access to a large number of potential Flyers of Records. ESRA cannot commit to provide L3 Flyers of Record for all teams.
  • International teams should MAKE SIGNIFICANT EFFORTS to find a local/regional Flyer of Record for their project.

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.

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.

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.

  1. This is a harsh, hot, dry, desert environment with potentially dangerous wildlife.
  2. Temperatures can reach 110 F (42 C)!   Team members look out for each other! 
  3. Dehydration injuries happen every year. BE PREPARED!  WATER WATER WATER!!! 
  4. Recovery team members need to have HARD SOLED shoes or hiking boots.  Normal tennis shoes will not keep the large bush thorns from penetrating your foot 
  5. Everyone should be drinking significant amounts of water.   
  6. Any team members wearing inappropriate/unsafe clothing will be asked to correct it immediately. Failure to comply will lead to points being deducted/you may be asked to leave.

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED clothing for anyone recovering a rocket

  • Lightweight, Long Pants (Nylon/Poly)
  • Sun shade hat (Large brimmed)
  • Hiking Boots, Tennis shoes (Must be closed Toe)
  • Long sleeve, fishing-style shirt

Desert wildlife to avoid:

  • Tarantulas
  • Snakes
  • Scorpions

Clothing to AVOID:

  • Open toed shoes, flip-flops, sandals
  • Sleeveless T-shirts 
  • Shorts

Additional Items to carry with you:

  • Water, lots of it! Always have water with you
  • First Aid Kit (for your group)
  • Sun Tan Lotion – SPF 45+ (apply every 2 hours)
  • Insect Repellant 
  • Sunglasses

Click here for the detailed flyer with additional information