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Base 11 Space Challenge

Base 11 Space Challenge

The Base 11 Space Challenge is a $1M+ prize for the first student-led team to design, build and launch a liquid-fueled rocket to space. Read Overview...
Overview

Are you ready to launch to space?

 

The Base 11 Space Challenge is a $1M + prize for a student-led team to design, build and launch a liquid-propelled, single stage rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers (the Karman Line) by December 30, 2021.
 

 

The future of the economy resides in space and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sectors.  Indeed, the global space industry is projected to top $3 trillion dollars in the next 30 years, and the White House has re-launched the National Space Council to help accelerate commercial space exploration.  Many posit that efficient and affordable space travel is essential to the human race. But the number one resource needed to support the space industry is human capital. The current aerospace talent pipeline is in crisis.

We want to dramatically increase and empower the STEM talent in the United States, and we believe you are the solution.

The Base 11 Space Challenge will motivate universities to bolster their rocketry programs and to empower students to learn far more than the theory of liquid propulsion systems by providing access to critical resources and to world-class experts.  Students will acquire expertise in rocket safety, learn how to navigate flight regulations, and develop the essential skills of teamwork and innovation that are most in demand by forward-looking companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Google, Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Dassault Systèmes, and Boeing. Teams will be encouraged to conduct outreach and provide mentorship to community college and high school students to better develop the STEM talent pipeline that includes women and ethnicities traditionally underrepresented in STEM.

Teams that participate in this Challenge will gain real-world experience in engineering, prototyping, testing, failure analysis, data management, teamwork, collaboration, and innovation. Additionally, team members are guaranteed interviews with at least one corporate partner.

Base 11 has teamed with Dassault Systèmes, who will offer their 3D design and simulation software to university teams free of charge and will waive fees for student team members to earn industry-recognized SOLIDWORKS and Catia certifications.  

 

* The Base 11 Space Challenge is sponsored by National Rocketry League, LLC, a subsidiary of Base 11.

 

Base 11 is a nonprofit workforce and entrepreneur development company on a mission to solve one of the country’s biggest problems: The growing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent crisis fueled by the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities. Together with our partners, we are leading the STEM Revolution.

Our most revolutionary idea is this: that by fostering collaboration between forward-looking industry veterans and passionate, persistent students from high schools and colleges, we can transform high-potential, low-resource college and high school students into the STEM talent that industry so desperately needs. And in the process, we can transform lives and build a sustainable middle class for ALL Americans.

So what are you waiting for? Join the STEM Revolution.

Guidelines

Prize Purse

Base 11 will distribute $1.15 million to the winning Competition Teams’ Universities over the course of this three-phase challenge, with a $1 million award being the ultimate prize for the rocket that reaches the 100 Km altitude mark by December 2021.  Smaller prizes will be awarded during the three phases for technical achievement and for innovative problem-solving.  The monies won from these competitions are intended to help teams defray some of the financial burdens associated with the Challenge. teams defray some of the financial burdens associated with the Challenge.  These prizes will be awarded as follows

  • Best Preliminary Design Award, $50,000 total purse
    • $25,000 for first place, $15,000 for second place, $10,000 for third place
  • Best Static Test Firing Award, $50,000 total purse
    •  $25,000 for first place, $15,000 for second place, $10,000 for third place
  • Pop-up Innovation Contests, $50,000 total purse
    • An unspecified number of Contests relating to different rocketry issues
    • Prizes of varying amounts, depending on the specific contest

The first team that launches a single stage, liquid-fueled rocket to reach an altitude of 100 Km wins $1M, to be distributed as directed funding as follows:

  • $500,000 in restricted funding to the university to support rocketry and other STEM-related educational efforts with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and
  • $500,000 to the student rocketry team to disbursed according to the team’s plan submitted at the time of entry.

 

Who can participate

Any team affiliated with a US or Canadian institute of higher learning can participate in the Challenge, provided they supply all the required information by the September 28, 2018 deadline.  For more information, see the Official Rules.

 

Timeline and Deliverables

The Base 11 Space Challenge is a three and a half year challenge that launched on June 6, 2018.  A $1M+ prize will go to the student-led team that designs, builds, and launches a liquid-propelled, single stage rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers (The Karman Line) by December 2021.  Students teams may buy an engine and other off-the-shelf components and may use mentors and subject matter experts to provide design critique and similar guidance.  But launchable rockets are expected to be solely the product of student teams' efforts in terms of design, execution against design, full integration, and launch.  A launch rail suitable for the scale of these rockets will be provided at the Spaceport America launch site.  Use of this rail ensures that all launch attempts will be made using identical equipment.  The timeline, phases, and associated deliverables are outlined below both graphically and in chart format.

 

Competition Deliverables

Deadline

Available for early submission?

Team Registration

September 28, 2018

Yes

Phase 1 Preliminary Design Report

March 22, 2019

No

Phase 2 Critical Design Report

March 20, 2020

Yes

Phase 2 Static Test Fire Report (Optional)

May 22, 2020

Yes*

Phase 3 Launch Readiness Report

June 18, 2021

Yes, at least 90 days in advance of selected launch window 1, 2, and 3. On or prior to June 18, 2021, for launch window 4.

Finals Event

December 2021

Yes, at the following dates:

  1. May 2020
  2. December 2020
  3. May 2021       
  4. December 2021

Interim Reports

 

January  2019

November 2019

November 2020

May 2021

No

* While teams may submit Phase 2 Static Test Fire Reports in advance of the official deadline, prizes for these awards will be conferred following the official deadline and judging process.

 

 

Entrant Application (June 6 - September 28, 2018)

All teams must be from a US or Canadian Institution of Higher Learning.  All teams and team members should review the Official Rules for complete eligibility requirements.

All teams who submit complete and timely applications by 4:59 pm Pacific Time on September 28, 2018, will be accepted into the challenge. Entry Applications may be submitted early and the first review of applications will occur on August 1, 2018. All Competition Teams that have been selected to participate in the Competition will be notified by October 12, 2018.

To complete your application:

  1. The Faculty Advisor, in collaboration with the CEO, must submit the Team Entry Form which includes the following:
    1. Primary and secondary point of contacts
    2. Completed team roster including assignment of the five mandatory roles: Faculty Advisor, CEO, Chief Safety Officer, Business Development Director, and Chief Engineer
    3. Every team member must complete the following:
      1. A signed media waiver
      2. A completed biography
      3. A head and shoulders photograph (minimum 300 dpi resolution)
      4. Students only: Verification that he or she is a current student at the team-affiliated university (verification certificate from university registrar of the type provided for health or auto insurance)
      5. Students only: A signed parental consent form if under the age of 18
    4. A signed authorization form from the university (dean-level or above) supporting the team entry and specifying how Grand Prize funds would be distributed should the team win.
    5. Evidence of insurance: see requirements here.
    6. A description of recent student rocketry activities, if any
    7. First video diary submission (see guidelines, specific questions to address are in submission form)
  2. Additionally, every student team member and the faculty advisor listed on the team roster must accept the Official Rules. To do so, click the ACCEPT CHALLENGE button at the Challenge homepage, then read and accept the Official Rules at the bottom.

Please note that as new members join the team:

  1. Their names must be added to an updated team roster
  2. They must complete and submit the individual team member forms listed in section 1.c. above
  3. They must accept the Official Rules.
  4. They must attend the virtual safety training series.

Please review the Best Practices for Team Composition prior to completing your application.

 

Phase 1: Preliminary Design (June 2018 – March 2019)

After the September 28, 2018 deadline, no new teams will be allowed to participate in the Challenge.  In fall, 2018, there will be an in-person meeting of all team safety officers.  Before the start of any prototyping or testing, all teams will be required to attend the virtual safety training series.  Furthermore, once any type of testing or prototyping starts, the safety officers from each team will be required to maintain a safety log that records all safety incidents, including near-misses, and documents remedial action(s) taken to prevent recurrence. In addition, teams must increase their insurance coverage prior to any static testing as per the Risk Management and Insurance Guidelines

By the end of this phase, teams will have produced a complete high-level design of their vehicle, with sufficient detail for each major subsystem to demonstrate the soundness of the design, supported by calculation, analysis, simulation and/or initial test data.

Throughout the Challenge, all teams will be required to provide Base 11 with regular updates in addition to Phase Reports.  Please see the Interim Update section for deadlines and more information.

Phase 1 Preliminary Design reports, associated design files, an updated team roster, a copy of the training log, and a copy of the safety log must be uploaded to the HeroX and 3DS platforms by the March 22, 2019 deadline.  Preliminary designs need to address:

  • Overall system design and underlying assumptions
  • Mass budget
  • Propellant selection and engine design
  • Engine test stand design and test plan
  • Fuel shut off safety system
  • Airframe structure
  • Flight dynamics
  • Electronics and altitude monitoring
  • Software
  • Recovery system
  • Ground support equipment
  • Safety and hazards

Teams will also be asked to describe their strategy for succession planning, knowledge retention, and outreach to community colleges and high schools to build their talent pipeline.

There will be a demonstration of a static engine test firing in May 2019.  This demonstration will be an excellent opportunity for teams to meet one another and to meet Challenge sponsors and Base 11 personnel.  In addition to observing a static test firing, there will be an opportunity to develop relationships with sponsors, judges, and other professionals in the field.  The test firing will be accompanied by a mandatory live safety session/demonstration.  The four key members of each team (CEO, Chief Engineer, Chief Safety Officer, and Business Development Director) will be required to attend, and it is strongly recommended that members of the propulsion design group also attend. Teams must increase their insurance coverage prior to the team starting static test firing and no less than 30 days prior to the Static Test Firing Demonstration as per the Risk Management and Insurance Guidelines.

Judges will review the Phase 1 submissions from each team and provide written feedback in accordance with the Phase 1 Judging Rubric in advance of the static engine test firing demonstration in May 2019.  At the Aerospace Symposium & Expo that weekend, judges will announce the first, second, and third prize winners for the best design award.  They will also with meet individually with each team.  This face-to-face meeting will allow the teams and judges to jointly review the judges’ feedback and recommended follow up actions.  It will also help judges gain a deeper sense of each team’s strengths and weaknesses.  For example, judges may recommend some team collaborations in cases where it is unlikely that sufficient progress will be made by certain teams on their own.  Or teams may come away with an explicit to-do list to accomplish before they progress onto Phase 2.  Teams will be interviewed onsite by the Base 11 documentary crew for additional video content.  Teams will have the opportunity to interact with one another and may choose of their own accord to collaborate and pool resources as they move into Phase 2.  In situations where teams do collaborate:

  • Teams are required to notify Sponsor in advance of such merger and designate one University’s Competition Team to be the remaining Competition Team; the other Competition Team(s) will be deemed disqualified from the Competition upon such notice, but the Entrants associated with those disqualified Teams may be added to the roster of the remaining Competition Team so long as all other requirements of these Rules are met.
  • Sponsor shall not be involved in how any Prize is allocated among merging Competition Teams and will award the applicable Prize(s) only to the University of the remaining, non-disqualified, Competition Team.

 

Phase 2: Critical Design

During this phase, the iterative processes of prototyping designs, testing them, incorporating test results into the next design version, prototyping the new version, etc. occur.  Due to the aggressive timeframe for Phase 2, operational and design safety must be emphasized.  

Phase 2 Critical Design reports, associated design files, an updated team roster, and a copy of the Safety Log should be uploaded to the HeroX and the 3DS platforms anytime, but no later than March 20, 2020 deadline.  Judges will review the submitted content and provide written feedback and in-person feedback at the Base 11 Aerospace Symposium planned for May 2020.  As in Phase 1, judges will meet individually with each team to review progress and to further familiarize themselves with each team’s approach.  Recommended follow up actions can be reviewed and discussed.  Teams again have the opportunity to combine with other teams as they move into Phase 3.  The Base 11 documentary crew will interview each team for additional video content.  Student team members that are graduating in May 2020 may be able to participate in the sponsor guaranteed interviews at this venue. 

Teams may submit Phase 2 deliverables in advance of the Phase 2 deadlines and will receive written feedback within approximately 6 weeks of submission.  A teleconference with the judges to review feedback will be held within approximately 2 weeks from the return of judges’ feedback. 

Static Test Firing Prizes

All teams can participate to win award money for best static test firing efforts by submitting reports for their best static test firing attempt by May 22, 2020. Team submissions will include:

  • Static Test Firing report (available at a later date)
  • Video of the test firing (per instructions in the report template). 

Judges will review the submissions and award the first place winner $25,000, second place $15,000, and third place $10,000.  Awards will be announced by August 2020 (date subject to change).  Judges will evaluate each team’s static test firing as follows:

  • Demonstrating target thrust
  • Demonstrating target specific impulse
  • Demonstrating stable combustion (i.e. minimal thrust oscillation)
  • Demonstrating full design burn duration
  • Operability of the test setup (ease of setup and operation)
  • Overall professionalism of the team in setting up and conducting the test.

 

Phase 3: Launch Readiness

During this phase, teams are collecting data, and building and refining their rockets in preparation for receiving launch approval and scheduling a launch attempt. 

There are four separate Launch Windows during which teams may attempt to launch their rocket to win the Grand Prize.  The Launch Windows are tentatively scheduled as follows:

 

First Launch Window

May 2020

Second Launch Window

December 2020

Third Launch Window

May 2021

Fourth Launch Window

December 2021

 

In order to attempt a launch, teams must have successfully submitted both Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports before submitting their Phase 3 launch readiness reports, related design files, and a copy of their safety log. 

To attempt a launch during one of the first three windows (May 2020, December 2020, May 2021) teams must submit Phase 3 documents to the judges at least 90 days in advance of the launch window. Judges will provide written feedback within 4-6 weeks and will provide review and discussion of any necessary next steps by teleconference with the team within 2 weeks of providing the written feedback.  The judges will inform the team whether or not they have received launch approval at the end of the teleconference, or shortly thereafter.

 

Days prior to launch window 1, 2, or 3

Action

>90

  • Phase 1 report and all supporting documentation (safety log, video updates, etc) successfully submitted
  • Phase 2 report and all supporting documentation successfully submitted
  • Phase 3 report and all supporting documentation submitted
  • Base 11 informed of launch intent

>60

30-45

  • Judges provide written feedback to Phase 3 report
  • Judges hold teleconference with team to review feedback
  • Judges inform team of their launch approval decision

15-20

  • Base 11 and Spaceport America each provide final approval for launch attempt, pending FAA waiver

0-3

  • Flight Safety Review

 

It is likely that most teams will attempt to launch their rockets in the fourth and final launch window, in December 2021.  In order to accommodate the larger number of launch attempts, the timeline for this window is longer.  To attempt a launch in the final, December 2021, Launch Window teams must submit their Phase 3 documents by the June 18, 2021 deadline.  Judges will provide written feedback by August 13, 2021.  Teleconferences will be scheduled with each team in early September 2021 to review the written feedback and discuss any necessary next steps.  A teleconference with the judges to review feedback will be held within 2 weeks from the return of judges’ feedback.  Judges will inform each team whether or not they have received launch approval soon after their teleconferences with the judges, and no later than early October 2021.  

 

Additionally, as teams prepare their launch readiness reports, they will prepare and submit to the FAA their applications for a Class 3 waiver.  It is anticipated that much of the information necessary for the launch readiness reports will be reused in the waiver applications.  Teams should budget at least 60 days for the FAA to grant the waivers. The deadline to apply for FAA Class 3 waivers for the December 2021 Launch Window is October 11, 2021.

 

Teams that are unsuccessful in an initial launch attempt are permitted to try again, time and resources permitting,  as long as successive attempts occur before the December 30, 2021 deadline.  Teams must request and receive launch approval from the judges for each attempt.

Once a team has a successful launch attempt, they win the $1M purse and the challenge is over. If more than one team launches at the same launch attempt and more than one team reaches the 100 Km altitude mark, the winning team will be determined by evaluation against secondary criteria. See Official Rules for details. 

 

Interim Updates

All teams will be required to check in with Base 11 four additional times throughout the Challenge, for an interim update.  Teams will be able to share their challenges and successes.  It will also be a checkpoint for safety officers to review efforts to implement the safety protocols outlined in the Safety Requirements document. 

Interim update submission requirements include:

 

Teams must submit interim updates according to the following schedule (exact dates to be provided):

  • January  2019
  • November 2019
  • November 2020
  • May 2021

 

Pop-up Innovation Contests

Throughout the course of the Challenge, there will be pop-up Innovation Contests.  These fun, short contests will be posted at the Base 11 Space Challenge site with little or no warning.  During these Innovation Contests, Base 11 and/or its corporate sponsors will post a specific topic or problem associated with rocketry to which teams are invited to respond with short, innovative solutions.  These Contests will only be open for a few weeks at a time, and responses are intended to be short, informal submissions that address the issue in unexpected, innovative, or unconventional ways.  Awards will typically be small, on the order of several thousand dollars.

These Innovation Contests will be a great way for teams to think outside the box on issues that are related to this rocketry Challenge!

 

Safety

There is an inherent contradiction between the danger of working with liquid rocket fuels and the race to be the first team to reach 100 Km.  To address this, the Base 11 Space Challenge is taking a leadership position on rocketry program safety by establishing a Safety Advisory Council.  Composed of respected and nationally recognized industry experts, this Council developed and oversaw the creation of the safety guidelines.  To establish and maintain a culture of safety throughout the challenge, there will be mandatory safety training for all members of all teams.  Additionally, every team is required to have a safety officer.  Among the safety officer’s responsibilities is the maintenance of a safety log throughout the challenge.  The safety log will be regularly reviewed by the judges.  Gross violation of the Safety Guidelines is grounds for disqualification from the challenge.

Base 11 and the Safety Advisory Council endeavor to establish and maintain a culture of safety by providing guidance and numerous resources regarding safety and best practices for working with rockets and liquid fuels.  But ultimately the responsibility and liability for a safe and rewarding experience rests with each participating team in this Base 11 Space Challenge. Please see the Safety Tab for more details.

 

 

Best Practices for Team Composition

The team roster lists a number of roles, and ideally, all roles will be filled.  Teams are encouraged to assign members to specific roles.  However, 4 student roles and 1 faculty role are required.  Specific names must be entered into these 5 roles for the team entry to be complete.  The required roles are:

  • Faculty Advisor
  • CEO (team leader)
  • Chief Engineer
  • Chief Safety Officer
  • Business Development Director (business and marketing)

Additionally, in support of active outreach and building the talent pipeline, teams may invite certain individuals from local high schools or community colleges to join the university team.  Such individuals must complete all the individual team member entry forms listed above, undergo safety training, and be listed on the team roster.  If the individual is under 18, a signed parental consent form must also be submitted.  These apprentice team members may not comprise more than 15% of the team composition

It is expected that the team will undergo changes over the course of the Challenge as some students graduate and new students join the team.  In order to manage the ebb and flow of the team composition, these best practices for team composition are strongly encouraged:

  • Teams should consist of a minimum of 10 active students and 1 faculty advisor/mentor.
  • Teams should avoid having greater than 50% changeover in any given school year.
  • Students who leave the team due to graduation may continue to participate in the challenge as a team member.
  • Students who leave the team due to graduation and do not continue to participate in the challenge as a team member are recommended to provide mentorship and support through monthly video calls or check-ins with their team.

 

Prize Details

All Prizes except for the Grand Prize of $1 Million U.S. Dollars will be awarded during the Competition and are intended to be used to offset or defray some of the expenses associated with participation in the Competition.  It is intended that the University of the Competition Team winning the $1 Million Grand Prize use 50% of funds to support STEM education with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion; and the other 50% to directly support the University’s rocketry team (through scholarships, lab equipment, materials, or even stipends to team members who contributed to the development of the successful rocket).  The Prize amounts for each competition are as follows:
 

Contest Name

Prize Criteria

Prize Amount

Best Preliminary Design

Based on Preliminary Design Reports.

$25k – 1st

$15k – 2nd

$10k – 3rd

Best Static Test Firing

Based on Static Test Firing Report and Static Test Firing Performance

$25k – 1st

$15k – 2nd

$10k – 3rd

Pop-Up Innovation Awards

TBD

$50K total

Grand Prize

First Competition Team to launch a liquid-propelled, single-stage rocket to an altitude of 100 km.

$1 Million

 

Base 11 is a nonprofit workforce and entrepreneur development company on a mission to solve one of the country’s biggest problems: The growing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent crisis fueled by the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities. Together with our partners, we are leading the STEM Revolution.

Our most revolutionary idea is this: that by fostering collaboration between forward-looking industry veterans and passionate, persistent students from high schools and colleges, we can transform high-potential, low-resource college and high school students into the STEM talent that industry so desperately needs. And in the process, we can transform lives and build a sustainable middle class for ALL Americans.

So what are you waiting for? Join the STEM Revolution.

 

 

1These Guidelines are for informational purposes only and do not constitute the Official Rules. To the extent these Guidelines conflict with the Official Rules, the Official Rules control.

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