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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...

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.

Updates 52

Meet the Space Challenge Phase 1 Evaluators

Oct. 16, 2019, 3:10 p.m. PDT by Christine Byrd

We’re delighted to introduce you to the evaluators who have been poring over thousands of pages of Phase 1 Reports from the Base 11 Space Challenge teams. They cover a wide range of expertise, and we are deeply grateful to them for dedicating their time and energy to support the students in the Base 11 Space Challenge. Their feedback on the Phase 1 PDRs will be rolling out to teams over the next few days.


David Abmayr is a chemist for ExxonMobil. A Level 3 certified rocketeer with the NAR and Tripoli and has been an advisor for SLI teams. David is the Prefect for Tripoli Houston since 2016 and is a TAP for Tripoli Level 3 certifications. He has his bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Rice University.


Andy Berger is the senior liaison for the Base 11 Space Challenge. In addition, he is on the Board of Directors for Davinci Maker Labs and has spent nearly 30 years in the Biomedical Engineering and Information Technology fields. He has a Master’s Degree in Information Technology and is a NAR and Tripoli Level 3 high power rocketeer. He is also the former Prefect for Tripoli Houston and is a proficient research motor propellant enthusiast. He has worked with high school and university student rocketry programs for over 15 years including a successful Guinness World Record in 2010. Andy is the Vice President and Launch Director for the Spaceport America Cup and has written for Rocketry Magazine. Andy is a regular participant at AIRFest and has flown HPR rockets at LDRS and BALLS.


Benjamin Coulomb is a test engineer at Blue Origin working on development and qualification of the BE-3 and BE-3U engines. He previously worked at United Launch Alliance as a test engineer supporting Vulcan development, component qualification for ICPS, and Atlas V qualification testing for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew capsule. Ben’s passion for engine development started while working at XCOR Aerospace on the design and testing of the XR-5K18 and XR-5H25 engines as well as the Lynx sub-orbital spacecraft. He has a bachelor’s in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University.


Nick Galano is one of the Launch Chief Engineers at SpaceX. As a Launch Chief Engineer, Nick steers the  company’s mission readiness prior to launch and together with the Launch Director guides the countdown in the control room up until T0 on launch day. As a manager in the Reliability organization, he has developed cross functional teams across all disciplines from Propulsion, Composites, and Launch. Previously, Nick spent four years as a Design Engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. He has a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley while working on a master’s in computer science Georgia Tech.


Chris Harris, President of Davinci Maker Labs, Level 3 high power rocketry expert, worked multiple large projects with NASA/JSC, FCC Licensed Amateur Radio Technical Operator, Laser optics expert and project lead for multiple Rice University driven research projects, including composite‐metal bonding. Chris is a regular flyer at AIRFest and has flown large projects at BALLS. Chris provides instruction and expertise in Solidworks, CAM, electronics design and manufacturing, RF communications/telemetry (including video), as well as CNC machining. Chris works very closely with mentoring Brazoswood High School SystemsGO teams as well as Texas A&M University. Chris has additional expertise in 6 DOF modeling using RockSIM Pro and has provided significant technology upgrades to the Spaceport America Cup including upgraded communications systems, recovery team GPS tracking and ballistic entry warning systems.


Mark Holthaus has worked as an electrical engineer for Hughes Aircraft for 10 years; a reliability engineer for Rockwell International for 10 years; and as a reliability, safety, and flight termination engineer for The Boeing Company for 22 years. He has worked on aircraft such as the F-14, F-15, and X-51A; and space vehicles like the U.S. Space Shuttle, U.S. Space Station, X-33, X-37 ALTV, ALASA and XSP. He has volunteered as a mentor to engineering students at Cal State Long Beach for more than 15 years. Mark has been active in amateur rocketry since 1995, starting as a team member with the Spacefarer project, a proposed bipropellant liquid rocket designed to reach 60 miles. The Spacefarer held an amateur record of 120,000-lb-sec total-impulse for about 15 years. Mark holds a license from the California State Fire Marshal’s Office, thePyrotechnic Operator, Rockets – 1st Class, which license enables him to legally supervise and launch commercial and experimental rockets utilizing solid, liquid, and hybrid motors/engines in the state. In 2003, Mark was part of a small group of rocket enthusiasts that formed the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR). Mark is both a director and treasurer of FAR. FAR’s mission was established to support STEM education through static firing and launch of amateur rockets. He is the lead pyrotechnic operator and head of safety for the FAR Site, which is a 10-acre test site in the Mojave Desert established by FAR, which hosts numerous college and university student rocketry teams.


Jeffrey Kincaid was employed by Rocketdyne from 1972 until he retired in 2015. As Vice President of Engineering, he was responsible for the technical excellence of diverse rocket propulsion, space and land power programs. Before that, Jeff served as Chief Engineer for Rocketdyne, Chief Engineer of the RS-68 Engine for the Boeing Delta IV program and Chief Engineer of the Linear Aerospike engine for the NASA/ Lockheed-Martin X-33 program. He also served as the Director of structural analysis, structural dynamics and aerothermodynamics for the Space Shuttle Main Engines. He is currently a technical consultant for Rocketdyne liquid rocket engine programs. Jeff has a BS degree in Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a Certificate in Program Management from West Coast University. Jeff decided he wanted to be a “rocket scientist” at the age of 7.  As such, he is looking forward to becoming one of the first 1,000 people to enter space, aboard Virgin Galactic’s rocketplane in the near future.


Brian Kulwik is a propulsion development engineer at Blue Origin, working on the New Glenn second stage reaction control system. Brian led a nitrous oxide/paraffin hybrid rocket team at the University of Michigan. Through that, and his work at Blue Origin, he has developed a passion for rocket propulsion -- systems design and modeling, CFD code development and analysis, and hands-on experimentation and test. He has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan.


Randy Marek is a board of director at Davinci Maker Labs.  He is a licensed control systems engineer with 40‐years of experience providing engineering and project management services to large scale Chemical and Oil/Gas industry sector world‐wide. He is a FAA licensed Private Pilot with an Instrument Rating, FAA Basic Ground Instructor, Tripoli Rocket Association Level 3 high power rocketry and FCC Licensed Amateur Radio Extra operator. Randy’s radio solutions provided the foundation for the recovery team tracking solution for Spaceport America Cup. He is a prolific technical documentation writer and editor. Randy’s most recent field work has focused on structural strength/weight engineering issues for rocket airframe. Randy is also a subject matter expert on regulatory bodies including the FAA, FCC, ATF and others. Randy is also the mentor and advisor for the University of Houston Spaceport America Team and the Brazoswood High School SystemsGO teams. He has launched many of his advanced HPR projects at AIRFest and BALLS.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.


Dean Marsh is the Managing Director, North America for Dassault Systèmes the 3DEXPERIENCE Company. Dassault Systèmes is the world leader in 3D design software, 3D Digital Mock Up and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions, providing businesses and individuals with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. Dean is responsible for driving the business in North America which represents approximately 30% of the company’s $3.8B in revenue. Dean joined Dassault Systèmes in 2017 with over 20 years of experience in global sales, services, development and marketing.  Most recently, he worked at IBM as Vice President, Global Cloud Solutions Services before becoming Vice President, Client Success for IBM Analytic Solutions. Dean holds a Master of Science in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and a B.S. in metallurgy and materials science from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.


Joseph Mattingly is a propulsion development engineer at Blue Origin working on development for the BE-3 and BE-4 engine families, supporting New Shepard flight operations. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


Chas Miller is a Spaceport Engineer at Spaceport America supporting business development and flight operations. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, Chas served for over 20 years as a VLSI design engineer and project manager at Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies, and as an FPGA applications and training engineer at Lattice Semiconductor. In 2006, Chas moved to New Mexico to begin graduate studies in planetary astronomy at New Mexico State University. As a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow, he conducted original research on the surface properties of Saturn’s moon Phoebe, modeled the atmospheres of Triton and Pluto, and simulated the dynamics of the LCROSS lunar impact plume. Chas earned his doctorate in 2013 from New Mexico State University and joined Spaceport America in 2019.


Adam Trumpour is a concept designer for Pratt & Whitney Canada, where he supports systems integration and mechanical design for a range of aircraft turbine engines and is involved in the research and development of experimental hardware. He is also a founding partner of Continuum Aerospace, a small company devoted to engineering consulting and developing innovative rocket propulsion systems for suborbital, micro-satellite and space tourism markets and has performed studies related to rocket propulsion and space launch for the Canadian Space Agency and other government and private entities. In his spare time, Adam participates in amateur rocketry activities focused on liquid propellant engines, mentors student rocketry teams, and works to advance the cause of entrepreneurial space and rocketry in Canada. He is the president of the Launch Canada Rocketry Association, an advisor to the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association, and served as a technical designer for the Base 11 Space Challenge. Adam earned his Master of Applied Science in aerospace engineering from Ryerson University and his bachelor’s in engineering science from the University of Toronto.


Richard Wills has over 35 years of extensive experience in US Air Force acquisition and technology development. His career started in acquisition where he participated in the following programs: C-17, Air Force One, CV-22, the special operations C-130 Combat Talon, and was lead propulsion engineer for the C-5 Re-engining. His laboratory experience started with direct connect high enthalpy testing. He then researched and developed fuels for high speed vehicles. Richard offers experience in technology development and testing in the high-speed flight regime. Richard holds a bachelor's in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from The Ohio State University and an MBA with a project management concentration from Wright State University.


Please join us in thanking them!

REMINDER - November 29, 2019 is the final date to submit static HOTFIRE testing documents (test stand design and procedures)

Aug. 3, 2019, 12:44 p.m. PDT by Andy Berger

Teams have 3 months to complete this critical requirement so please don't forget.  Your team will not be allowed to proceed if you do not submit your design by this date. As of today, only two teams have completed this requirement.

Approval to Begin Static Test Firing

Static test firing of engines is a critical part of the Base 11 Space Challenge  but it is also one of the most hazardous steps in the process of building a rocket.  Prior to performing any static test firing of engines, teams must submit their engine test stand design and static test firing procedure for review.  The National Rocketry League, LLC., the Safety Advisory Council, and the judges will review test stand design and test firing procedure to ensure that they are acceptable and well thought out.  This review is a straight-forward go/no go decision. Teams must receive approval before any test firing attempts are made.  Review of a team’s test stand design and test firing procedure can occur anytime after November 2018.  The deadline for submitting designs and firing procedures for review is November 29, 2019. Additional information can be found the document Requirements for Static Test Firing Approval.

Phase 1 Finalists!

June 12, 2019, 1:18 p.m. PDT by Tia Tucker


We have been thrilled with the overwhelming response and quality of submissions for the Phase 1 PDR. You should be very proud of your team and all of your colleagues in this competition! A wide variety of innovative designs were submitted, and the judging process has been difficult!

*******Drumroll Please*******

Phase 1 Finalists:

Concordia University

Portland State University

University of British Columbia

University of California - San Diego

University of Michigan

Look out for comments and feedback from the judging panel on your submission in the next few weeks.

The finalists will be presenting at the Next Frontier event at Caltech on June 24, where the winners of $50,000 in prizes will be announced!


Also at the NEXT FRONTIER event......

-Hear the keynote from NASA astronaut and former NFL wide receiver Leland Melvin

-Network with Space Challenge Partners including special guests from Blue Origin, NASA, and Dassault Systèmes

-Meet rocketry enthusiast who are excited about student-led challenge activities


If you haven't registered yet, here's the link:



Win up to $1k in Cash Prizes: The B11 Space Challenge Social Media Challenge!

May 30, 2019, 4:09 p.m. PDT by Jade Kim


YOU ARE INVITED to the NEXT FRONTIER TOUR with NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin

April 15, 2019, 4:44 p.m. PDT by Tia Tucker


Hi Space Challengers!


For more info visit: 



Already on-board? Register here



  • Maximum of 3 attendees per team/school
  • Yes, Phase 1 winners will be announced at the event
  • No, this event is not mandatory
  • No, funding is not provided for travel 
  • Yes, Phase 1 finalist will be notified before this event


Tip: there will be an opportunity to meet with some of our industry partners, so get those digital portfolios and resumes ready! 


Please email spacechallenge@base11.com if you have questions. 

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