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2023-2024 Space Grant (in-the-)Midwest High-Power Rocketry Competition - the "In-Flight Characterization Challenge"

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Cesaroni 273H225-14A "White Thunder" motors are temporarily unavailable. Switch to Cesaroni 247H143-13A "Smoky Sam" motors instead in all materials below.

A general announcement and a competition handbook are posted below. More details provided at informational / kick-off videocons held at 7 p.m. Central Time on 9/18/23 (and repeated at 7 p.m. Central Time on 1/11/2024).

The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (MnSGC) announces its intention to run the Space Grant (in-the-)Midwest High-Power Rocketry Competition. The fly-off will be held in Minnesota, but this competition is open to college/university student teams from across the nation during the 2023-2024 academic year. This competition is an opportunity for students to design and construct high-power rockets to be launched in May 2024 from a Tripoli high-power rocket club launch site just north of Minneapolis.

2023-2024 “In-Flight Characterization Challenge” (summary description):

College/university student teams will design and construct a single motor, single stage, high-power rocket that will fly twice during the competition. The challenges are:

(A) minimize roll during the middle 50% of the coast with no moving parts (roll will be documented using a look-down camera, backed up with gyro sensor(s)), and

(B) carry a “non-commercial” (i.e. not sold for rocketry) data-logging sensor suite to monitor vehicle performance so as to make an in-flight estimate of peak altitude [and time to reach peak altitude] (AKA apogee) within 3 seconds of motor burnout (i.e. before the rocket reaches apogee). Sensors should be selected to deduce the actual air friction on the vehicle (to replace the estimated air friction value used by simulation software) and the actual total impulse of the motor (which might vary from the total impulse reported by the motor manufacturer by up to 10%).

All rockets will fly first on a Cesaroni 273-H-225-14A “White Thunder” motor (see note above), followed by a second flight which can be on any Cesaroni or AeroTech I-class motor. Both flights must reach at least 1000 ft AGL (above ground level), but not exceed 3000 ft AGL. Internal modifications (parachute, ballast, etc.) are allowed between flights, but not external modifications. Bonus points will be given to (1) teams whose member(s) increase their certification level using individually-built rockets (in parallel with the (team-built) competition rocket), (2) teams that can make a full 3D prediction of apogee location [and time to reach apogee] (including relative lateral position with respect to the launch site and/or absolute position (gps) – this will require additional sensors), not just estimating altitude of [and time to] apogee) within 3 seconds of motor burnout, and (3) teams that can transmit their estimate(s), and other performance data, to a ground station using a “non-commercial” radio telemetry system before the rocket reaches apogee. Note: All fabrication work on the rocket(s), except for possibly machining of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and/or metal parts, must be performed by students.

Logistical questions may be directed to James Flaten, MN Space Grant, U of MN,
Technical questions may be directed to Gary Stroick, Tripoli MN,



·         Kick-off/informational telecon: Monday, Sept. 18, 2023 (repeated Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024) from 7 to 8 p.m. CST (contact James Flaten,, for call-in information)

·         Garner your state’s Space Grant sponsorship and submit a (Non-binding) “Notice of Intent to Compete” by Oct. 1, 2023

·         $400 Registration Fee is due by Dec. 31, 2023, of which up to $100 will be applied toward purchase of competition motors

·         In-person Competition dates: Presentations & Safety Checks on Saturday, 5/18/24* (mid-afternoon & evening) then flights on Sunday, 5/19/24* (all day, plus an evening banquet)

·         Alternate (Weather-delay) flight date: Monday, 5/20/24* (as long as needed)


* If Minnesota has a particularly wet spring and the launch site clearly will not be useable by mid-May, the competition dates might need to shift. This will be announced in as far in advance as is practical. See details in handbook.


    - Announcement of Competition (circulated August 31, 2023):
    - Handbook for Competition (version 3 then version 4, with clarifications highlighted, posted Jan. 22, 2024):
    - Slides and link to recording from Informational / Kick-off Videocon (plus Q & A document (posted Jan. 22, 2024))
    - Non-binding "Notice of Intent to Compete" Form (due Oct. 1, 2023 - send form by e-mail to James Flaten, MN Space Grant,

   - Reports by a past year's winning team (UMD) - optional reading

   - Instructions for paying the $400 registration fee - due Dec. 31, 2023

   - "Declaration of Competition Attendance" Template (due Feb. 9, 2024) - submit by e-mail to James Flaten

   - Information about hotels and camping options, plus stores (like hardware stores) and other "local attractions"

Last Modified: 2024-01-24 at 11:08:26 -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation