United Launch Alliance and Ball Aerospace Interns,Colorado Students Participate in Record-setting Launch

July 24, 2016

Centennial and Boulder, Colo. (July 24, 2016) – A 50-foot-tall high-power sport rocket carried payloads thousands of feet above Fort Carson Army Post today at the Student Rocket Launch. Sponsored by United Launch Alliance, Ball Aerospace and the Space Foundation, the record-setting event marked the culmination of an experience designed to simulate a real-life launch campaign and inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The launch featured two high-power sport rockets built by interns at United Launch Alliance (ULA) – including the Future Heavy, the largest sport rocket to launch anywhere in the world. Ball Aerospace interns built the four largest payloads (onboard experiments/instruments), while K-12 students from Colorado created additional payloads. The Space Foundation also teamed up with Estes Rockets to offer area YMCA day campers to launch their own rockets.

“It is an exciting time to be in the space industry, and United Launch Alliance continuously works to excite the next generation of rocket scientists, astronauts, space entrepreneurs and enthusiasts,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “The Student Rocket Launch offers students from kindergarten through graduate school a hands-on opportunity to design, test and ultimately launch their creations – a simulation of the multi-year missions ULA works with our customers.”                                                  

Working on their own time, the ULA and Ball interns designed, built and tested the rockets and the payloads with the guidance of mentors from both companies. Approximately 68 interns and 22 mentors from ULA as well as 37 interns and 19 mentors from Ball participated this year.

This year’s event kicked off with the Space Foundation-sponsored launches, followed by the 10-foot-tall “Genesis” rocket and then the 50-foot tall Future Heavy. The Future Heavy carried all of the student payloads, weighing in at 1,300 pounds and generating 6,600 pounds of thrust off the launch pad.

Ball interns, collectively known as BIRST (Ball Intern Rocket Science Team), designed, built and tested the four largest payloads. This year’s concepts included: search and rescue missions via unmanned aerial vehicles, deploying an off-road vehicle and an LED light show.

“This program provides Ball and ULA interns a collaborative real-world aerospace industry experience from concept to launch in just a few short weeks,” said Rob Strain, President of Ball Aerospace. “I’m impressed with the interns’ ability to pioneer solutions, develop payloads, and integrate and fly on ULA’s Future Heavy rocket.”

Thirteen K-12 student teams from Colorado also designed and built payloads that launched on the Future Heavy rocket. The payloads include a kindergarten experiment in solar physics as well as an approximation of the Mars Curiosity rover’s entry, descent and landing when it landed on Mars.

About United Launch Alliance

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch.

About Ball Aerospace

Ball Aerospace pioneers discoveries that enable our customers to perform beyond expectation and protect what matters most. We create innovative space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely and return home safely. For more information, visit the Ball Aerospace website at www.ball.com/aerospace. Join in the conversation at www.facebook.com/ballaerospace/ and twitter.com/BallAerospace.

About the Space Foundation

Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, in support of its mission "to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity." Space Foundation World Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere® and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a Washington, D.C., office and field representatives in Houston and the Florida Space Coast. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space CertificationTM and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit www.SpaceFoundation.org, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and YouTube, and read our e-newsletter Space Watch.


United Launch Alliance

Christa Bell, (303) 269-5551 (Office), (720) 556-6304 (Mobile)



Ball Aerospace:

Jackie Berger, (703) 284-5412 (Office), (202) 215-6456 (Mobile)