HAUGHTON, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – When 100 rocket-building teams gather near Washington, D.C., in May for the world’s largest rocket championship, only one team will represent the state of Louisiana in the National Finals.

Haughton High School students are shooting for the stars at the American Rocketry Challenge in The Plains, Virginia, on May 20 to beat the competition to win the national championship and an all-expense paid trip to the International Rocketry Challenge at the Paris Air Show in June.

The teams will compete for over $100,000 in prizes.

Nearly 800 teams and 4,500 students from 45 states competed to earn a spot in the 2023 finals.

Haughton’s team is associated with the Haughton HS Air Force JROTC and the Starbase program. Starbase Louisiana at Barksdale Air Force Base provides students with a rigorous STEM curriculum and experience with cutting-edge technology. 

The American Rocketry Challenge is the aerospace and defense industry’s flagship program encouraging students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

To win the top prize, students must design, build and launch model rockets that safely carry one large hen egg to an altitude of 850 feet. It must stay airborne between 42 to 45 seconds and return safely to the ground. There’s an additional challenge. The rocket must separate into two parts, one containing the egg and an altimeter and the other containing the rocket motor. Both sections must land with their parachutes.

Warren “Woody Hoburg, who competed in the national finals in 2002, is piloting NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station in March.

“For the last 21 years, the American Rocketry Challenge has inspired and cultivated thousands of scientists, engineers, and business leaders working on today’s most dynamic aerospace missions,” Eric Fanning, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association said. “When 100 teams compete for the title of National Champion in May, it is fitting that a Challenge alumnus will be circling above them as an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. I can’t wait to see which team’s ingenuity and critical thinking will help them earn the title of National Champion!”

The rocketry team that takes first place will win $20,000 and another $1,000 for their school. The challenge also offers $2,000 STEM Innovation grants to eligible Title I schools to start teams.

The top 25 teams will automatically receive invitations to NASA’s Student Launch Workshop. During the workshop, students from colleges, universities, and secondary education institutions nationwide will design, build, launch, and fly a payload and vehicle components that support NASA research on high-power rockets.