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

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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 Future Heavy rocket, built by interns across ULA, blasts off from Fort Carson, Colorado, carrying payloads built by interns at Ball Aerospace as well as K-12 students from across Colorado. At 50 feet tall, the ULA intern-built Future Heavy is the largest sport rocket ever to launch in the world.

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 a chance 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. Altogether, 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 more than 1,200 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. “This launch is the culmination of efforts, from our high caliber interns and employee mentors to the K-12 teams with sponsorship from the Space Foundation?it really demonstrates that Colorado is an exciting place for aerospace today and for future generations.”

Fifteen 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

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