Huntsville High Team Advances to Finals in National Space Challenge

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A local Air Force JROTC team from the Rocket City will represent the state of Alabama in the National Finals of the StellarXplorers National High School Space Challenge.

The Huntsville High School Air Force JROTC team is one of only ten teams in the nation who will compete for the top spot in Colorado Springs, Colorado the weekend of April 12. The first round of the 2019 Space Challenge began earlier this year with 216 teams from across the country competing.

Following three challenging rounds of solving real world problems that involved all aspects of launching a satellite, only ten teams remained. In addition to the team from Huntsville, Alabama, the other team finalists are from California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, and Georgia.

Huntsville JROTC instructor Lt. Col. David Murphy says the team has worked very hard to reach this level and he “thought they could do well from the beginning,” but added that “they have exceeded my expectations.” Rodrigo Ortega, the students’ team director, said that practicing everything they have learned over and over again is a part of what has brought the group this far.

The eight-hour long final competition will cover satellite design, orbit planning and launch operations. The StellarXplorers Program is designed to provide a hands-on space design challenge that involves all aspects of space systems development. In partnership with the Air Force Association, the goal of the program is to inspire high school students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

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