Spaceflight Insider

ULA announces payloads for its Future Heavy intern rocket

The ULA Future Heavy rocket launch

The ULA intern-built Future Heavy sport rocket launches on its 2016 inaugural flight. Photo Credit: ULA

United Launch Alliance (ULA) has announced the student payloads that will fly on the Future Heavy intern sport rocket to be launched during the Spaceport America Cup competition held on June 20–24, 2017, at the Spaceport America facility in New Mexico.

Payload submissions were accepted from schools across Colorado with sixteen payloads selected to make the flight this year.

“We are thrilled to provide the launch platform for these bright students to perform their research and experiments,” said Greg Arend, who serves as the ULA mentor and leader of the launch project. “It is an amazing time to be in the space industry. ULA is transforming the launch industry and these students will be the innovators and designers that will develop new technologies not yet imagined.”

The launch vehicle, named “Future Heavy”, is the world’s tallest sport rocket at 53 feet (16.15 meters) tall and was built by ULA interns. It’s a multiyear project which involves interns at ULA sites all across the country.

The first flight of a Future Heavy occurred in 2016 at the same competition. Weighing in at 1,200 pounds (544.3 kilograms) and producing 6,600 pounds-force (29.4 kilonewtons) of thrust at launch, the Future Heavy successfully carried payloads from 15 student teams on its first flight.

The Intern Rocket Program is a partnership between United Launch Alliance (rockets) and Ball Aerospace (payloads) to provide a hands-on learning experience for college interns and high school students.

Participating interns have just eight to ten weeks to construct the rockets and payloads and quickly gain experience with new design concepts, manufacturing techniques, and launch procedures.

The ULA Future Heavy rocket

The ULA Future Heavy rocket on the ground. Photo Credit ULA

This year’s payloads that were selected to fly includes the following:

  • Peak to Peak Charter School Payloads– Lafayette, CO

– Make it or Break It

– Kindergarten Parachutes

– Kevlar Cases: Reliable Phone Protection?

– Descent Power Recovery

– Folding Wing Glider

  • Boulder High School Payloads – Boulder, CO

– America’s Ride Back from Space

– Falling in 360 Video

  • STEM Academy Payload –  Highlands Ranch, CO

– Round Two Design Two (R2D2)

  • Smokey Hill Area Robotics Club Payload – Centennial, CO

–MARVIn – Multiple Advanced Reentry Vehicles Inside

  • Girl Scouts of Colorado Rocketry Team Payload – Colorado Springs, CO

– G Swarm

– Team 2

  • Boy Scout Troop 127 Payload – Aurora, CO

– EDGE (Eagles Deserving Gratitude for Excellence)

  • Eaglecrest High School Payloads – Centennial, CO

– Raptor View

  • Crown Point Academy Payloads – Westminster, CO

– Flying Zucchini, 8th Grade

– Little Rockets, 4th Grade

  • STEM School Payload – Highlands Ranch, CO


The Spaceport America Cup is an annual competition open to student rocketry teams from across all over the world. Over 100 teams representing 11 countries will compete this year (2017).

Tickets to attend the 2017 Spaceport America Cup are on sale here.

Video courtesy of United Launch Alliance



Lloyd Campbell’s first interest in space began when he was a very young boy in the 1960s with NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. That passion continued in the early 1970s with our continued exploration of our Moon, and was renewed by the Shuttle Program. Having attended the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on its final two missions, STS-131, and STS-133, he began to do more social networking on space and that developed into writing more in-depth articles. Since then he’s attended the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, the agency’s new crew-rated Orion spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test 1, and multiple other uncrewed launches. In addition to writing, Lloyd has also been doing more photography of launches and aviation. He enjoys all aspects of space exploration, both human, and robotic, but his primary passions lie with human exploration and the vehicles, rockets, and other technologies that allow humanity to explore space.

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