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UH Engineering Students Prep Rocket for National Competition

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Students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering and members of Team Hōkūlele are preparing to launch their rocket and payload in the national Friends of Amateur Rocketry 1030 Competition.

The students will launch their 15-foot rocket called Kuamoʻo (Milky Way) in the competition’s 30,000-foot category, a cruising altitude for some commercial airplanes.

Along with the altitude requirement, their objectives are to: launch the rocket with live video, deploy a rover vehicle upon landing and recover all components in reusable condition. 


The competition takes place June, 5, 2021, at the FAR rocketry range near Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California.

Team Hōkūlele students have been working on Kuamoʻo for more than two years as they were unable to compete last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition allows the students to put their designs to the test and gain real-world experience in aerospace engineering.

Students and members of Team Hōkūlele will launch their rocket and payload in the Friends of Amateur Rocketry 1030 Competition. PC: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering.

Kuamoʻo is the first two-stage/motor rocket for Team Hōkūlele, which was established in 2019.  The rocket is designed to reach a height of at least 30,000 feet and safely protect all of its components from lift-off to touchdown. The team also created a radio-controlled rover capable of traveling a distance of at least 10 feet after touchdown, and needed to ensure that the rover and its deployment system are durable enough to survive any sustained impacts.


Two members of the current team, traveled with the 2019 team to compete at the Spaceport America Cup competition in New Mexico. The students successfully launched their rocket named Kahekili with two experimental payloads.

Team Hōkūlele comprises two separate groups: VIP students and students from a Department of Mechanical Engineering senior design course. They are mentored by UH Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory Specialist and Project Manager Trevor Sorensen, and Assistant Specialist and Deputy Director Miguel Nunes.

Team Hōkūlele received approximately $19,500 in funding and support from several organizations, including the College of Engineering, Engineers Council of the University of Hawaiʻi, RM Towill Corporation, Fiberglass Hawaiʻi, Pacific Instruments, ʻIolani School, Coffman Engineers, Hawaiian Dredging and Universal Manufacturers. Pacific Air Cargo has also offered to transport the rocket from Hawaiʻi to California and back.

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