Maui News

UH Community College Students Earn 1st Place in Rocketry Competition

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Project Imua’s first place rocket (left); and Project Imua team in Nevada. Nikki Arakawa front right. (right). Photos Courtesy: Tahoma Photography 2021

A team of students from multiple University of Hawai‘i campuses took first place in a rocketry competition held in Nevada recently. 

The UH Community Colleges’ Project Imua Mission 9 team won the extreme altitude hybrid motor competition with the launch of its 12-foot, eight-inch hybrid rocket, named “Apophis” after the Egyptian god of chaos.

The Project Imua team composed of 17 students and six mentors worked on the project for two years, due to pandemic related delays and cancellations. Windward Community College’s student team designed and built the rocket and students from Honolulu Community College designed an atmospheric sensing payload that was carried aboard Apophis.


The rocket and payload were finally launched in September 2021 in Black Rock, Nevada as part of the Association of Experimental Rocketry of the Pacific competition.

The Project Imua team won the altitude contest for the hybrid-motor class rockets after Apophis attained an apogee of 3,413 feet.

Project Imua (“to move forward” in Hawaiian) is a joint faculty-student enterprise of two UH Community College campuses (Honolulu CC and Windward CC) in affiliation with the Hawai‘i Space Grant Consortium. Its primary mission is to develop small payloads for space flight while providing undergraduates with project-based learning opportunities in STEM fields. 


Windward CC rocketry team members Nikki Arakawa and Quinn O’Malley also each placed second in the Extreme Altitude Contest for solid rockets (in different classes) that each built and launched at the AERO-PAC competition. 

The two campuses are currently collaborating on Project Imua Mission 10 to develop a scientific payload that will be launched into sub-orbital flight this summer from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This will be Project Imua’s fourth payload launched into outer space. Mission 10 is funded by the Hawai’i Space Grant Consortium.


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