By Jade Kim, Operations Administrator at Base 11

More than 120 attendees from a dozen schools and 26 companies, all united for one reason: to officially launch the $1m+ Base 11 Space Challenge. 

The event was held on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, in Compton, Calif. The museum is known for empowering low-resource students to pursue opportunities in aerospace and aviation, making it the perfect setting for the launch.

One of the major goals of the space challenge is to increase minority participation in aerospace-related industries, reinforcing Base 11’s overall mission to increase the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM fields.

“Space exploration is the new economic frontier and should be open to all – not just big business, government and the ultra-rich,” said Landon Taylor, CEO of Base 11, and founder of the student competition. “That’s why we’re leveling the playing field by partnering with industry, academia, government and philanthropy to empower high-potential low-resource students across the country with the mindset, skills, and resources they need to stake their claim on what is forecasted to become a $2.7 trillion industry in the next 30 years.”

The challenge will award $1 million to the first student-led university team to design, build, and launch a liquid-propelled, single-stage rocket to an altitude of 100 km (the Karman Line edge of space) by December 30, 2021. An additional $150,000 in prizes will be given for overall program design, best static test fire, and pop-up innovation challenges.


Visionary leaders from industry, academia, and philanthropy joined together to make the announcement. Speakers included the FAA’s Michelle Murray, Dassault Systemes’ Al Bunshaft, Spaceport America’s Dan Hicks, and Cal State Long Beach’s Forouzan Golshani.

It would not be a proper launch event without an actual astronaut, so it was an honor to be joined by Leland Melvin, former NASA Astronaut, former head of NASA Office of Education, and author.

“As a space explorer, I’m so excited to be present for this exciting Base 11 announcement that will help inspire our next generation of explorers. I can’t wait to hear 3-2-1 liftoff and watch a student built rocket head to the Cosmos. Godspeed Base 11 on this epic journey,” said Leland.

Rocketry students who will be participating in the space challenge also joined the event, allowing the audience to hear from actual participants.

“Now it is the students’ turn to make their mark and move the world forward for space exploration,” said Purdue’s Rocket Club President, Christopher Nilsen.

“We are incredibly thankful to Base 11 for recognizing this feat that has not been done to get into space by students alone,” said Berkeley’s Space Enterprise co-founder, Paul Shin.

After the announcement, attendees enjoyed tours of the TAM facilities, riding in flight simulators, and even snacking on liquid nitrogen ice cream.

To get  inspired by the determination and ambition  on display, just check out this video from student teams in the US and Canada:

Space travel has long been a hallmark of human ambition, and it is an honor to help usher in the next generation of explorers and innovators.

If you would like to join the Base 11 Space Challenge and help launch students into space, you can sign up, mentor, or support the challenge here: