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Former NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin to be Official Spokesperson for $1M+ Base 11 Space Challenge

32 university teams register for the competition, with inaugural sponsors including Dassault Systèmes, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Firefly Aerospace

Costa Mesa, CA, Feb. 7, 2019 — Leland Melvin, the only person drafted into the NFL to also have flown in space, will be the official spokesperson of the Base 11 Space Challenge.  As the public face of the $1 million+ student rocketry competition, Melvin will focus on fostering greater diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and in aerospace in particular.

“Hands-on learning experiences are critical to excelling in the 21st century workforce, and we need to exponentially increase those experiences at universities across the country,” said Melvin, who completed two Space Shuttle missions. “The Base 11 Space Challenge is going to help ensure that the next generation of space innovators is just as diverse as America is — all with the excitement of teams flying to the edge of space.”

Last fall, 32 university teams officially registered for the Base 11 Space Challenge, which 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 kilometers, the edge of space, by December 30, 2021. Additional prizes worth $150,000 are available along the way.

“We are inspired by the enthusiasm with which students from across the US and Canada have embraced this audacious challenge,” said Landon Taylor, CEO of Base 11, the nonprofit parent company of the National Rocketry League, LLC, the official sponsor of the competition. “Once again, Base 11 is breaking down silos between academia, industry and philanthropy to create innovative workforce development programs.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecasts that the commercial space industry will be valued at $2.7 trillion by 2035. The mission behind the Base 11 Space Challenge is to dramatically increase the STEM talent with greater inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities, while empowering the future workforce with the education and skill-training necessary for jobs in the aerospace and related industries.

When it was first announced in June 2018, the concept of the Base 11 Space Challenge attracted immediate interest from innovative aerospace, engineering and technology companies. Dassault Systèmes signed on at the highest level, as a Chairman’s Circle Partner. Blue Origin, SpaceX and Firefly Aerospace joined as Platinum Level Partners.

In March 2019, teams will submit their overall design for their rocket, as well as full program design, including how they will fund their project, recruit new talent to sustain the project as teammates graduate, and conduct outreach in the community to increase awareness of STEM opportunities.

Full list of universities fielding teams:

  • Arizona State University**
  • Cal State Long Beach
  • Concordia University
  • Fisk University*
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Institute of Technology*
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • McGill University
  • Missouri University of S&T
  • North Carolina State University*
  • Oregon State University*
  • Portland State University
  • Purdue University*
  • San Diego State University
  • San Jose State University
  • Simon Fraser University*
  • The Ohio State University**
  • University of Alabama
  • The University of Texas at Austin*
  • The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley*
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of California, Berkeley**
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, San Diego RPL
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • University of North Dakota*
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Southern California*
  • University of Toronto (Lead), TU Wien (Support team)*
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison*

*Pending insurance     **Pending university authorization

All of the teams listed above attended a mandatory Base 11 Space Challenge Safety Training in October 2018 held in three locations, Long Beach, Calif., West Lafayette, Ind.; and Toronto. The training which featured presentations from safety experts at NASA, Zucrow Labs, Pratt & Whitney, Boeing, Cal State Long Beach and the Friends of Amateur Rocketry.

To learn more about the Base 11 Space Challenge, visit www.base11spacechallenge.org.

About Base 11

Base 11 is a nonprofit workforce development accelerator focused on solving the STEM talent pipeline crisis being fueled by the underrepresentation of women and minorities. Base 11 facilitates partnerships with industry, academia and philanthropy which deliver to employers a pre-recruitment pipeline of well-trained, highly skilled STEM talent.  By establishing Innovation Centers integrated with hands-on project based learning and STEM entrepreneurship training, Base 11 and its partners set students on direct pathways to four-year STEM degrees, well paid STEM jobs, and the opportunity to launch their own STEM related business. For more information, please visit www.Base11.com. Base 11 is a DBA of the Center for Innovations in Education, a nonprofit 501(c) 3 – IRS exemption EIN# 26-4365936.

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