AFA Congratulates StellarXplorers IX National Champions

April 24, 2023

ARLINGTON, Va., April 24, 2023—Ratatoing from Edmond North High School Air Force JROTC in Edmond, Okla., is the champion of AFA’s StellarXplorer’s National Space Design Competition.

The StellarXplorers IX season began with more than 300 teams from across the country competing in four rounds of competition. Ten teams competed in the National Finals, held April 20-22, during a challenging, two-day competition held at Space Center Houston. 

Teams had the opportunity to tour Nanoracks, a local space industry company, and experience real-world examples of the same technology used in the orbital planning, satellite design, and launch programming components of the StellarXplorers competition. Finalists also toured Space Center Houston, where they learned about the remarkable history of manned space flight and were motivated by the exciting future of space exploration.

“Space Center Houston and Johnson Space Center are the perfect place to host a Space Design Competition given their history and continued importance to the space industry,” said Rebecca Dalton, Director of StellarXplorers. “We are so grateful for our program sponsors for investing in our nation’s youth and supporting opportunities that strengthen Space STEM educational activities and the professional pipeline.”

The other top finishers from the StellarXplorers IX National Finals Competition included:

  • The second-place Flying Tigers from North Allegheny High School Air Force JROTC in Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • The third-place Pulsars from The Science Academy STEM Magnet in North Hollywood, Calif.

Click here for full the list of StellarXplorers IX competing and national finalist teams. 

“The Air & Space Forces Association wishes a sincere congratulations to our new national champions. All the students worked so hard in this competition and each and every one should be very proud,” said AFA President & CEO Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright, USAF (Ret.). “Thank you also to Gen. John Hyten, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for joining us during the awards ceremony and presenting the winning trophy. Your willingness to take the time to speak to all the participants shows exactly how important space is to our national security. We at AFA are proud to play a role in helping to shape the next generation of space operators.”

The StellarXplorers Space STEM Program is an education initiative established by AFA consisting of the National Space Design Competition and summer StellarCamps. The StellarXplorers National Space Design Competition involves all aspects of system development and operation with a spacecraft and payload focus.

The StellarXplorers National Space Design Competition is designed to inspire students toward futures in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and invites teams of students across the country to use space systems engineering principles to solve a problem remotely across four rounds of competition. Students involved in any youth organization—including high schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, scouting units, and homeschool—may participate.

Supporters of StellarXplorers include Air Force K-12 STEM, Lockheed Martin, L3Harris, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and BAE Systems. StellarXplorers Education Alliance Partners supporting the program are Ansys (AGI), Coyote Enterprises, Inc., and Space Center Houston.

“AFA is honored to host nationally prominent STEM programs like StellarXplorers, and we are grateful to our industry and government partners who help underwrite them,” said AFA Chair Bernie Skoch. “Watching the brilliant performance of these young competitors this week reaffirms that our future is in great hands and that AFA’s commitment to strengthening America’s technical workforce is producing the exact results we had hoped for.”

About AFA

An independent non-profit association, AFA is the single-largest professional military association dedicated to air and space power and to the advancement of aerospace education at every level. Founded in 1946, AFA is dedicated to promoting dominant U.S. Air and Space Forces as the foundation of a strong National Defense; honoring and supporting Airmen, Guardians, and their Families; and remembering and respecting the enduring heritage of the Air and Space Forces.