AFA Congratulates StellarXplorers VIII Champions

May 3, 2022

AFA Congratulates StellarXplorers VIII Champions

StellarXplorers VIII Champions


May 3, 2022 (Arlington, VA) – AFA’s StellarXplorers Space STEM program capped its eighth season by declaring Team Panther #3 from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., the champion of its National Space Design Competition Finals held at Space Center Houston.

The StellarXplorers VIII season, presented by Lockheed Martin, began with 375 teams from across the country competing in four rounds of competition. The National Finals, held April 21-23, featured the 10 remaining teams in a tense, two-day competition.

“These students impressed us with the complex, real-world technical issues they worked through together here in Houston,” said Sonia Phares, StellarXplorers board member and Vice President of Engineering & Technology at Lockheed Martin Space. “They displayed poise and enthusiasm, from calculating a complex budget to solving mass challenges through communication and conflict resolution. Lockheed Martin feels pride and confidence in the next generation of space professionals.”

This season was the first time the StellarXplorers National Finals were held at Space Center Houston.

Teams had the opportunity to tour local space industry facilities at Nanoracks and Leidos, experiencing 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 is an incredible venue. It embodies all the STEM opportunities our students have by competing where such historical and ongoing space endeavors take place,” said Zachary Shelton, Director of StellarXplorers. “We extend our sincere gratitude to our presenting sponsor, Lockheed Martin, and our other generous supporters for investing in our nation’s youth by developing a Space STEM educational and professional pipeline.”

The other top finishers from the StellarXplorers VIII National Finals Competition included the 2nd place finisher, Flying Tigers from North Allegheny High School AFJROTC in Pittsburgh, Pa., and 3rd place finisher The Dunkelnauts from Valencia High School AFJROTC Team #1 in Valencia, Calif. The full list of competing and national finalist teams for StellarXplorers VIII can be found here: Congratulations to the StellarXplorers VIII National Champions!

“The Air & Space Forces Association is extremely proud of all of our national finalists and wishes a sincere congratulations to our new national champions,” said AFA President Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, USAF (Ret.). “We also extend our thanks to USAF Brig. Gen. Leslie Maher, Commander of the Jeanne M. Holm Center, for inspiring our students this season and to Space Force Maj. Gen. Shawn Bratton, commander of the Space Training and Readiness Command, who as the Awards Banquet Keynote speaker assured our StellarXplorers competitors that although ‘space is hard,’ they have what it takes.”

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 home-school—may participate.

Supporters of StellarXplorers include the presenting sponsor, Lockheed Martin, as well as StellarDiamond sponsor, Air Force STEM, and StellarGold sponsors, L3Harris, ULA, and BAE Systems. StellarXplorers Education Alliance Partners supporting the program are Analyical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) with their STK software and Coyote Enterprises, Inc. with textbook assistance.


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.