April 21, 2021

AFA's StellarXplorers Announces 2021 National Champions

The Air Force Association (AFA) announced today the National Champions of the seventh season of StellarXplorers, the National High School Space Challenge. After five rounds of rigorous competition, Team “Africanized Killer Bees” of Aurora Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol in Portland, Oregon, was crowned the 2021 National Champions.

Of the original 211 teams from across the nation and two overseas locations, “Africanized Killer Bees” posted the best total, aggregate score by just a small margin. Second in the competition was the “Purple Ducks” from Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In third place was “Team Minerva” from Scripps Ranch High School AFJROTC in San Diego, California.

“AFA is very proud of all the students who competed in the StellarXplorers National Finals.  Not only were they among the top teams this season, but they competed in the midst of a pandemic,” said Lt Gen (Ret) Bruce “Orville” Wright. “My congratulations to all of our competitors who brought excitement and passion to the competition this season.”

Over the course of the competition, teams were required to define orbits, select spacecraft components, and choose a launch vehicle to meet a set of mission requirements.  All the competitors exhibited and sharpened their skills in analytics and problem solving, while the more successful demonstrated exceptional teamwork and leadership.

The Department of the Air Force STEM Program provided $23,000 in educational grants to these teams.  Grants are awarded to the top three placed teams in the National Finals.

"Congratulations to our National Champions!  They, along with all our Finalists, have shown just the capabilities needed to excel in commercial, civil, and national security space endeavors,” said Stephen K. Gourley, StellarXplorers Program Director. "We are exceptionally proud to have inspired and motivated over 3,000 students in the last six seasons to pursue education and careers in many STEM fields, not only in aerospace engineering. Our sincere thanks go to Lockheed Martin, our Presenting Sponsor, as well as the USAF STEM Program, the L3Harris Foundation, and our Educational Alliance of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), Space Center Houston, and Coyote Enterprises Inc. (CEI), without whom this outstanding program could not inspire and motivate such exceptional talent.”

StellarXplorers is an AFA program aimed at inspiring students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields using space system engineering. To date, almost half of the participants are under-represented minorities; over a third are female, a testament to the exciting and engaging nature of space and the competition.

Registration for next year’s StellarXplorers VIII Competition Season (2021-2022 academic year) is now open! To learn more about this program, visit StellarXplorers' website.