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UC Irvine Races to Launch Space-Bound Rocket

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) kicked off its Moonshot Initiative earlier this week, taking another step toward becoming the first college to send a liquid-fueled rocket into space. The university received a $1 million gift from Base 11, a nonprofit STEM workforce development and entrepreneur accelerator, to fund the initiative.

Community college students (pictured) last summer spent eight weeks at UCI's engineering school learning to design and build drones.

Image: UCI News.

Last summer, five community college students from across the country spent two months building an unmanned aircraft system, or drone, and then testing it for flight at UCI, as part of the UCI Base 11 Autonomous Systems Engineering Academy, according to a UCI statement. The Moonshot Initiative is the latest effort from the partners. 

With the Base 11 donation, UCI will renovate an existing area of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering that will serve as a rocketry lab for students to “design, build and test rocket prototypes between 15 and 50 feet long,” the statement said. The university will also open “a mobile operations center and assembly trailer that can transport rockets to test sites and will allow students to make repairs off-site as needed.”

The rocket “will be built from a prefab prototype that UCI students will modify to travel 25,000 feet high and then further refine to reach 50,000 feet. The ultimate goal is to construct a rocket within two years that breaches outer space, surpassing the Karman line at about 328,000 feet,” the statement said.

Additionally, Base 11 has funded a year-round academic-year internship program for low-resource community college students from around Southern California to attend UCI on the weekend. Participating students will gain exposure to university-level engineering concepts.

As part of the partnership, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering will lead a pilot of Base 11’s STEM Entrepreneurship Program that will involve the Institute for Design & Manufacturing Innovation.

To learn more, visit the Base 11 site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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