Common Questions

What is the Student Astronaut Challenge?

 The Student Astronaut Challenge is an aerospace-related High school and Middle school STEM competition. Student teams of five initially participate in a test based run-off competition. The top fifteen High school and the top fifteen Middle school teams then compete in a four event final competition that is held annually at the Kennedy Space Center.  

What are the events in the final competition?

Event One: - Space Flight Simulation Challenge: three rounds (including a semi-final and final) where teams are required to perform the pre-flight operation, launch, orbit and landing of the Space Shuttle Enterprise flight simulator and the operation and responsibilities of the mission control team. During the semi-final and final rounds, students are provided with in-flight emergencies that must be managed to safely complete their mission.

Event Two - Engineering Challenge: a hands-on challenge where students are provided an aerospace related problem. Working as two teams – mission control and Skylab flight crew - they are required to use teamwork and collaboration to solve a series of challenges and reach a solution.

Event Three - Design Challenge (previously known as the Lab Challenge): a physical design challenge to solve a specific space-related issue. Teams submit a typed design proposal due approximately 2 weeks before the finals competition and present their solution, including a prototype model, to a team of judges during the competition.

Event Four - Landing Simulation Challenge: two rounds (including run-offs and finals) where team members work in pairs to perform one of three types of landings of the Space Shuttle Enterprise flight simulator and the operation and responsibilities of the mission control team. 

How do I get started?

  • Each team must have a school representative that will act as the primary sponsor. Only one sponsor is required per school or organization.
  • The run-off competition consists of a 75 multiple choice question test based on the Student Astronaut Challenge textbook located under the website "Run-off Registration" menu option. 
  • Students compete as a five person team, each individually taking a different version of the test. The average score of the team is used to obtain their ranking and determine if they qualify to participate in the final competition. 
  • The run-off  competition will be held in North, Central, and South Florida as well as North and East Georgia and it normally occurs in September. The specific date of the Run-Off competition will be posted on the website, Teams must register and pay the $50.00 per team fee on the website. Schools may register as many teams as they wish.
  • Teams can be formed from any public or private school. Teams  from non-school affiliated clubs or home-schooled organizations can register but are subject to competition review for approval on a case by case basis.

How does my team prepare for the finals if we qulaify?

When the finalists are selected, a school representative (coach) is required to come to a free three day training session in Tallahassee, Florida. This coach training, held in October, focuses on how to prepare the students for all four events including the space flight simulation. Team members are not permitted to attend coach training and the coach is responsible for all costs to attend the training.    

How much does it cost?

  • The run-off competition registration fee is $50.00 per team.
  • The registration fee for the final competition, held at the Kennedy Space Center, is $700 per team. This covers participation in all four events, the three day park pass for six students and two coaches, event parking, the awards dinner and eight Astronaut Challenge team shirts. All teams are responsible for transportation, lodging and meals. 

Can a school have more than one team participate?

The run-off competition:

  • Schools can have as many teams as they wish participate in the run-off competition. The more teams that participate, the greater the chance a school has of being selected for the finals.
  • All teams participating in the run-off will be ranked by their score either in the Middle or High school category.  

The final competition:


  • The Student Astronaut Challenge follows a one team-one school policy for the final competition. Regardless of ranking, only one school can be represented in the finals. 
  • The qualifying position in the finals is the property of the school that sponsors the team. The makeup of the team members that will participate in the final is up to the school being represented.