UH Mānoa students win 2nd place in national rocket competition

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Marc Arakaki, (808) 228-3215
Content Producer, UH Communications
Posted: Jun 7, 2021

Team Hōkūlele rocket launch
Team Hōkūlele rocket launch

Link to video (details below): https://bit.ly/3pte1Yv

WHAT: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Team Hōkūlele took second place in the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) 1030 Competition. The team members from the College of Engineering successfully launched their 15-foot rocket and payload in the national competition in Mojave, Calif.

The students launched their rocket called Kuamoʻo (Milky Way) in the competition’s 30,000-foot category, a cruising altitude for some commercial airplanes. Seven other teams competed in the 30,000-foot division.

Kuamoʻo was the first two-stage/motor rocket for Team Hōkūlele, which was established in 2019. The rocket reached a height of approximately 30,000 feet and protected its components from liftoff to touchdown. The team also created a radio-controlled rover capable of traveling a distance of at least 10 feet after touchdown.

WHERE: FAR rocketry range near Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California

WHEN: June 5, 2021

WHY: Team Hōkūlele students have been working on Kuamoʻo for more than two years as they were unable to compete last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition allows the students to put their designs to the test and gain real-world experience in aerospace engineering.

Additional details: 

  • Team Hōkūlele is part of UH Aerospace Technologies, a Vertically Integrated Project (VIP). VIPs are uniquely designed to include faculty mentors, graduate student researchers and undergraduates from freshmen to seniors. The more experienced members mentor newer members, passing down their knowledge and expertise, and the process repeats itself annually. 

  • The team comprises two separate groups: VIP students and students from a Department of Mechanical Engineering senior design course.

  • They are mentored by UH Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory Specialist and Project Manager Trevor Sorensen, and Assistant Specialist and Deputy Director Miguel Nunes.

  • Team Hōkūlele received approximately $19,500 in funding and support from several organizations, including the College of Engineering, Engineers Council of the University of Hawaiʻi, RM Towill Corporation, Fiberglass Hawaii, Pacific Instruments, ʻIolani School, Coffman Engineers, Hawaiian Dredging and Universal Manufacturers. Pacific Air Cargo also offered to transport the rocket from Hawaiʻi to California and back.

  • Two members of the current team, traveled with the 2019 team to compete at the Spaceport America Cup competition in New Mexico. The students successfully launched their rocket named Kahekili with two experimental payloads.



0:00-1:18: Team Hōkūlele launch preps

1:19-1:25: Team Hōkūlele rocket launch

1:26-1:33: Photo of award