2021 Workshop Information


I led the first RockOn workshop in 2008 and every year since but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RockOn was cancelled in 2020.  As of December 15, 2020, all indications are that I will not be able to hold the workshop in person in June 2021 either.  

Even though RockOn was originally designed to be an in-person workshop, I am confident, with help of my team, that I can convert it into a meaningful and engaging virtual hands-on experience for all who wish to participate.  It will be a mix of live and recorded content, but the majority of the hands-on work will be self-paced.  My team of students and I will hold regular, live office hours to help teams work through issues and support each participant in achieving a completed and working experiment along with the confidence to work on future sounding rocket experiments with the RockSat-C and RockSat-X programs.  

I will make sure all activities that take place leading up to the rocket launch and after will be available for everyone to engage in via a live streaming link. 

There is limited room on the rocket so not all hardware can be flown into space.  Teams will be required to select which completed kit will be flown on the rocket in June.  Individuals participating without a team or cohort are still eligible to have their hardware flown but selection will be completed by a random drawing, which will be conducted live via Zoom.  All experiments that do fly on the rocket will be returned to the team or the participant after launch and that hardware is yours to keep.  Those experiments that do not fly on the rocket will remain the property of the team or individual. NOTE: there is a chance that those experiments that do not fly on the rocket will have a chance to fly to the edge of space on a NASA high altitude balloon as part of the 2021 HASP flight in September 2021.  More details coming soon. 

Each kit will include all the necessary equipment to complete the build remotely.  This equipment will be required to be returned to Colorado at the end of the “workshop.”   Shipping of this equipment as well as the kit materials to and from your location is included in your registration fee.  Launch is scheduled for June 25th, 2021.  It is expected that all kits and supporting equipment will be shipped to teams and individuals so that they arrive by April 1st, 2021.  Office hours will begin April 5th, 2021 and continue until May 21st, 2021.  All experiments selected for flight must be in Colorado by May 28th, 2021.

During the RockOn workshop, teams will learn through hands-on activities, how to build a sounding rocket payload or RocketSat. Teams of 3 will build their rocket payload from a kit at their own pace at their location and then ship it to Colorado.  After check out, it will ship to Virginia to launch on a sounding rocket to ~73 miles. The hardware in the kit could be used on future RocketSat and possibly CubeSat flights. Wallops will be providing the rocket and launch operations for the workshop. Wallops will also provide a tour and briefings on sounding rocket environments for future flights. We will also present their concept for standardized flight opportunities for future experiments called RockSat-C and RockSat-X.  This workshop is not about building rockets. It is about learning to build sounding rocket payloads. This workshop is organized by the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortium. RockOn is funded by you, the participant, and NASA Education. A significant amount of cost sharing from Wallops and the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant programs also make RockOn possible.

The RockOn 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 workshops were a huge success. Since the first workshop in 2008, 702 faculty and students from 43 states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico have attended and formed 198 teams. All payloads were completed in time allotted. All payloads were launched and recovered. 211 out of 226 payloads worked. The RockOn 2021 rocket will be a Terrier-Improved Orion. RockOn 2020 will also be the 8th year using a new microcontroller system based on the Arduino platform. If you have any questions please contact Chris Koehler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 303-492-4750.


This Page was last updated December 15, 2020.

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