Spaceport America, NM – April 18, 2018 – On Sunday, April 15 at 7:05 AM MDT, The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) Rocket Team launched the latest of its student rockets from the Spaceport America Vertical Launch Area. The rocket was developed jointly by NMT and White Sands Research and Developers (WSRDs), a Las Cruces certified Woman Owned Small Business specialized in aerospace R&D. The rocket, called the Mustang VI-B, is 10.9 feet long and 6.1 inches in diameter and used a commercial solid rocket motor to soar to 24,127 ft. The maximum speed during the launch, 1372 feet per second or Mach 1.27, was well into the supersonic range. The rocket is reusable and can be processed and reflown rapidly.

After reaching its apogee of 24,127 ft mean sea level the rocket deployed its recovery system, and landed very close to the predicted impact point. It was recovered intact. Promptly after recovery, the students downloaded the recorded performance data for verification of performance and comparison with pre-launch predictions, where it was discovered that the maximum speed differed from WSRDs’ AeroACES software prediction by just 4 feet per second.

Students working on the project consisted primarily of junior and senior students from NMT’s Design Clinic courses. NMT’s students have been building and flying rockets as part of the Design Clinic since 2012 and have partnered with WSRDs since 2014. These students developed most of the on-board systems including the separation, recovery, and data acquisition systems. WSRDs developed the aerodynamic components including the aero-shell, nosecone, and fins.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Dr. Michael Hargather, the New Mexico Tech faculty advisor, said, “It is gratifying to see the hard work of the students pay-off with such a spectacular success. We look forward to future launches. We greatly appreciate the support from Spaceport America and White Sands Research and Developers.”

Dan Hicks, CEO of Spaceport America, said, “I congratulate the Tech students and Dr. Hargather on their success. The partnership with Spaceport America has resulted in four launches with each being more ambitious than the previous. These students will be fine additions to America’s aerospace workforce.” Mechanical engineering student and rocket team co-lead Aaron Misla said, “It’s the culmination of everyone’s hard work and dedication to a common goal. To succeed with flying colors like this is the best possible scenario we could have asked for.” At the end of hot wash, Dr. Christina Lohn, President of WSRDs, thanked the NMT students, Dr. Hargather, and NMSA for their support and handed out a mission patch commemorating the Mustang 6B launch.

Mustang 6B Rocket Launch, April 15, 2018, Spaceport America New Mexico

(Photo: J. Perry, Launch Crew, White Sands Research and Developers, LLC)

About Spaceport America

Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The FAA-licensed launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has a rocket friendly environment of 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, low population density, a 12,000-foot spaceway, and 340 days of sunshine and low humidity. Some of the most respected companies in the commercial space industry are customers at Spaceport America: Virgin Galactic, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, UP Aerospace, EnergeticX Pipeline2Space and EXOS Aerospace. Visit for more information.


Media Contact for Spaceport America                                                       

Rosa Banuelos
Spaceport America

Media Contact for New Mexico Tech                                                          
David Lepre, Jr.
New Mexico Tech