The SpaceShot rocket launched from the Spaceport America Vertical Launch Area on May 27, 2018

Spaceport America, NM – May 29, 2018 – On Sunday, May 27 students with the SpaceShot project team of the Princeton Rocketry Club launched a two-stage, solid fuel rocket from Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport. The launch marks the 102nd flight from Spaceport America’s vertical launch complex.

The launch took place at approximately 9:39 a.m. (MDT), which was within the dedicated launch window, and flight data indicates the rocket attained a maximum altitude of approximately 47,610 ft, falling short of the original mission objective of reaching suborbital space at the Karman Line (100 kilometers) due to a second stage ignition failure. The parachute recovery system successfully deployed, leading to a safe recovery.

SpaceShot team members, who are Princeton University students, and Spaceport America staff cheered as the rocket soared off the launch pad at the Vertical Launch Area. Viewers around the world were also joining in via Facebook Live on the Spaceport America channel with over four thousand views.

Saad Mirza, Princeton student and Project Manager said: “Even though we fell short of the Karman Line we had an incredible opportunity to work as a team, learning hands-on over the course of the year, and launch at Spaceport America.”

SpaceShot project team of the Princeton Rocketry Club as they recovered the rocket at the Spaceport America Vertical Launch Area

Luigi Martinelli, associate professor of Mechanical and Aerospace engineering at Princeton said: “The students’ rocket is, to my knowledge, the smallest rocket that has ever been built that is capable of reaching outer space. We are very proud of the students for this fantastic achievement. Building and flying a real rocket provides experience that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.”

Coleman Merchant, chief engineer and designer said: “We are pleased that this is the Princeton’s Rocketry Club’s highest performing flight thus far, and we look forward to building off of the lessons we learned from both the construction and launch phases of this project.”

Spaceport America CEO Dan Hicks said: “We are very pleased that Princeton SpaceShot selected Spaceport America to conduct their attempt to reach the Karman line. These students have a very bright future in the rapidly expanding space industry. I’m sure some of them will help take us to Mars and beyond.”


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.


About the Princeton Rocketry Club

The Princeton Rocketry Club is a hands-on space enthusiast club that designs, builds, and flies a large variety of aerospace projects. The club is a student organization registered with Princeton University’s Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.


Media Contact for Spaceport America  

Rosa Banuelos
Spaceport America

Media Contact for Princeton SpaceShot                                                   

Saad Mirza
Project Manager, Princeton SpaceShot

Coleman Merchant
Chief Engineer and Designer, Princeton SpaceShot