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A team of students and faculty from the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges launched a 10.5-foot custom rocket they built in the ARLISS (A Rocket Launch for International Student Satellites) 2022 Come-Back competition in Nevada. This year’s ARLISS competition hosted 15 teams, including teams from Japan, Mexico and Costa Rica. The UH team was the lone U.S. representative.

people standing by rockets
Caleb Yuen, D’Elle Martin and Alyson Wirtz built and launched rockets seeking certifications.

“Here in the Black Rock desert, we are the only American team representing,” said Caleb Yuen from Honolulu CC. “I think it’s important for all the students of community colleges and universities to come out here to learn the fundamentals and the basic rules of rocketry.”

Project Imua is a faculty-student enterprise of multiple UH Community College campuses in affiliation with the Hawaiʻi Space Grant Consortium. Project Imua’s primary mission is to experiment with high-powered rocketry and to design and fabricate small payloads for space flight.

More Project Imua stories

The September launch, or Project Imua Mission 11, was a mixed success. The rocket flew and one of two parachutes deployed properly. The rocket contained a land rover designed and assembled by Windward CC that did not exit the rocket and maneuver autonomously as planned. An atmospheric detector designed and assembled by Honolulu CC collected data during the rocket flight that will be analyzed by the team.

people carrying rocket
The Project Imua team with their rocket in Black Rock, Nevada.

“That’s rocket science,” said Project Imua Manager Joe Ciotti, a Windward CC professor. “But like the recent Artemis setbacks, each failure is taken as an opportunity to learn and improve for the next flight.”

Seven members of the Project Imua Mission 11 team also launched individual rockets they built in a XPRS (eXtreme Performance Rocket Ships) event to earn various National Association of Rocketry certifications.

“Both Honolulu Community College and Windward Community College have a lot of funding and programs that students can get into. They don’t need to be in STEM-related careers,” said Honolulu CC team member D’Elle Martin. “It’s pretty fun and it exposes you to a lot of the possibilities and research projects you can get into.”

Stay tuned for more about Project Imua Mission 12 in 2023.

By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

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Nikki Arakawa, Caleb Yuen, Alyson Wirtz, D’Elle Martin
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