Rocketry Club

Building Engineers One Rocket At A Time

Student at Vanguard School building a rocket

Students at The Vanguard School design, build and fly low-power model rockets (as defined by the National Association of Rocketry, NAR) as part of the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) and Sport Model Rocketry club.  TARC is a yearly competition where teams attempt to fly rockets with specific design and performance parameters (e.g., to specific altitudes with a particular payload).  The rockets are constructed from light-weight materials such as cardboard, wood and plastic and recover under a parachute.  Sport rocketry involves non-competitive model rocket building and flying. Students who have never built a model rocket are encouraged to begin in sport rocketry. If they desire, students may move to the TARC competition teams as they gain additional experience or continue in sport rocketry simply to enjoy hobby.  General build supplies, electronics, and motors are provided for the TARC teams through their dues and associated fundraising.  New students in model rocketry will be given supplies to build and fly two simple rockets.  After that, students will purchase their own model rocket kits (typically or more depending on complexity) and motors (typically ) from local hobby shops or via mail order.

Learn More By Clicking on the Links Below!

Team America Rocketry Challenge NASA Student Launch Initiative

highschool students taping rocket at Vanguard School Colorado Springs

 kid building rocket at Vanguard School

Grade Levels Eligible

Students in grades 7-12 are eligible to participate in the club.

students wiring a rocket at Vanguard School


The club has two levels of membership.

  • TARC

    Intended for experienced rocketeers who will be building and flying advanced model rocket designs using higher-power motors and on-board electronics to control the flight.  
  • Sport Model Rocketry

    Aimed at beginning rocketeers or for students who wish to build and fly model rocket kits without being part of the competition teams.  

    launching rockets at Vanguard School


The Vanguard School has several students who are budding rocket scientists. The two primary programs are "TARC" (Team America Rocketry Challenge) and NASA's "SLI" (Student Launch Initiative).


CMCA/Vanguard School Rocketry TeamIn 2012, we had three teams and 17 students participating in TARC, the most ever. Two of the teams reprogrammed an existing open-source flight computer to eliminate variables in motor thrust typically found in “hobby motors” we use in TARC. If we can get this strategy to work, it should give us a leg up on the competition. The third team decided to go with the KISS principal, and focus on finding the most consistent motor. Our work and flights are fully documented here.

CMCA/Vanguard School Rocketry Team


The 2011, The Vanguard School TARC team was all-new, with all-Vanguard School members and had an exciting qualification flight using a rocket that was duct taped together (FreshInk article here). The motors they were stuck with at finals had very poor consistency, but the fully documented story is here, along with a video of the Finals flight (flight 36) at the bottom of the page.


In 2010, we had two students from The Vanguard School, but the primary students were from other schools. The team did well with altitude, but our best qualification attempt hit a massive thermal and the recovery time was very long. It is shocking to watch a streamer-recovery egg bay stop in mid-air: scroll to the bottom of this page and watch flight 37. We did not qualify for Finals.


CMCA/Vanguard School Rocketry TeamThe 2009, our TARC team qualified to go to Finals (FreshInk story here). The only other team in Colorado to qualify was from Mitchell High School. The fully documented season is here. We struggled with the amount of ballast and the effects of wind at Finals. We reduced the weight to account for weathercocking into the wind, but the rocket flew straight up, so it was very high. 

In January 2009, Vanguard's success was reported on as a feature story by Colorado Springs television station KOAA (News 5), with reporter Andy Koen documenting the team's achievements and the student's future goals, which included a trip to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama in April 2009 to demonstrate their rocket design. Check out the KOAA 5 newscast.


We placed FIFTH in the 2008 TARC National Finals. Click here to read an article documenting their amazing story. Their achievement was recognized by the Colorado Springs Rocket here to read all about it!

Team "SG-1" also has their own Web here to visit Vanguard's 2008-2009 Student Launch Initiative Team page.