We Build Rockets

We are River City Rocketry.  Founded in 2011, we are a passionate group of students from the University of Louisville. Every year, we design, build, and test a high-powered rocket to compete in an annual collegiate level rocket launch competition. 

The team spent its first 7 seasons at the NASA Student Launch competition.  During this time, we won 14 awards, placing in the overall top 5 every year. During the 2016–2017 season, the rocket "Typhon Heavy" won the team its first ever first place overall trophy.

In 2018, we targeted new sights and joined the Spaceport America Cup. In its first year, the team achieved international acclaim placing 8th overall of 122 teams. The 2018-2019 rocket "Justify" earned RCR its first James Barrowman Award for Flight Dynamics by soaring to 10,081 feet—99.9% of our estimated apogee. The autonomous stowable UAV payload also placed first in the SDL Payload Challenge. We continue to set our sights higher than before as we develop our first student-researched propulsion systems for the 2019-2020 season.

River City Rocketry

Spaceport America Cup Awards

NASA Student Launch Awards

2017 - 2018

3rd Place Overall

 1st Place Safety Award

2nd Place Vehicle Design Award

3rd Place Project Review Award

2015 - 2016

2nd Place Overall

 Safety Award

Website Award

2016 - 2017

Overall Winners

 Vehicle Design Award

River City Rocketry

2014 - 2015

2nd Place Overall

 Project Review Award

Vehicle Design Award

Safety Award

"Nil sine magno labore." Nothing without great effort. The team would not be what it is today without the hard work of its members. The story of our hard work is captured in a number of videos, meticulously documented by the team's 2016-2017 season recovery lead, Evan Schurr.

We Build Rockets

Designed and constructed over the course of the 2016-2017 NASA Student Launch season, "Typhon Heavy" was River City Rocketry's most sophisticated and powerful launch vehicle at the time. The rocket, weighing 51lbs and standing 12 feet tall, produced 700lbs of thrust and experienced 15 g’s during liftoff, accelerating the rocket to 560mph in 2.3 seconds. Constructed entirely from scratch, the rocket carried a dynamic apogee-targeting air-braking system and an autonomous multi-rotor payload designed for target detection and upright landing. The final configuration of the rocket featured in the video was flown for its fifth and final time at NASA competition launch on April 8th, 2017. The rocket reached an apogee of 5,303 feet, a mere 23 feet from the team’s target altitude of 1 mile, making it the most accurate flight in the team’s 6-year history. 

Team's First SA Cup

The Experimental Sounding Rocket Association presents the 2018-2019 Spaceport America Cup. Our rocket, Justify, is featured in a few glimpses of launch footage.

Footage sourced from the official ESRA YouTube Channel.

Zenith Qualification

Despite a tumultuous season, River City Rocketry has persevered and is going to Huntsville to launch one last time.

Return to Flight

On March 19th, 2017, during what was shaping up to be the team’s most successful season yet, the qualifying test flight of the team's competition rocket ended in disaster. During liftoff, the rocket suffered a catastrophic motor failure that destroyed a significant majority of the vehicle. With only one week left to attempt a re-flight and qualify for competition, the team scrambled to rebuild 8 months of work.


In an unprecedented time crunch, the team worked around the clock, building a new booster and payload and salvaging the rest of the rocket within five days. The newly repaired rocket was flown for a fourth time on March 24th, 2017. The rocket was successfully launched and recovered, and qualified the team for competition flight. The rocket would later land the team its first national victory during its fifth and final flight at NASA competition launch on April 8th, 2017.

Typhon Heavy Teaser

Deep in a garage at JB Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville, a beast is stirring...

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Our Story

2018 - 2019

8th Place Overall

James Barrowman Award for Flight Dynamics

1st Place SDL Payload Challenge