KHS StellarXplorers team advances to national finals

by Ken Robinson
Kaiserslautern High School
StellarXplorers team director

Photo by Guy HrushkaKaiserslautern High School StellarXplorers, from left to right: Nathan Throckmorton, senior; Vincent Povilaitis, junior; Sandra Mako-Sanchez, junior; Rhiannon Jimenez, senior; and Karina Sahli, freshman.

Photo by Guy Hrushka
Kaiserslautern High School StellarXplorers, from left to right: Nathan Throckmorton, senior; Vincent Povilaitis, junior; Sandra Mako-Sanchez, junior; Rhiannon Jimenez, senior; and Karina Sahli, freshman.

The Kaiserslautern High School StellarXplorers team, the Space Raiders, has won an all-expenses-paid trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to compete in the very first StellarXplorers national competition finals. Students will compete against nine other schools for the coveted title.

StellarXplorers is one of two national competitions put on by the Air Force Association. Building on AFA’s stunning success of their CyberPatriot National Cyber Education Program, AFA has decided to take their science, technology, engineering and math initiative one step further with the introduction of this newly released national space competition.

The StellarXplorers program and competition was designed to inspire and motivate high school students and their educators to pursue studies and careers in STEM through a challenging, space-system-design competition. Since space science inherently includes virtually every technical discipline, students learn firsthand the fundamental aspects of space system engineering, assembly, integration, test and operations.


Teams are provided with computer simulations for orbit determination and propagation, computer-aided system design, system performance assessment, and budgetary constraints. With nearly 20 pages of technical data, teams must be able to efficiently organize, analyze and evaluate mission data in order to make critical decisions concerning their mission. Teams will have a six-hour block of time to make all the final decisions. For these teams, this is the ultimate test, where higher order thinking skills are competing against both time and space.

The Space Raiders hope to visit both the Air Force Academy and Schriever Air Force Base during this unique opportunity in Colorado Springs. Additionally, the team will attend the Space Foundation’s 32nd Space Symposium. For more information about StellarXplorers, visit their homepage at www.stellarxplorers.org.