The Argonia Cup Challenge

Competition Summary




Competition Summary

The goal for the 2023 Argonia Cup competition is to launch a two-stage rocket powered vehicle containing one golf ball payload in the sustainer to a sustainer altitude in excess of 9,000’ AGL and to recover the payload safely to a predetermined location on the rocket range.


  1. There must be at least one (1) TRA certified Level 2 member per team. This team member must be present at the competition and will be considered the flyer of record of the rocket.  All team members must currently be enrolled at the competing university or college.  Multiple teams from the same university or college are permitted.
  2. The maximum installed impulse for this competition will be 5,120 Newton Seconds. All motors must be certified. Spark emitting motors (Skidmark type motors) are prohibited.
  3. Any deployable payload shall limit the descent velocity to less than 30 FPS below 300’ AGL.
  4. Any propulsion/steering system designed to recover the payload cannot be used to boost the payload to the target apogee.
  5. A commercially available, altitude recording altimeter with onboard data storage shall be used for altitude determination and may be used for payload deployment and/or rocket recovery. If two or more altimeters are used, the averaged apogee height of each altimeter will be used for determination of rocket apogee.
  6. Ignition of the sustainer motor will utilize commercially manufactured electronics capable of inhibiting sustainer ignition if the flight is not vertical. See sustainer Motor Inhibit Logic section below for details.
  7. Launch vehicles shall be launched at an elevation angle between 83 and 85 degrees (5 to 7 degrees off vertical). All flights will be angled away from the flight line regardless of wind direction.
  8. All flights must have a minimum of a 5:1 thrust to weight ratio at liftoff.
  9. Launch configuration flight stability shall be achieved by maintaining a minimum CP/CG static margin of no less than 1 body caliber during flight.
  10. Apogee must occur at or above 9000’ AGL (field elevation is approximately 1249’ MSL). Any flight not reaching this altitude will be disqualified.  Each team may make up to three flight attempts with the closest qualified landing score being their official flight.
  11. All launch vehicle components must be recovered in a “re-flyable condition” after flight.

Launch Operations

  1. TRA Unified Safety Code will be followed for all launch activities.
  2. The launch organizers will provide all launch pads, launch rails, and the launch control system. All rockets must utilize 1.5” x 1.5” (commonly known as 1515) rails. The rails provided will be 12’ in length. A minimum of two (2) rail guides must be used.
  3. All rockets will be subjected to a rocket safety inspection before the teams will be cleared to fly their projects. Any safety of flight issues noted in this inspection will be resolved before flight. These safety inspectors have the final say regarding any project’s suitability for flight


Sustainer motor ignition will be inhibited in the event the flight is not vertical. This can be done
in one of two ways.
1. Use flight computers capable of inhibiting sustainer motor ignition based on tilt angle.

  • Examples include the Altus Metrum Telemega and EasyMega.  Other devices also exist which can sense tilt angle and use this information as a check prior to igniting the upper stage.
  • The following logicals should all be true before firing the upper stage:
  • Tilt angle less than 22 degrees.
  • Velocity greater than 400 ft/sec
  • Time since liftoff less than (intended staging time + 4 sec)
  • Altitude greater than (65% of the intended staging altitude)


2. Time/altitude lockout

  • Devices without tilt measurements are allowed, but should follow the following guidelines:
  • Velocity greater than 500 ft/sec
  • Time since liftoff less than (intended staging time + 3 sec)
  • Altitude greater than (75% of the intended staging altitude)


The sustainer recovery system should be sized to allow a safe descent of the sustainer in the event that it does not ignite.  Keep in mind that unburned propellant will make the rocket heavier.  A descent rate of no more than 35 ft/sec will be allowed under the main parachute with an unburned rocket motor.

 Teams will be required to submit sustainer ignition logic information for approval 30 days before the competition.


Each team will be required to produce a video four to eight minutes long, hosted on YouTube, that provides a detailed overview of the project including flight simulations. This video must be submitted on or before March 10, 2023. Not submitting a video will result in disqualification.


Prior to the start of any launch activities, the location of the landing target will be clearly marked and will be available for inspection by the competing teams.  The landing target will be established by the launch organizers and will be within line-of-site and not more than 300’ from any launch pad location.  At the completion of each flight, the distance from the center of the payload to the center of the target will be measured by the launch organizers before the teams are allowed to remove their payloads.  The point of initial touchdown will be used if it can be determined in the event of the payload skipping across the surface.  The winner will be the team with the highest contest altitude

The final score will be determined using the following formula:

Contest Altitude = Sustainer altitude (in feet) – (the payload landing distance from the target (in feet) times 20).

Competition F.A.Q.s

What safety rules will be in effect during the Argonia Cup?

The Argonia Cup is conducted under the Tripoli Rocketry Association Unified Safety Code. Each teams certified flyer must be at least a Level 2 TRA member.

Will teams be allowed to fly using a non-team members (mentor) certification basis?

All teams must have at least one (1) student that is a Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA) member and is certified Level 2 by TRA. The certified flyer must bring a state issued ID and their TRA membership card to the launch.

Will non-certified team members be allowed to access the launch pads?

All team members who wish to access the high power pads must be a member of TRA.

Are aluminum rockets legal for the competition?

Rockets launched at the Argonia Cup may not be constructed of all aluminum or any other metals. Aluminum fin cans or nose cones will be permitted only if required to ensure structural integrity of the rocket during a high-performance launch. Absolutely no aluminum airframes or fins attached directly to motor cases will be permitted under any circumstances. Any metal structural components (i.e. nosecones, nosecone tips, fins, or fin cans) must be painted. NO EXCEPTIONS! Screws, rivets, nuts, washers, and other non-structural small components are exempt from this restriction.

Is the 30 FPS descent velocity just in the vertical plane?

Yes, if your recovery device flies forward at a speed above 30 FPS this is allowed. We only restrict vertical speed. A vertical dive onto the target at a speed greater than 30 FPS would be disqualifying.

Can I fly my drone at the competition to video my team?

You can fly your drone at the Argonia Cup as long as you follow the following rules:

1. You must keep your drone below 400’AGL at all times.
2. You cannot fly over the crowd or on the crowd side of the safety fence.
3. You must launch and recover your drone from the active range side of our safety fence and if your drone is equipped with a “return to home” capability the home waypoint must be on the active side of the safety fence.
4. Do not fly in close proximity to any team as they are preparing their rocket for flight. Drones can be a distraction and the noise they make may distract the teams at a very crucial time.


Sign up now and start competing!


Each team will be required to produce a video four to eight minutes long, hosted on YouTube, introducing each member of the team and providing a detailed overview of the project. This video must be submitted to the launch organizers a minimum of thirty (30) days before the launch. Not submitting a video will result in disqualification.

Now that you have joined the competition, please submit video here once you have completed your video!