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National CAP AE High-Altitude Balloon Challenge for Cadets

The 2024 CAP National AE High-Altitude Balloon Challenge (HABC) for cadets has open registration!  Click HERE to register YOUR squadron team!

The fourth annual national AE cadet STEM challenge, the 2024 Col Joe Kittinger CAP National High-Altitude Balloon Challenge for Cadets (HABC), officially opened team registration on 1 April and will close on midnight local time 12 May (late registrations will not be accepted).

  • Registration by the commander or AEO is OPEN NOW.  (Cadets may not register.)

  • Whomever registers should notify the rest of the leadership team (to include the DCC) and seek interest from cadets who wish to join the squadron team.  

  • The CAP National High-Altitude Balloon Challenge for Cadets is an internal program for cadet and/or composite squadrons. For those who submit their experiments for launch by the due date, below, the squadron name will be sent to Cadet Programs to be registered as having participated in the program for QCUA credit. 

Click on the HABC Program Guide to find out all details about:

- the program;

- squadron registration information;

- HABC schedule and due dates; and

- guidance for each of the HABC component deliverables (mission patch; pre and post launch videos; and final science experiment report slide) 


For further information or questions, contact 



More 2024 Information will be added to this page as is needed.




2023 Historical Information:

The program revealed the 2023 Kittinger Cup and $5,000 prize winner during the awards ceremony on Monday night, 23 October 2024. Capt Bob Roberts, the HABC Project Director, has a recording of the show on his  Aerospace Education YouTube channel.

  • See the 30-minute award ceremony video HERE

  • And... the winner of the 2023 Kittinger Cup is GLR-WI-183 Stevens Point Composite Squadron!  Congratulations!!!  See CAP.NEWS article about the winners and the entire program, found HERE


The winning team consisted of: 

  • Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Lily Schaefer

  • Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Barrett Dubos

  • Cadet Senior Airmen Alex Albright, Greyson Krepsky, and Micah Ritter

Team mentors were the squadron's  commander, 1st Lt. Ryan Vechinski; team facilitator, 2nd Lt. Jessica Schaefer; and aerospace education officer, Lt. Col. Peter Arnold.


A 2023 Recap:

  • The HABC teams shipped their experiment capsule boxes to the Anderson Preparatory Cadet Squadron in Anderson, Indiana, for the actual balloon launch on 5 August.

  • 115 cadet teams of about 950 total cadets worked for four months to create almost 1,000 science experiments which were launched on two weather balloons before reaching burst altitudes - both just over 100,000 feet. A third balloon launched a Lego shuttle model to retrieve video footage. 

  • Then, all capsule boxes were shipped back to the squadrons for the cadets to analyze the data for their experiments. The submissions of mission patches, pre and post launch videos, and science experiment report slides have been submitted and judged. 

  • This six-month HABC mission is culminated on Monday, 23 October, with the announcement of winners of each category, as well as the national winner of the Kittinger Cup and $5,000 prize donated by the Kittinger family.  (Additional award grant amounts are different this year due to a different funding level.) 


  • Balloon A had a burst altitude of 100,325 ft    

  • Balloon B had a burst altitude of 100,318 ft 

See each balloon's squadron team list HERE

  • All 22 July and 2 October deliverables (submitted via the Google doc links below) have been judged in preparation for the 23 October awards video show. 

The CAP National High-Altitude Balloon Challenge for Cadets is an internal program for cadet and/or composite squadrons.  

The 22 March 2023 CAP PROPS article about the Challenge is found HERE

Read Why Stratospheric Balloons Offer Out of This World Opportunities- written 20 March 2023 by Near Space Labs

Who launches CAP's HAB Challenge balloons with cadets and the SAR team from the IN Wing?  NearSpace Education 


  Photos of the packages in which the capsules are placed as payloads on the balloons are below.  All capsules are exposed to the outside environment. 


Want to know more about the HAB Challenge Legacy Ambassador and Benefactor, Col Joe Kittinger who passed away on 9 December 2022?    See his obituary HERE.  

  • Watch the 2-minute video of Kittinger's famed high-altitude jump and the sustained benefits of that jump to aerospace HERE.   
  • Read his book, Come Up and Get Me
  • Celebrate his 2022 CAP Brewer Award for Outstanding Supporting Individual to CAP. 
  • Work to earn the coveted 2023 Kittinger Cup!  


2023 HAB Challenge historical page is found HERE.

2022 HAB Challenge historical page is found HERE  

The winner of the 2022 Col Joe Kittinger Cup, which included a $5,000 donation from Col Kittinger and autographed "Come Up and Get Me" books by Col Kittinger, was the MAR-VA-007 William P. Knight Composite Squadron. See team photo and team member names, below. 


MAR Commander, Col Eugene L. Egry, III

VA Wing Commander, Col Elizabeth Sydow

MAR-VA-007 Squadron Commander, Lt Les Flores


Team Adult Leaders:

Capt Ajay Sawant, AEO, and Lt Navin Sitoula


Cadet Team Members:

C/Capt Katherine Chung-Ting Ku

C/Capt Sarah Sitoula

C/Capt Rachel Chung-Chi Ku

C/2Lt Megan Ajay Sawant

C/1Lt Alisha Sitoula

C/CMSgt Neel Ajay Sawant

C/CMSgt Thomas Ye

C/TSgt Daniel Berberian                                               

Inaugural 2021 HAB Challenge historical page (with all winners and other info) is found HERE. 

View short video of the August 2021 launch and balloon burst at altitudes of 87,621 ft  and 103,057 ft before landing the payloads back on Earth. The experiments were shipped back to the squadrons where they completed experiment analyses and submitted the required documents to be eligible for the Kittinger Cup.

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  • View the 2-min video of the 2021 National winning team encouraging other cadets to join the 2022 Challenge HERE.      

"I just want to thank you for putting this challenge together.  My team has had a great time working on this.  They’ve really learned a lot about the science behind our experiments and have formed a strong bond in the process.  I hope that we are able to do this, or a similar challenge, again."


Captain Leslie Kneipfer, AEO, NER-MA-005 Bridgewater State University Composite Squadron

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of history. 


1st Lt Susan Morrison, AEO, MAR-NC-022 Burlington Composite Squadron





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