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2021 National HAB Challenge


2021 Recap: 

139 CAP squadrons, with over 1,500 cadets from all eight regions, submitted over 650 science projects to be flown to the edge of space and back in CAP's first National AE High Altitude Balloon Challenge.

What started as an initiative to provide an innovative program to engage cadets during COVID restrictions quickly became a race to space for the squadrons wanting to submit their experiments and work toward the acquisition of the first CAP Kittinger Cup and $5,000 award prize provided by the Challenge Ambassador, retired USAF Col Joe Kittinger, famed high altitude balloon scientist.    

  • 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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The winning team was announced 6 October from Orlando, FL, where the winning cadets met and were awarded the first Kittinger Cup and $5,000 prize from Col Joe Kittinger.  

  • See all winning team info in right menu column (or click HERE). 

  • The 1:45 hour awards ceremony is found on the video, below, and includes important discussions about what the judges looked for when identifying winners of the Challenge categories. 

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- See article about the winning team made up of two MAWG squadrons, Bridgewater State University Composite Squadron and Goddard Cadet Squadron


- See article about the VAWG Burke Composite Squadron's $600 grant win for Innovative Science Experiments




 The Challenge required several projects to be submitted for judging for the ultimate Col Kittinger Cup and a $5,000 award grant that was announced 6 October:

  1. Selection of one or more science experiments to insert in the SHARE capsule sent by StratoStar.

  2. A description slide for each experiment included in the capsule to be flown to the edge of space.

  3. One short 2-3 minute video made by the cadets of (all) the science experiment(s) included in the SHARE capsule.

  4. A hand drawn and/or digital Mission Patch for the squadron.

  5. An after-action analysis report of each science experiment flown in August. 

  6. A culmination 4-5 minute video made by the cadets that describes the entire Challenge process: the included experiments, the results of the experiments after the HAB launch, how the Challenge was beneficial to the cadets, how learning about Col Kittinger was of value to the cadets, and what the squadron would do with a $5,000 grant, if it was won. 



The Participating CAP Teams worked with the company, StratoStar, and developed over 650 science experiment(s) during the summer of 2021which were launched in one of two national CAP HABs in the IN Wing on Saturday, 21 August.


See CAP.NEWS story about the 2021 National CAP High Altitude Balloon Challenge


  • About 100 adult and cadet CAP members attended the outdoor event in person.

    • Hosted by the GLR-IN-803 Anderson Preparatory Academy Cadet Squadron, the commander, Lt Michael Austin, made the day a special one for the school's cadets and visiting CAP members and guests. 

    • The INWG Vice Commander, Lt Col Jamie Griffith, was the Incident Commander for a full Search and Rescue Exercise that included 2 airplanes, a drone, a communications team, and a ground team.  This team integrated CAP technology used for SAREX missions to track, locate, and retrieve the balloon payloads. 

    • View the entire launch event HERE, moderated and led by SCWG Director of AE, Capt Bob Roberts on his AE YouTube Channel

  • Col Joe Kittinger connected online from Smith Preparatory Academy near Orlando, FL, to provide stories, commentary, and inspiration to continue pursuing science.  He encouraged the cadets to submit their final Challenge reports and documentary videos to compete for the Col Kittinger Cup and his $5,000 award grant to be awarded 6 October! 

"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, Commander and 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


The National CAP High Altitude Balloon Challenge Ambassador is Col Joe Kittinger. USAF (ret), famed high altitude balloon aeromedical scientist (and more).  See his info on the StratoStar CAP HAB Challenge page (and below)!


Col Kittinger has offered to present a "Col Kittinger Cup" and $5,000 award grant to the squadron that completes all aspects of the Challenge with the highest scores as determined by a panel of judges.   

Col Kittinger is a former fighter pilot and aeromedical high altitude researcher, amongst many other things. 

  • Col Kittinger is the first man to have traveled to space and the first to see the curvature of the earth from space!  See the video of his famed high altitude jump and the benefits to aerospace HERE. (2 min)

  • See the record-breaking Red Bull Stratos high altitude balloon jump with Col Kittinger as the consultant, guide, and commentator for Felix Baumgartner 's jump HERE. (8:22 min)

  • See Col Kittinger's interview for this National CAP HAB Challenge HERE. (57 min)


  • Col Joe Kittinger's autobiography, Come Up and Get Me!

  • Col Kittinger viewed the actual launch from Orlando, FL, and was an interesting commentator during that live event.  Orlando area CAP cadets and Sr members joined him for the event. 


Want to try a VR experience???  Check out the Discovery VR video (using StratoStar HAB launch), Journey to the Edge of Space 360!



CAP National High Altitude Balloon Challenge Team Members:


Capt Bob Roberts, SC Wing Director of Aerospace Education, AE YouTube Channel founder, and National CAP HAB Project Director


Jason Krueger, StratoStar founder and CAP HAB Project StratoStar Lead  


Susan Mallett, CAP National HQ, National CAP HAB Project Coordinator








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