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2022 National HAB Challenge



The 2022 CAP National AE High-Altitude Balloon Challenge for Cadets is complete!!!

The national award winners for the program were announced on the Aerospace Education YouTube Channel of HABC Director, Capt Bob Roberts, SCWG Director of AE. 

  • The direct awards video link is found HERE.  

  • The 1 Nov 2022 CAP.NEWS article about the HABC winners is HERE

  • To see the individual award winners in a slide presentation, click the photo, below. (All award winners are listed in the right column, as well. )


Each team was asked to submit four categories of end product deliverables: mission patch (hand-drawn and/or digitally-drawn, with only one eligible for winning); pre-launch video; science experiment slide; and final documentary video.

The teams were provided exact expectations and guidance via the individual category scoring rubrics (located in the shaded box below).  Thus, when their submissions were scored, there was strict adherence to the rubrics.

The final selections were determined by the highest rubric scores and the finalists' popular vote amongst judges. 

The winner of the 2022 Col Joe Kittinger Cup, which includes a $5,000 donation from Col Kittinger and  autographed "Come Up and Get Me" books by Col Kittinger, is 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/Lt Rachel Chung-Chi Ku

C/CMSgt Megan Ajay Sawant

C/CMSgt Neel Ajay Sawant

C/CMSgt Alisha Sitoula

C/TSgt Thomas Ye

C/SRA Daniel Berberian

Want to know more about the HABC ambassador and benefactor, Col Joe Kittinger?

Watch the 2 minute video of Kittinger's famed high-altitude jump and the 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.  


2022 Program Recap:

By 26 September, all teams submitted via Google forms their final scientific findings slide(s) (Google submission form) and final video documentary of the program (Google submission form) to compete for the Col Joe Kittinger Cup and Kittinger's donated $5,000 prize.  

Out of the teams which originally registered, 122 cadet teams representing all 8 regions of over 1,5000 cadets created over 500 science experiments to fit inside 50 ml test tubes (capsules), which were shipped to Anderson, IN, at the Anderson Preparatory Academy Cadet Squadron home where the 13 August balloon launch was conducted.

--- The INWG worked with the KYWG and conducted a search-and-rescue exercise to track and retrieve the payloads of the balloons which include all teams' experiment capsules.

--- INWG plane and sUAS reconnaissance operations were conducted.  

--- Both Sr Members and cadets worked on the ground teams. 

The launch event was live-streamed (and recorded) on Capt Robert Roberts's AE YouTube Channel

The 122 teams which submitted their experiment capsules viewed the event via watch parties, individually, or as the recorded program.  They tracked the balloon on which their experiments were launched to see how high the balloon traveled for their after-flight research analysis: 

  • Balloon #1 Teams (98,663 ft burst altitude-with lat/lon/alt/time/vertical speed shown below)


  • Balloon #2 Teams (99,962 ft burst altitude- with lat/lon/alt/time/vertical speed shown below)


  • Balloon #3 (105,661 burst altitude) had teams' mission patches or dollar bills as mementos which traveled to the edge of space and were returned to the cadet teams with their post-flight capsules. 

TRACKING INFO of the balloons' flight, altitude, temperature, photonic light, and visible UV and IR light spectrums for experiment analysis follows. 

Using data from our contracted launch company, Near Space Education (NSE), the NSE sensor board data tracked - in 1 second intervals - the temperature (in Celsius), photonic light, and the breakdown of the visible UV and IR light spectrums.  This special board only captured data on the 3rd balloon.  Teams can, however, infer the data back to their specific balloon since all balloons travelled roughly the same distance, location, and altitude for the time they were in flight, as seen below. (Will have all balloons' info for 2023.)

All three balloons' flight paths are denoted in graphics, with specific balloon 1 and 2 graphics displayed for team's info:

     Balloon 1:   Balloon 2: 


Challenge Ambassador, retired USAF Col Joe Kittinger, famed high altitude balloon scientist  returned for the 2nd year and again provided the $5,000 prize and Kittinger Cup for the top squadron in all aspects of the Challenge with the highest composite scores as determined by a panel of judges.   (See Col Kittinger's complete info, below.)

  • Col Kittinger viewed the 13 August launch virtually from Orlando, FL where he was joined by a group of local FLWG cadets. He was able to make commentary throughout the event. 


 The Challenge required several projects to be submitted for judging for the ultimate Col Kittinger Cup and a $5,000 award grant.


1- Prior to the high-altitude weather balloon flights in Indiana in August, each squadron team was directed to create, pack, and ship back one or more science experiments inserted in the 50ml Challenge capsule; not weighing more than 40g in the shipping boxes and labels provided to each team. (Ship date was 22 July to have the teams' experiments sent to IN for the launch.)


2- By 22 July, the teams were also directed to submit a 2-3 minute pre-launch video made by the cadets to describe all science experiments included in the capsule via the teams' Google doc. The music guidance was provided in the overall HAB guidance video, as well as the expectations and scoring rubric, below.  

  • Pre-launch video expectations and scoring rubric  

  • $200 grant for winning pre-launch video

3- Each squadron was directed to submit either a hand drawn or digital mission patch to the Google form link by 22 July.  (Either the old or new CAP logo could be used in the mission patch this year.)

  • Mission patch expectations and scoring rubric
  • $200 grant each for winning hand-drawn mission patch and winning digital mission patch

4- After the capsules' flight and return to the squadrons for analysis, an after-action slide report of each science experiment was to be submitted via the Science Slide Google submission form by 26 September. 

  • Final science experiment slide for each experiment expectations and scoring rubric
  • Can be on a PowerPoint or pdf slide for each experiment data submitted
  • Following the scoring rubric will ensure all criteria for the science slide(s) are covered
  • $600 grant for most innovative science experiment and slide
  • $300 grant for most creative science experiment slide 

5- By 26 September, a culmination "documentary-style" 4-5 minute video made by the cadets was to be submitted (via post-launch video Google submission form) that described the entire Challenge process: the included experiments and associated results after the HAB launch; any collaborative efforts made with other groups/organizations/etc. (universities/schools, medical or science orgs, or other CAP units); 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. (Music guidance for YouTube video found in expectations, guidance, and scoring rubric, below.)

  • Post-launch documentary video expectations, guidance, and scoring rubric
  • Following the scoring rubric will ensure all criteria of the documentary are covered
  • $500 grant for winning video

Additional grants for outstanding work were selected by the judges. 


2022 HAB Challenge Schedule of Events:




Test tubes/vials/capsules:

  • Standard 50ml centrifuge tubes

Approximate dimensions are 30mm (outer diameter); 115mm length 

  • Have a cap, but are not pressurized

  • Will be in a container that is open to the atmosphere and sunlight when launching

  • Will be packed next to other tubes, so if there is an experiment that needs sun and radiation exposure, the experiment would need to be pushed toward the top of the tube

  • Each team will have a control test tube and a flight test tube- labeled as such when received


  • Any science experiment desired can be used as long as there is nothing flammable, live, or otherwise dangerous (as listed below) for launching in a test tube.

      - Must fit within provided 50ml capsule

      - No liquids

      - No food which requires refrigeration

      - No live vertebrates or invertebrates

      - No radioactive materials

      - No explosive materials

  • Find science experiment ideas by searching High Altitude Balloon Experiment Ideas.  One site is HERE

  • More than one experiment can fit in a tube as long as the 40g (total) weight limit is not exceeded (if exceeds weight limit, it cannot fly).(Weight includes capsule.)

  • Recommend putting individual experiments in their own small baggies before putting into the tube so it's easy to keep them organized.

  • Remember that both the control and flight test tubes should have the exact experiments and packing order for your challenge to be valid. 

2022 Challenge guidance is found on the liftoff event recording, HERE

Details of the 2022 HAB Challenge are found HERE.  


2022 Registered Teams- 172 teams representing all regions registered                                                           


CAP Volunteer magazine Spring 2022 issue HAB Challenge story HERE (to print) or, magazine spread pages HERE


CAP.NEWS article about the 2022 program lift-off HERE.


CAP YouTube video recap of 2021 balloon launch in Indiana HERE


The National High-Altitude Balloon Challenge Ambassador: 

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 the edge of 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! is available for purchase.        


2021 HAB Challenge Recap

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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2021 HAB Challenge Winners:

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

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

"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


See 2021 Information for any historical info HERE. 



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