John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Near-Space Balloon Challenge, NASA launch opportunity begins

Registration is now open for the ninth annual state-wide Near-Space Balloon Challenge!


About the launch project

Once called the Near-Space Balloon Competition, we have transitioned it into a challenge, in order to increase the program’s collaborative and student-led learning goals! We will host a total of ten teams in a hands-on STEM program, which launches student-led experiments to the edge of space on a high altitude balloon. And once again, this program comes at no cost to your school.


For nearly a decade, the NSBC has been an annual state-wide student launch program, providing an opportunity for middle and high school student teams to participate in a NASA-sponsored, fully funded, balloon-based space mission. The NSBC is an education outreach project designed to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education; student teams will design and build an experiment that will fly on a high altitude balloon, launched by UND Space Studies graduate students. This balloon will travel above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere (approximately 19 miles into the stratosphere) before popping. The payloads return to Earth with a parachute, which are retrieved and brought back to your students. Students then analyze the results of their experiment and write a final report that discusses their findings.


Resources for educators


Application information

If you and your students are interested in participating, please fill out our notice of intent by 10-4-19, found here:

The notice of intent is due October 4, 2019. Spots on the balloon are limited to ten, and team acceptances will be announced on October 11, 2019. The final launch day is set for November 16, 2019 (weather dependent). We are planning on launching from Grand Forks, ND. We hope you will consider participating, and please reach out with any questions!

During the program, we will communicate with all teams with: If you have any questions in the meantime, please reach out to that email or



NSBC Coordination Team

Steven Russell, graduate student lead