International CanSat Competition brings more than 400 Rocket Enthusiasts to Highland County

A host of high powered rockets took to the skies over Jack Mountain Village on June 8 as college aged students from 18 different countries competed in the international CanSat Competition. CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, integrated within the volume and shape of a soft drink can. Thirty teams made it into the final competition after the first three phases of the process were complete. 


Phase four was the actual launch at Jack Mountain Village just outside of Monterey. The location is usually at Virginia Tech, but was moved this year due to a scheduling conflict. 


“My name is Marta Szotakova and I’m the events manager for the American Astronautical Society. We’ll do the judging tonight, and then tomorrow is post flight review. And then they’re going to present what they learned.”


Teams were scheduled to present their completed CanSat for Flight Readiness Review the Friday prior to launch then given a scheduled time on Saturday for launch. During this phase, CanSats had to pass the drop test, fit check, and battery verification in order to fly. 


Final preparations were allowed on launch day, but teams had to turn in their CanSats by noon for the 1 p.m. scheduled launch. And, as you’ll hear from this clip, the teams were supportive of each other and everyone learned together, no matter what flag they were flying under. 


Chuck Neff of Valley Aerospace Team or VAST helped to organize the event after the last minute change in location. He utilized many local businesses to make it possible, including Claire’s Cafe who’s staff made more than 400 boxed lunches to feed the participants and staff at the event. The volunteer fire departments also helped with spray downs to prevent any fires. He said he would love to continue to have the event here but admitted that housing for the weekend was a lot easier at Virginia Tech where the students and staff could utilize the dorms. They solved this issue by contracting with a variety of hotels in the Staunton area and utilizing bus companies to bring everyone in. 


VAST meets monthly at the Jack Mountain Village location and welcomes rocket enthusiasts of all ages and levels. For more information visit The July launch is scheduled for Saturday the 13.

Story By


Brit Chambers

Brit Chambers is a resident of Highland County, Virginia and a news reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio. She loves living in a small town and relishes the outdoor adventures and community feeling that Highland has to offer. Brit has a background in journalism, marketing, and public relations and spends her free time reading good books, baking sourdough bread, and hiking with her family.

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