Princeton SpaceShot

Attempting to launch a student-built rocket into outer space.


The 2017-2018 SpaceShot project team of the Princeton Rocketry Club designed, built, tested, and will launch a 2-stage sounding rocket using advanced composite construction. The vehicle was safely launched to an altitude of 47,610 ft MSL (14 km) from Spaceport America on 05/27/2018, but failed to reach its mission objective of 100 km altitude due to a second-stage ignition failure.

The 2018-2019 SpaceShot project team will continue this daring attempt by building two projects:

The first is a advanced technology demonstrator (ATD) that reaches supersonic speeds, and allows new members to learn the design and manufacture of advanced, high performance aerospace vehicle systems. Students will develop novel sub-systems of the vehicle, like avionics and flight control.

The second, of course is our follow-up attempt to reach the Karman line (100 km altitude defining outer space) with a 2-stage student-built sounding rocket. With the lessons learned from the first launch, we expect success.

Records we seek to break

  • First student-built rocket to reach the Karman Line, the internationally recognized boundary of outer space (100 km altitude)

  • Smallest rocket by vehicle mass to ever reach outer space (Previous recordholder: Super Loki Robin Dart)

  • Rocket with least propellant mass to ever reach outer space (Previous recordholder: Super Loki Robin Dart)

  • Cheapest rocket to ever reach outer space (adjusted for inflation)

  • Fastest speed ever achieved at Spaceport America

  • Highest altitude ever achieved at Spaceport America

Efficiency and Advanced Materials

Despite being only four inches in diameter, and weighing only 50 lb, the rocket can soar to nearly 500,000 feet at over a mile a second, while its skin heats up to over 1500 F.

Similar performance sounding rockets from NASA cost over $2,000,000 per launch. We designed from scratch, built, and launched for under $20,000.

Our secret? A design philosophy of elegant simplicity, commercial off-the-shelf components, and advanced composites used by Lockheed Martin for re-entry shields.

Team Leads


Coleman Merchant '19

The chief engineer of SpaceShot, Coleman pushes the limits of efficiency with every project.

Coleman has worked at Tesla and SpaceX, gaining experience in advanced composites, machining, and mechanical engineering.

Coleman is also the chief engineer for the Princeton Racing Electric (PRE) team.


Saad Mirza '21

The project manager for SpaceShot, Saad has basically been a space enthusiast since birth.

Saad has worked at Georgia Tech’s Aerospace Systems Design Lab (ASDL) and managed the 2017-2018 SpaceShot project team, successfully gaining University approvals, conducting systems-level design, trajectory and aerodynamic analysis, and obtaining Federal authorization for space launch from the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).

Saad is also the President of the Princeton Rocketry Club, and is an officer of the Princeton Aviation Association.

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