Project Imua

Project Imua (to move forward in Hawaiian) is a joint faculty-student enterprise of campuses within the University of Hawaii Community College system that’s dedicated to designing, fabricating and testing of high-power rockets and small payloads for launch into space. Since its establishment in 2014 through a Hawaii Space Grant Consortium award, Project Imua has managed various missions, including participation in RockSat-X, ARLISS, NASA Student Launch Project (SLP) and Spaceport America Cup ESRA competitions.

Dr. Joseph Ciotti serves as the Project Manager and WinCC mentor. Dr. Jake Hudson serves as the WCC rocketry mentor.


First in Space for UHCC

The first three missions of Project Imua were devoted to developing small payloads for sub-orbital flight. Project Imua Missions 1, 2 and 3 (RockSat-X 2015, 2016 and 2017) involved the design, construction, testing and launch of three separate payloads into outer space using RockSat-X’s sounding rocket launch system at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. These missions were conducted in collaborated by four UHCC campuses--included WindwardCC, KauaiCC, HononoluCC and KapiolaniCC. These missions involved the first student-developed payloads ever designed and flown in outer space by community college students from Hawaii.

Hawaii Governor David Ige presented commemorative plaques to Project Imua teams during a ceremony at the State Capitol on October 23, 2015 for Project Imua Mission 1’s exemplary work in designing, constructing and launching the first payload ever sent into outer space by a UH campus.


Each Project Imua campus participating in this historic space flight mission was awarded a special commemorative plaque.


Overview of Project Imua Missions

  • Project Imua Mission 1 (RockSat-X 2015)
  • Operating under the RockSat-X program, the first Project Imua Payload (PIP) was successfully launched on August 12, 2015 by a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket from Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. Its15-minute sub-orbital flight attained an apogee of 96 miles. The PIP payload consisted of an ultraviolet spectrometer for measuring solar irradiance, an array of photosensors for determining the payload’s orientation to the sun and a 9-axis motion detector. Project Imua's Mission 1 resulted in the first payload ever sent into outer space by a UH campus.

    Mission 1's Final Report can be downloaded here.

  • Project Imua Mission 2 (RockSat-X 2016)

    Project Imua’ second payload named PrIME (Project Imua Multiple Experiment) consisted of six experiments. The payload was launched on a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket from Wallops Flight Facility on August 17, 2016. While the launch was a success, the search planes were unable to find and recover the payload.

  • Click to view a NASA-produced video of the Project Imua Mission 2 team efforts at Wallops Flight Facility can be viewed at:

    The payload carried a gamma ray detector that measured thermal neutrons emitted by solar flares as well as secondary neutrons reflected off the earth’s upper atmosphere by cosmic rays and solar protons. This detector was designed and built by the KauaiCC team.

    PrIME also included an innovatively powered rocket that was deployed from the payload deck near apogee. Designed by the WindwardCC team, this rocket, which was nicknamed ScubeR (Super Simple Sublimation Rocket) for its motor’s simplicity in the use of a subliming naphthalene propellant, was fabricated on a 3D printer. Sublimation is the process whereby solid substances change directly into the gaseous state. Perhaps the most familiar of such substances is dry ice. Naphthalene, the chemical used in moth balls, is another.

    Windward CC Project Imua Mission 1 Team


    In order to record ScubeR’s flight parameters, PrIME was outfitted with four cameras. KauaiCC designed two miniature out-board cameras that were mounted on ScubeR’s nosecone and transmit data via Wi-Fi to an on-board receiver. In addition, the Honolulu CC team configured two on-board Mobius Action cameras--one of which recorded video, the other still pictures. The Honolulu team also selected an advanced 9-axis motion tracker to record g-forces. This VectorNav VN-100 device included a barometric pressure sensor to assist in the post analysis of the efficiency of ScubeR’s sublimation propellant.

    The Kapiolani CC team was responsible for developing the payload’s interface and Ninja boards for power and data processing as well as the housing for these circuits. The Kapiolani team also designed a thermocouple sensor, which in tandem with the pressure gauge will provide environmental data for analyzing ScubeR’s performance. The Windward team is further responsible for integrating all subsystems and conducting the pre-flight g-force tests, including spin and vibration.

    Mission 2's Final Report can be downloaded here.


  • Project Imua Mission 3 (RockSat-X 2017)

    Project Imua’s third mission involved designing the payload nicknamed PrIMEAT. Pronounced primate, it stands for Project Imua Multiple Experiment Attempt Two. This payload consisted of subsystems from the previous flight what was not recovered.

    Windward students along with a student from Kauai CC developed an improved micro-thrust rocket (ScubeR). Mission 3’s rocket sub-system included an added heating coil to accelerate sublimation and a re-oriented Hammerhead look-back camera system to photograph the full length of the CarRoLL once ScubeR was released at agogee. The look-back camera was disconnected prior to integration due to WiFi regulations. Mission 3 was conducted in collaboration with HonCC that developed camera monitors and various sensors. The payload PrIMEAT was launched on a RockSat-X sounding rocket from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia on August 13, 2017.

  • Mission 3's Final Report can be downloaded here.


  • Project Imua 4 (ARLISS 2017)

    This mission involved a flyback-quadcopter payload launched from Black Rock, Nevada at the ARLISS (A Rocket Launch for International Student Satellites) rocketry competition. UHCC campuses included WinCC and HonCC.


  • Project Imua 5 (ARLISS 2018)

    Mission 5 developed an improved design of our fly-back quadcopter, which was launched from Black Rock, Nevada at the ARLISS rocketry competition. UHCC campuses included WinCC and HonCC.  WCC students also earned Level 1 and 2 rocketry certification.


  • Project Imua 6 (SLP 2019)

    The sixth mission involved the design, construct and test of a high-power rocket that was launched at Huntsville, Alabama during April 2019 for the NASA Marshall Student Launch Project (SLP). The Mission 6 team built a 10-foot rocket named “Fissure 8,” after the most active fissure during the 2018 Kilauea Volcano eruption. The rocket flew 4,338 feet, which was just under the team’s prediction of 4,700 feet. It carried a payload consisting of a four-wheeled rover, which the team named “Hoomau,” referring to persistence in Hawaiian. The rover collected a soil sample upon landing. The 14-member Project Imua team, consisting of students from Honolulu, Kapiolani and Windward Community Colleges and the UH-Manoa campus, competed on April 6 and eventually won the Rookie of the year award and placed 9th in the coveted 10 top teams of the competition of over 50 schools.

  • Project Imua 7 (ARLISS 2019)

    WCC collaborated with HCC on a re-engineered quadcopter that was flown at September’s international rocketry competition at Black Rock, Nevada. This was WCC’s fourteenth consecutive entry at ARLISS. WCC developed a foldable quadcopter under the control of GPS-assisted software that was designed to guide the fly-back payload to a designed target on the playa. HCC designed and built the Atmospheric Sampling Experiment Package. Several WCC students at ARLISS 2019 also earned their Level 1 and 2 certifications. A prototype test flight for Mission 8 (see below) was also conducted at Black Rock.


  • Project Imua 8 (Spaceport America Cup--ESRA 2020)

    WCC collaborated with HCC on building a hybrid rocket with two-cubesat-small-swarm payload for launch that was originally scheduled at the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA)/Spaceport America Cup competition in June 2020 in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Upon deployment at 4,000 feet AGL, the payload was designed to separate into the main 3U cubesat and a child 1U cubesat. A ground station was established for communicating with the main cubesat which transmitted commands to the child cubesat to obtain weather information. The child cubesat was equipped with a GPS unit, dust sensor, temperature sensor and IMU along with power supply and recording/transmitting units. The main cubesat include an IR video feed that transmitted to the ground station for near real-time viewing. In order to develop and test this hybrid propulsion system, the WCC team used the campus’s rocket test launch facility for static motor tests. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 launch was canceled and the competition extended into the next academic year.

    ESRA 2021was the continuation of the COVID-postponed ESRA 2020 competition. Project Imua Mission 8 resumed under the WinCC mentorship of Dr. Jake Hudson and HonCC mentorship of DR. Shidong Kan.  Dr. Joseph Ciotti served as Project Imua Manager. The rocket Apophis was fully fabricated and underwent final adjustments to its avionics section. The hybrid motor selected for rocket is a commercial off-the-shelf motor produced by Contrail Rockets, which uses liquid nitrous oxide and a proprietary solid fuel. The ESRA organizers of the 2021 Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA)/Spaceport America Cup decided to schedule the competition as an online virtual event from June 18 through June 20, 2021. Since ESRA 2021 competition was converted to a virtual event, WinCC opted to launch Apophis at the ARLISS competition in Black Rock, NV in Fall 2021.


  • Project Imua Mission 9 (ARLISS 2021): ARLISS 2021was WinCC’s fifteenth entry at ARLISS (A Rocket Launch for International Student Satellites). The launch was held on  September 8-12 at Black Rock, Nevada. The hybrid rocket Apophis was successfully launched at the ARLISS competition in Black Rock, NV in Fall 2021. The Project Imua team won First Place in the Several WCC students at ARLISS 2019 also earned their Level 1 and 2 certifications.
  • The Project Imua Mission 9 team won first place in the XPRS Extreme Altitude Competition for the Hybrid Motor Class with the launch of their 12-foot, eight-inch hybrid rocket, named “Apophis” after the Egyptian god of chaos.


    The rocket and payload were finally launched in September 2021 in Black Rock, Nevada as part of the Association of Experimental Rocketry of the Pacific (AERO-PAC)’s competition. The Project Imua team won the altitude contest for the hybrid-motor class rockets after Apophis attained an apogee of 3,413 feet.

    Windward CC rocketry team members Arakawa and Quinn O’Malley also each placed second in the Extreme Altitude Contest for the solid rockets (in different classes) that each built and launched at the AERO-PAC competition. Windward CC graduate and UH Mānoa physics student Jared Estrada has been involved with Project Imua since 2019 and served as project lead for the Mission 9 rocket. The Project Imua team composed of 17 students and six mentors worked on the project for two years, due to pandemic related delays and cancellations.




  • Project Imua Mission 10 (RockSat-X 2022):
    Mission 10’s goal involves the design of an improved ScubeR sublimation-propelled rocket and a more robust video monitoring system. This research would be based on our experience from our previous flights--RockSatX 2016, which unfortunately lost the payload and RockSat-X 2017, which provided encouraging, but inconclusive results for our innovative concept of a sublimation-powered vernier thrust system. For RockSat-X 2022,camphor was selected as the sublimation fuel. In addition, a more stable launching device is being designed for deploying ScubeR at apogee. HonCC is refining its monitoring system used to determine the flight parameters for ScubeR.


    Center for Aerospace Education
    Windward Community College
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    updated: 2/4/22