We are the TJHSST Excelsior Aerospace Club.

Excelsior aims to bring aerospace applications to TJ. We build UAVs, rockets, balloon systems, space systems and compete in various aerospace competitions.

We meet every Wednesday during 8th period, A-block. Come join us and be part of something exciting.


Faculty Sponsor Adam Kemp
Co-Presidents Tarun Punnoose and Peter Rohrer
Treasurer Chris Loftus
Secretary Markus Koniger
Webmaster Saurav Velleth

Project SOAR

This year, TJ will be attempting to send a weather balloon to near space with a UAV attached, releasing the UAV at 100,000 ft and flying it down: TJ Strategic Outer-Atmospheric Aerial Reconnaissance (SOAR). TJ will be the first high school or university to ever attempt this kind of project. While it may seem overly ambitious, we plan to leverage our pipeline of aerospace contacts from the TJ3Sat project to ensure that the project’s chances of success are maximized. Outreach is also a large portion of this project: we intend to engage both the TJ and local community, as well as create a platform for other schools to replicate our system.


Started in 2006 and sponsored by Orbital Sciences, TJ3Sat became the first satellite in history designed and built by high school students when it launched from Wallops Flight Facility on November 19, 2013 on an Orbital Minotaur I rocket. TJ3Sat itself is a phonetic voice synthesizer and will act as an educational resource for K-12 education worldwide. Click here for more information.


TJ Excelsior annually competes in the national Battle of the Rockets Mars Rover competition in Culpeper, Virginia, competing against teams from schools like Yale, the University of Texas, and Virginia Tech. The challenge is to deploy a rover from a high power rocket that will traverse the ground in a specified pattern. Last year, our rover successfully deployed, and this year, we are aiming to win the event outright.


In 2012 and 2013, Excelsior constructed and flew an autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle based on the Ardupilot UAV platform. The club gained experience with autonomous systems, control systems, radio control, and telemetry which will prove invaluable for TJ SOAR. The UAV continues to be used as a test platform and as a training resource.


Real World Design Challenge

In 2013, TJ Excelsior competed in the Real World Design Challenge UAV Design competition, using industry tools like Creo(formerly Pro Engineer), Mathcad, and FloEFD to simulate and design a complex Unmanned Aerial System. TJ placed first in Virginia and went on to compete in the National RWDC competition.

CONRAD Spirit of Innovation Challenge

In 2012 and 2013, Excelsior competed in the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge. In both years, the teams were Semifinalists, in 2012 for their ion-propulsion fuel storage tanks, and in 2013 in two categories, for their styptic bullet and dynamic traffic control system proposals. The Dynamic Traffic Control System concept won Honorable Mention.


Outreach is a major part of the TJ Excelsior Aerospace Club. We currently maintain a team of employees and volunteers regularly working at the National Air and Space Museum, Udvar Hazy Center in order to engage and inspire the general public and children about aerospace, science, and technology.


TJ Excelsior Aerospace Club
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology
6560 Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22312