Phoenix Squadron Team.From left to right:
Yelizar Dergachev, Jordan Norwood, Sydney Norwood, Michael Belair, Hannah Tepley

A team of students from the Anoka County Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol, based in Blaine, MN, is among a select group of 10 teams nationwide to compete in the National Finals in the Air Force Association’s (AFA) StellarXplorers V National High School Space Competition in Colorado Springs, Colorado in April. Teams will travel all-expenses-paid to compete for the title of National Champion in this STEM competition program.

The 10 National Finalist teams advanced through extremely competitive online qualifying rounds to earn the distinction of being National Finalists. Our team – The Phoenix Squadron – is composed of five cadets and supported by a team director.

Teams designed satellite orbits, specified spacecraft components, and selected rocket boosters to meet a stringent set of mission requirements. At this year’s National Finals Competition, teams compete to define a space system concept to meet a different, more difficult mission scenario. Included in the competition will be a briefing from each team outlining their concept and why it would best meet the specified requirements.

The Anoka Composite Squadron team — nicknamed The Phoenix Squadron — is one of 215 teams that participated in this national competition. It is the only team in Minnesota and the North Central Region in the competition. It is the only Civil Air Patrol team to earn one of 10 places in the National Finals.

“StellarXplorers has provided our cadets with an engaging competition to help them discover that they can be the next generation of space professionals. Our world needs these youth to lead the way, discovering what’s out there, and how it can benefit our world and our future. Too often, the world discourages innovation and risk. It takes both to be successful in life and in space exploration. I’m excited for our team from Minnesota, so far away from the center of the space industry. We’ve shown the world that Minnesota youth can do this work and they want these opportunities. We are the future of SpaceNorth.    ̶ Maj Mary Albright, Team Director, Phoenix Squadron

Created by the Air Force Association (AFA), StellarXplorers is designed to inspire and motivate high school students and their educators to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through a challenging space system design competition.

The program is made possible through the support of the Air Force STEM Program, United Launch Alliance, Orbital ATK, SpaceX, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Analytical Graphics Inc. and the Space Foundation.

The Phoenix Squadron team members include: co-Captains Michael Belair and Yelizar Dergachev, Jordan Norwood, Sydney Norwood and Hannah Tepley

For more information about StellarXplorers, visit


Point of Contact:
Maj Mary Albright