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Shooting for the stars: Lambert High School students take first place at global rocket science competition
A team of Lambert High School students shared information about their company, AstraCell, at the 2022 Conrad Challenge Innovation Summit in Houston, Texas. Photo courtesy of Lambert High School.

A team of Lambert High School students were recently named winners for aerospace and aviation at the 2022 Conrad Challenge Innovation Summit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The Conrad Challenge encourages students across the globe to work in teams over the course of a school year to find innovative solutions and products to solve issues within the realm of rocket science.

Lambert students Ishan Mahajan, Sarvesh Prabhu, Srirag Tatavarti and Varnica Basavaraj worked together to research and create their innovation, starting a company called AstraCell to help improve space travel.

The students came up with the idea at lunch one day as they talked about NASA’s plan to go to Mars. They researched what it would take for the country’s astronauts to get to the planet and found that rocket fuel cells would need to last for 10,000 hours.

But currently, the students explained that traditional fuel cells not only have safety concerns, but they also require platinum, putting a strain on mine workers.

“AstraCell is an innovative alternate fuel cell technology that alleviates traditional fuels’ safety and durability concerns while optimizing cost and efficiency,” according to AstraCell’s website. “Additionally, AstraCell benefits the environment by using a new biological component system. It is a profitable yet environmentally beneficial solution.”

As a reward for winning the Conrad Challenge, the team received additional funding to continue developing AstraCell. They hope to license the fuel cell products in the next five years.

The students thanked their science teachers at Lambert High School and engineering teacher Josh Sullivan.

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From the left, Sarvesh Prahbu, Srirag Tatavarti, Ishan Mahajan and Varnica Basavaraj present information about their company, AstraCell, in which they are working to patent an alternative fuel cell technology for space travel. Photo courtesy of Lambert High School.