LUDLOW MP Philip Dunne is encouraging aspiring astronauts and rocket scientists, aged 11-18 to compete in the UK’s largest youth rocket competition, the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge.

Last year team UK went on to beat the USA, France and Japan at the international final in Paris.

The UK now looks to the next national champion to retain this international title on home turf at Farnborough International Airshow in July 2020. The hunt is now on for the next champion, which could be from south Shropshire.

UKRoC involves the design, build and launch of a model rocket with the aim of ensuring the ‘passenger’ – one raw egg – remains intact throughout the launch and landing.

Weighing a maximum of 650 grams, the rocket must reach 800 feet with a specific target flight duration of 40-43 seconds.

Rules governing the competition are altered every year to ensure old designs can’t be repeated.

Teams across the UK compete regionally to qualify for the national finals with the winners representing the UK in a fly-off against teams from the USA, Japan and France at the 2020 Farnborough International Airshow.

UKRoC enables young people to gain practical insight into how science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects are used by the aerospace and space sectors which employ more than 160,000 people across the UK.

“The UK Youth Rocketry Challenge provides students with a unique opportunity to work together and learn key skills in engineering and physics, paving the way for them to become the future engineers and scientists our country needs,” said Mr Dunne.

The first man to walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong more than 50 years ago but moon flights that inspired many young people to take an interest in space and astronomy finished in the 1970’s.

Since then all manned missions have taken place in earth orbit doing good but less inspiring work.