NASA University Student Launch Initiative, or USLI, is a competition that challenges university-level students to design, build and launch a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level, or AGL. The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers.
Students propose to participate in USLI during the fall. Once selected, teams design their rocket and payload throughout the academic year. USLI requires a NASA review of the teams' preliminary and critical designs. The project also requires flight readiness and safety reviews before the rockets and payloads are approved for launch. Teams complete a Post-Launch Assessment Review to include conclusions from their science or engineering experiment and the overall flight performance. The Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review and Flight Readiness Review are conducted by a panel of scientists and engineers from NASA, NASA contactors and external partners.
NASA Student Launch Projects are sponsored by ATK Aerospace Systems. The annual launch event is hosted at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala., and launch services are provided by the National Association of Rocketry.
Video Compilation of 2016/2017 Project (credit: member Kurt Lindhult):
This year, we are upgrading the rocket’s onboard camera. For LionTech Rocket Labs annual University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) competition, hosted by NASA, our 10+ foot rocket is always equipped with a downward facing low resolution camera. Our new security camera is a bullet style camera that will allow us to record in Full HD 1080p resolution to a portable DVR with up to 32GB of storage. The camera will be mounted on the rocket externally, with an aerodynamically designed 3D printed housing, and will be used to record launch footage as the rocket ascends and descends from a mile apogee.
Footage from our new camera will be used to create club hype videos as well as to analyze the propulsion system, structural loads on the rocket during ascent, and recovery deployment during descent. During the motor burn phase of the launch, the rocket’s fins experience heavy loads which can cause them to flutter and break off destabilizing the rocket. With 1080p resolution at 30fps, we will be able to see any unwanted perturbations. The rocket has two stages of parachute deployment to prevent drifting while maintaining safe levels of kinetic energy during descent. The camera will allow us to make sure the multiple parachutes are not tangling. We hope to put this camera to good use for years to come!