Rocket team selected for NASA competition

Tarleton Aeronautical Team

Tarleton State University

Friday, September 28, 2012

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—The Tarleton Aeronautical Team has been selected to compete in the NASA University Student Launch Initiative (USLI), a competition that challenges university students to design, build and launch a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level.

The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers.

“The Tarleton Aeronautical Team is honored to be representing Tarleton at the USIL and is eager to face the competition,” said Dustin Neighbors, a sophomore engineering physics major and team leader.

As part of Tarleton’s selection, the team received contract funding of $2,600 from NASA for the science mission directorate payload, an atmospheric satellite, said Dr. Bo Brawner, a math professor and the team’s faculty adviser. “Only the top six proposals received funding for that payload,” he said. “Some of the others were Penn State, Mississippi State and the University of Louisville.”

The Tarleton team has already participated in an advanced rocketry workshop, held in Huntsville, Ala., in July. Attendees participated in workshops on student rocketry and payload development with NASA scientists and engineers, and toured NASA research and development facilities, Neighbors said.

While the launches will take place in April 2013 in Alabama, work on the project takes months. The competition 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.

“This is obviously a great accomplishment,” Brawner said. “It shows that students from Tarleton can do anything and go anywhere and compete against the very best students in the country. MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) was also accepted, so now we get a shot at them!”

He added that the budget for the competition, including materials and travel, is $27,000. About $12,000 has been raised so far from alumni, the President’s Office and other sources, Brawner said. For information about the team or to help in funding, contact Neighbors at 806-319-3723 or go to the Tarleton Aeronautical Team Facebook page.

Earlier this year, the Tarleton team placed sixth among 41 teams from around the world in the international CanSat (can satellite), a similar competition.


Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System

Contact: Joe Michael Feist

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Rocket team selected for NASA competition - Media Relations - Tarleton State University