NASA Student Launch 2016 – 2017 (Apis I)

Apis I launching in Huntsville for NSL 2017. Photo ©2017 Jim Wilkerson, used with permission.

The NASA University Student Launch Initiative (NSL, or USLI) is an annual rocketry competition that takes place in Huntsville, Alabama. The competition challenges student groups not only to innovate in engineering, but also to share that passion for the STEM fields with younger students through educational outreach activities.

In the 2017 event, SOAR developed a rocket that could identify targets on the ground using a camera system and onboard computer, and then perform a controlled upright landing. The rocket launched Alabama on April 8th.

For general information on this competition, see the NASA Student Launch website.

DOCUMENTS (Recent First)


Launch Day!

Both the NASA Student Launch and LDRS rockets are scheduled to launch tomorrow (Saturday, April 8th)! The NSL team will be launching their 13-ft tall, 47.5 lb Apis I with it’s vision recognition/camera aiming payload in Alabama; and the LDRS team will be launching the upper stage of Taurus I… Read more

This week at SOAR -- getting ready for competition!

This is an exciting week for SOAR! Both the Large Dangerous Rocket Ships (LDRS) and NASA Student Launch (NSL) teams are all hands on deck, working on last minute preparations for both events in just a couple of days! Many hundreds of hours have gone into both of these projects,… Read more

Final Launch Day (Before Competition)

On Saturday, March 18th, the NSL team successfully completed the final test launch prior to the competition launch on Saturday, April 9th! For more information on the competition, including dates and location, see the event brochure. You can also tune into the live stream at Ustream on April 9th to… Read more

Flight Readiness Review Report

This is just a heads up that we have published our final report before the actual NASA Student Launch in Alabama next month. This report (the Flight Readiness Review Report or FRR) is 145 pages long and represents our entire project, including test data, launches, safety information, budgeting, and our… Read more

Full-Scale Launch Day

On Saturday, February 20, 2017, the NSL team completed their first full-scale test launch for the 2016-17 season! After a succesful black powder separation test on the ground and despite heavy rain, the launch proceeded as planned. While they didn’t hit the target apogee of 5,280 feet (1,610 m) (reaching… Read more

February Build Days

SOAR has held two build days so far in February, on the 4th and the 11th. During these workdays extensive progress was made in all of SOAR’s major projects, including NSL and LDRS. Don’t miss us at the USF Engineering EXPO tomorrow! NASA Student Launch The NSL computer science team… Read more

2nd January Build Day

On Sunday, January 29th, SOAR held a general build day for all projects at our workshop space. Progress was made on all three of our main projects — NSL, LDRS, and FSGC. NASA Student Launch The NSL rocketry team worked on test-fitting components and tweaking rocket layout. They also began… Read more

General Body Meeting

Our general body meeting last week, on January 5th, had a great turnout! SOAR members were updated on new policies, current project statuses (see the individual project pages for more info), and upcoming events. New project leaders were introduced and the beginning of the appointment process for next year’s main… Read more

January Build Day & Update

On Sunday, January 15th, SOAR held a general build day for the NSL and FSGC Hybrid projects. NASA Student Launch Since the last build days, the NSL team has been busy working on the Critical Design Review Report, a 120-page document detailing our plans and data. This can be retrieved… Read more

December Build Days

On December 3rd, December 10th, and December 18th, SOAR held its first major build days for the NSL 2017 project at our off-campus workshop. A number of systems and tasks were worked on, including: Subscale Rocket This is the smaller rocket that will be launched ahead of time to test… Read more

Subscale Launch Day

On December 17th, SOAR participated in the Tripoli Rocket Association Launch Day at Varn Ranch. The primary goal was to launch our subscale rocket for NSL, which we did, reaching a height of 2,115 ft. The video below shows the launch from the viewpoint of the rocket itself (note: this… Read more

2nd Prototyping Meeting

The NSL Prototyping team held their second meeting this Sunday, November 20th at the Design For X lab. The primary focus of this hands-on meeting was to create a working prototype of the steering system (shown below) for the CS_CE (computer science and computer engineering) team to program and work… Read more

1st Prototyping Meeting

On Sunday, November 13th, SOAR held its first prototyping meeting for NSL 2017 in the Design For X lab on campus. The goal of these prototyping meetings is to use lab time develop a functional prototype that will eventually be developed into the final rocket — sort of like a… Read more

2nd Mechanical Engineering Design Meeting

On October 18th, the NSL Mechanical Engineering team met in the conference room to revise mechanical engineering plans prior to the development of the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) document. Tanner Diberardino led the meeting, answering questions and fielding discussions on both specific and general engineering concerns. The meeting was also streamed… Read more

1st Mechanical Engineering Design Meeting

On September 20th, the mechanical engineering team for NSL met in USF’s Design for X Labs to discuss the fundamental design for our rocket recovery system. Mechanical Engineering Technical Lead for NSL, Jaime Gomez, began the meeting by explaining our proposed design. He and the Head of Mechanical Engineering for SOAR,… Read more

SOAR Submits Proposal for NASA Student Launch 2016 - 2017

On September 29th, SOAR submitted the proposal for 2016 – 2017 NASA Student Launch Initiative (NSL). After several discussion among the SOAR executive board and SOAR’s mentors, and several design meetings, SOAR has decided to pursue the “Target detection and upright landing” option for the NSL competition. The requirements for… Read more

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