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About Student Launch

Happy Student Launch participants carry their rockets.

NASA Student Launch is a research-based, competitive, and experiential exploration challenge that provides relevant and cost-effective research and development to support the Space Launch System, or SLS, and Artemis missions. The activity involves reaching a broad audience of middle and high schools, colleges, and universities across the nation in a nine-month commitment to design, build, test and launch vehicle and payload components that support SLS and Artemis. Components fly on high-powered rockets to an altitude determined by the range safety officer and the student team. Supported by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, Next Gen STEM and the U.S. aerospace industry, NASA Student Launch is a NASA-conducted engineering design challenge to provide resources and experiences for students and faculty. The activity is built around a NASA mission, not textbook knowledge. Research/investigation topics are conceived by the SLS and Artemis Program Offices in collaboration with SLS and Artemis industry partners. Students will have the opportunity to engage with NASA Subject Matter Experts and personnel from across the aerospace industry.

After a competitive proposal selection process, teams participate in a series of design reviews with a NASA review panel that mirror the NASA engineering design lifecycle, providing an experience that prepares students for the STEM workforce. Teams must complete a Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, Flight Readiness Review, and Launch Readiness Review before final flight. Team must pass each design review milestone to move onto the next. Following their final launch, teams must analyze payload and flight data during a Post Launch Assessment Review.

Who is Eligible to Submit a Proposal?

Any U.S. College or University can submit a proposal to be considered for the Student Launch Challenge – University Student Launch Initiative (USLI). The USLI Division is a competitive division.

Qualifying Middle Schools, High Schools, and informal education institutions serving students in grades 6-12 can submit a proposal to be considered for the Student Launch Challenge – Student Launch Initiative Division (SLI). The SLI Division is a non-competitive, educational experience division.