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NASA Student Launch Competition

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
171 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on November 16, at 12:00 AM EST
Project Owners

Competition Launch

May 02, 2017

It's been a long 8 months, but we've finally made it. The competition was a great experience. After arriving on Wednesday, we conducted our Launch Readiness Review, which we passed with flying colors. Thursday, we visited the space museum and met Lowell Zoller, an engineer on the Apollo missions. Friday we toured Marshall Space Flight Center where we had the opportunity to see the construction of the Space Launch System! Afterwards, we had the rocket fair where we displayed our rocket and met astronaut Charlie Precourt, who was very interested in our landing system. After fixing minor issues Fridaynight, it was finally time to put all of our work to the test.


Launch day began at 5am with our departure to the launch field. The next several hours went into assembly and redundant double checking of every system. Shortly after noon, we were launch-ready. We brought the rocket up to the safety check area where we were given the okay to launch. While waiting for our launch pad to open up, we were interviewed on NASA TV. Eventually, it was launch-time. The T-4 Heavy flew beautifully, nice and straight, reaching an official altitude of 5,403 feet, placing us the 7th (out of 40 universities) closest to a mile. All recovery events occurred as designed for a successful recovery of all components. Unfortunately, the landing legs never deployed, causing the payload section to fall on its side, fracturing 2 of the 5 payloads.


All in all, we discovered all sources of error within our design and are planning a second launch soon to attempt a successful landing. We’ve had a great time with this project and could not have done this without your help, so we would like to thank you again for your contribution. Once the overall results are posted, we will send out our final update. We invite you all to come check out our Sr. Design expo setup this Thursday from, 10am to 2pm, in the Student Activity Center on campus.


Here is a video summary of the last 4 months:

Thanks again,

2016-17 49er Student Launch Team

New Year's Subscale Launch

December 27, 2016

After a productive winter break, the 49er Student Launch team is gearing up for several sub-scale launches this Saturday and Sunday, at the Rocketry of Central Carolina Launch field in Midland, NC. We'll be arriving at 9:30 am, and staying until they close around 4 pm on both days. We'll be gathering flight data for use in our drag modulation control system and upcoming NASA review, as well as testing several other systems in recovery and parachute reefing. We would like to invite you to come out and be apart of the activities while bringing in the new year. Directions to the launch field can be found here.and if you have any questions, you can contact us on our Facebook page or email John Borek at This will be the second time the sub-scale rocket has flown and plan on reaching 6 flights to 5,000 feet by the end of the weekend!

Hope to see you there! 

Final Day!

November 15, 2016

We would like to thank you for getting us to 80% of the goal we set out to reach almost 30 days ago. Your contribution will help ensure our success for this year's competition, so we would like to give you a recap of the past month of this project.

Our goal for this project was to design, test, build, and fly a high-powered rocket capable of carrying and protecting a fragile material to 1 mile in altitude and back to earth successfully. As of now  we have accomplished the design portion of our project, and are now beginning the testing phase. 

Our rocket is projected to be 9 feet long, have an outer diameter of 6 inches that transitions to 5 inches from the nose to the tail end of the rocket. Overall the rocket will weigh 47 pounds and reach accelerations of up to 7.5 g during launch. We will reach a maximum velocity of Mach 0.6, and reach an altitude of 5,900 feet above ground level. Our drag modulation system (air brakes) will be responsible for attenuating our altitude to 5,280 feet in hopes of winning the target altitude portion of the competition.

Our rocket's airframe will be constructed from rolled carbon fiber and fiberglass tubes In an effort to remain lightweight, but structurally rigid. The nosecone landing system, fins, and internal electronics bay's will be constructed from 3D printed materials, which allows us to be extremely efficient with use of space with the ability to create complex geometry that traditionally cannot be manufactured. 

Our fragile material protection system will comprise of an airtight chamber that will be suspended between two fix bulkheads within the rocket's frame. With springs on each side of the chamber, any acceleration experienced by the rocket will be absorbed by the air on either side of the chamber coupled with the spring's. to ensure that the payload experiences smaller forces that the rocket.

On another note, we have now had three different outreach events where we had the privilege of engaging K-12 students in STEM  related activities.These young bright students will now have a head start in their lives in making their future a better place to live in. 

We have events lined up to see over 300 students in the next coming months, as well as several rocket test launches as we move closer and closer to going to NASA. Help us get there the rest of the way by sharing our project to as many people as possible so that we may reach our goal and be successful!

Thank you again so much!

49er Student Launch Team


Outreach and Parachute testing

November 13, 2016

We've been hard at work the past couple of days! We've just finished the initial round of parachute testing by doing a good old fashion drop test, We’re testing several types of reefing rings as well as a Jolly Logic Chute deployment system. As you can see the Jolly Logic results in a very sudden opening of the chute during descent. We also recently did an outreach event with a local Girl Scouts troop, we helped them build their very own water rockets and launch them. We had a real great time doing this and it was all made possible by your donations. Help us get the rest of the way to our goal by sharing our project. 

Thank you, 49er Rocket Team!


Preliminary design review with NASA

November 08, 2016

Our first major milestone with NASA is almost completed. We have submitted all documentation required for preliminary design review, which is available to you on through our team website at:

Our live presentation with NASA is on Friday, November 18 at 8 AM CST. We will be practicing our presentation next Tuesday and Thursday in Duke Centennial Hall, room 324, at 6:30 PM. We invite you to come out and observe, ask questions, and provide feedback so that we are ready for NASA.

With only seven days left on our crowdfunding campaign, we need your help in reaching as many people as possible. One of our favorite alumni has offered to match the largest donation up to $500 by the end of this week, so help us by donating today!

Preliminary Design Review Preparation

October 25, 2016

As our first NASA review approaches, the 49er Student Launch team is finalizing the design of the rocket. To see the landing leg deployment, follow this link:

This past Sunday, we had the opportunity to join the Hickory Science Center's Tech Club and help 11 bright middle school students build and launch their own rockets. After launching their rockets, we introduced them to rocket flight simulation software, where they analyzed the rocket they had built. Help us continue to give back to the community and build up our future generation by donating today!

We also want to give you the opportunity to name our rocket. All you have to do is donate $10 in honor of naming the rocket "Name", and during the final week of our campaign, we will draw a name from all those suggested!

Drag Mod update

October 12, 2016

We're currently working out the Kinks on a drag mod system to help control the flight of the rocket, We'll be showing it off at Bob's Bash in the Duke Lobby, stop by the check it out! 

Choose a giving level


Space Cadet

Name the Rocket - Suggest the name you would like to see on the side of the rocket, and during the final week of our campaign, we'll draw one name from those suggested to name our rocket!


Junior Rocketeer

$25 will help feed a 49er Student Launch Member for a day in Huntsville, AL when we go to competition!


Rocket man

Want to stake your claim? Help build our rocket with your donation.



Every donation will be a rocket launch. The more we launch, the better we'll do at competition!


The Buzz Aldrin

Send a 49er Student Launch Member to NASA . Huntsville, AL is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Your donation will make that happen!

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