The UNC Charlotte 49er Rocketry Team competes in the NASA Student Launch is a research-based, competitive and experiential exploration project that provides relevant and cost-effective research and development to support the Space Launch System, or SLS. The project involves reaching a broad audience of colleges and universities across the nation in an eight-month commitment to design, build, and fly payloads or vehicle components that support SLS.  Participation is limited to U.S. Institutions. Based on research needs, these payloads and components fly on high-power rockets to an altitude determined by the range safety officer and the team. Supported by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and U.S. aerospace industry, NASA Student Launch is a NASA-conducted engineering design challenge to provide resources and experiences for students and faculty. The project is built around a NASA mission, not textbook knowledge. Research/investigation topics are conceived by the SLS Program Office in collaboration with SLS industry partners. Payloads developed by teams will address research needs of different subsystems on the SLS. The teams will share the research results, which will be used in future design and development of SLS and other projects.

After a competitive proposal selection process, teams participate in a series of design reviews that are submitted to NASA via a team-developed website. These reviews mirror the NASA engineering design lifecycle, providing an experience that prepares students for the Human Exploration and Operations workforce. Teams must complete a Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, Flight Readiness Review, and Launch Readiness Review that includes a safety briefing. Teams must analyze payload and flight data during a Post Launch Assessment Review. In addition, teams must successfully complete an initial and a final Launch Readiness Review that includes a safety inspection prior to launch.

Read more about NASA Student Launch here.