The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

The Official Student Newspaper of Tarleton State University since 1919

the JTAC

    Tarleton State University Aeronautical and Rocketry Team

    Reaching greater heights in the NASA University Student Launch Initiative

    Over 70 different teams from some of the top universities in the nation compete within the NASA University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) to design, build, test, and eventually launch their rockets, reaching altitudes anywhere from 3,500 to 6,000 feet.

    In 2022, Tarleton State University’s Aeronautical and Rocketry Team won the competition overall, receiving the Experiment Design Award for the most creative and innovative payload design while maximizing safety and science.

    “Each year they specify the payload for the rocket, and this year it’s a landing vehicle that can’t use a parachute, streamer, or any other type of drag device to slow it down. And it also can’t use energetics meaning rocket motors, we can’t use any below 500 feet. So our concept is a quad-copter or drone-type device,” Team Leader Jeffrey Shinn said.

    This rocket science competition contains several different milestones, including a proposal to NASA. Once their proposal is accepted, they will complete a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), a Critical Design Review (CDR), a Flight Readiness Review (FRR), and then a Place Launch Actions Review (PLAR).

    Story continues below advertisement

    “So you do a whole lot of reporting, a whole lot of designing, and then you eventually build the rocket, which we’re kind of in the build phase right now,” Shinn said.

    The launch date for the rocket is May 4, and then the team will do another demonstration flight with the payload in April.

    If they complete these milestones while keeping the rocket intact, they will advance to the competition in Huntsville, Alabama.

    A core team of capstone engineering students, consisting of five mechanical and one electrical student who is the lead over the payload/drone, is the glue that holds this operation together.

    “We have a launch vehicle lead, we have a safety lead, a recovery lead, so the parachutes and everything, they’d be in charge of all of that which is a really difficult thing to do when you’re traveling as fast as you are, having to get the parachutes out without tearing the rocket apart,” Shinn said. “And also trying to get this drone out, because we have to push the drone out of the rocket at 400 feet according to the rules.”

    However, there is a lot more to this process than building the rocket itself, so the team could benefit from the skillsets of not only STEM students but other majors as well.

    “We would like to have more business students, and English majors would be great because we do a lot of report writing,” Shinn said.

    There is also a huge emphasis on gaining the funds necessary to compete.

    “We could use finance students because we’re spending a lot of money on this. Today we spent about 8,000 dollars on parts; travel costs money. If we had marketing, people that were good marketers, we could go out, get sponsors, and all sorts of stuff,” Shinn said.

    The 2024 Tarleton Aeronautical and Rocketry team has a total of 26 members, each with varying levels of interest.

    “I would like to see a lot more freshmen come along so that we can build a team that has continuity from year to year,” Shinn said. “My goal is to get people interested in it early so that they can build their way up to leading it someday, and actually have the knowledge that we don’t have at this point.”

    Along with the recognition of competing in a NASA competition, there are some additional benefits to joining Tarleton’s Aeronautical and Rocketry team.

    “Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, sometimes building is the best way to learn. Rocket club is one of the few places to do that,” freshman, Noah Reynolds said.

    This unique hands-on experience is a great opportunity for students here at Tarleton State University. With their high performance in past competitions, as well as the potential of future leaders with more experience, this program is sure to succeed.

    For more information, visit:,, or

    Leave a Comment
    More to Discover
    About the Contributor
    Brooklyn McKinney
    Brooklyn McKinney, Staff Writer

    Comments (0)

    All the JTAC Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *