The NASA University Student Launch Initiative, or USLI, is a competition that challenges university-level students to design, build and fly a reusable rocket with scientific payload to one mile in altitude. The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers. Students propose to participate in USLI during the fall. Once selected, teams design their rocket and payload throughout the school year. USLI requires a NASA review of the teams' preliminary and critical designs. The project also requires flight readiness and safety reviews before the rockets and payloads are approved for launch. After launch, teams complete a final report to include conclusions from their science experiment and the overall flight performance. The Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, and Flight Readiness Review are conducted by panels of scientists and engineers from NASA and from NASA contactors and external partners.
The primary goal of the competition is to launch a rocket carrying a scientific payload up to an altitude as close to 1 mile (5280 ft) as possible. However, the competition also focuses on a number of secondary goals, such as educational outreach and program sustainability to encourage long-term growth in the field of rocketry and science and engineering in general.
For more complete information, please see the 2011-2012 USLI Competition Handbook.