Cornell Rocketry Team



Cornell Rocketry is excited to participate in the NASA Student Launch for the fourth year in a row! Founded in 2013, the team has grown at a breakneck pace. On our first entry to the NASA Student Launch, we won 4th place overall. And for the 2016 Student Launch CRT was named the Centennial Challenge champion as well as 3rd place overall! Last year, we placed 3rd overall.

The Nasa Student Launch Competition

“The NASA Student Launch is a research-based, competitive and experiential exploration project” – NASA

For more than 10 years, over 20 teams from universities all over the country have designed, built, and launched custom vehicles with the expressed goal of developing skills and interests in rocket design and construction. The eight-month process, from September to April, constitutes a thoroughly prescribed design and build cycle that mimics the NASA engineering design lifecycle. Such an experience gives participants critical insights and practice in the rapidly expanding field of space exploration.

NASA releases design requirements in September, and teams are given complete creative control over how to meet those requirements. As a result, a wide variety of designs are seen at competitions each year – from large, powerful rockets to small, nimble ones.

After a competitive proposal selection process that begins in October of every year, teams submit several technical documents to NASA with details of, and rationale for, design decisions. Among these documents are the PDR – Preliminary Design Review, which includes initial design decisions and which shows how the proposed design will meet each requirement, the CDR – Critical Design Review , which lays out the final design, and the FRR – Flight Readiness Review, which shows that the launch vehicle has been constructed in such a way as to satisfy the designs set forth in the CDR and which proves its viability.

This Year’s Challenge

For the 2017-2018 school year, we are competing in the NASA Student Launch. Requirements for this year’s competition include, but are not limited to:

  • Launch to precisely 5,280 feet above ground level
  • Be sufficiently durable so that the rocket can be launched, recovered, and re-launched on the same day without significant repairs or modifications
  • Reach the required height with a single engine stage
  • Design a rover that can move autonomously after landing of the rocket 5 ft in any direction. The afterward, the rover shall unfold solar panels.

Our work this year has centered around this competition. An abridged timeline of our work follows.

  • September – Receive competition requirements, begin initial design, and draft proposal
  • October – Proposal accepted; design work continues, with a focus on writing the first piece of technical documentation – the Preliminary Design Review
  • November – Submit the Preliminary Design Review, and continue tweaking and perfecting design
  • January – Submit and discuss with NASA our completed Critical Design Review – Begin manufacturing parts for the launch vehicle and ground station assembly
  • March – Test launch of our full scale launch vehicle and the completion and submission of the Flight Readiness Review
  • April – The last month of the eight-month process: competition! The team takes the completed launch vehicle and ground station assembly and travels to Huntsville, Alabama to compete!


All technical documentation can be accessed through the following links.

Please direct any questions or requests for additional documentation to