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Written by Thomas   
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 11:54

University Student Launch Initiative Logo

FLARE works with the NASA University Student Launch Initiative at NMSU. Professor Lynn S. Kelly of the Department of Engineering Technology and Survey Engineering at New Mexico State University is the sponsor for the program. FLARE provides mentoring and launch support for this high power program.

"NASA University Student Launch Initiative, or USLI, is a competition that challenges university-level students to design, build and launch a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level, or AGL. The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers." Here is the official NASA site for USLI.

The team name is the Atomic Aggies. John DeMar is the mentor and safety officer for the project. Thomas Kindig is the journeyman Mentor and is assisting with IT and media.

This page provides some basic tools and practical considerations for students participating in the program.


Software modeling is a powerful tool for exploring the design of your rocket. There are both commercial and open source programs designed for modeling rockets in flight. Here are a few that we recommend.

Basic Modeling

  • OpenRocket – an open source, Java based, model rocket simulator allows you to design your rocket from nose cone to fins. It can be used to design and simulate rockets before actually building and flying them. OpenRocket features a full six-degree-of-freedom simulation, realistic wind modeling, a multitude of different components including free-form fins and canted fins, clustering and staging.  Visit the OpenRocket web siteAdvantages: Free. Cross platform. Very good flight modeling. Disadvantages: No stock parts databases, items must be entered manually.
  • RockSim – a full featured rocket design and simulation program from Apogee Components. RockSim is a commercial software and individual and classroom licensing are available. It allows a modeler to design their rocket, and then perform a detailed and accurate simulation that predicts how well it will fly. Predicts the dynamic stability of the rocket. This is displayed as a movie-like animation of the rocket's trajectory; so even non-scientists can easily see how the vehicle will perform. Allows printing of templates, pattern sheets, as well as 3D pictures of the model. Visit the RockSim page at Apogee Rocketry. Advantages: Rich databases of stock parts, and Motors. Databases may be supplemented with publicly available add-on databases. Disadvantages: Cost.

Note that these rocket modeling programs are excellent for interactive, iterative, modeling of your rocket with payload mass. When it comes time to fine tune a design and check flight characteristics at high velocity, it is time to graduate to RASAero.

Advanced Modeling

  • RASAero – a combined aerodynamic analysis flight simulation software package. RASAero can also be used for predicting aerodynamic coefficients for use in other flight simulation programs for orbital rockets. Visit the RASAero site.
  • – has motor files for use in flight simulations.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 16:04

Upcoming Events

Sport Launch

FLARE Sport rocket launch at 9:00 am on Saturday, January 6 at the Waterfalls Launch site. The business meeting will follow at 11:30 at Los Compass on Commerce drive.

HPR Launch

High Power Rocket launch at the SMRA Launch Site in Alamogordo on Saturday, December 16. The launch begins at 9:00 and ends when we run out of motors or fair wind conditions.


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