“Flying Bison” rocket team competes for NASA

“Flying Bison” rocket team competes for NASA

SEARCY, Ark. — The Harding University “Flying Bison” USLI 2009 rocket team will be competing in the University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) challenge at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., April 18.

Harding is one of 20 teams competing in this initiative that is designed to inspire young people to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematic fields that are critical to the NASA mission.

The team consists of two faculty members and 10 students. They are spending the winter designing and building a reusable high-powered rocket that they will launch in April. The rocket must fly to an altitude of one mile and sustain an onboard science experiment that gathers measurable data.

This year the “Flying Bison” team is building a four-inch diameter hybrid rocket with a projected length of nine feet. The payload will be a custom-built spectrometer.

As another part of the initiative, each team develops a project Web site; presents preliminary and post-launch reports to their NASA counterparts; and organizes projects for youth in the area to spread interest in engineering and rocketry.

The USLI is managed by Marshall’s Academic Affairs Office and sponsored by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Harding had a record enrollment this year of more than 6,500 students from 48 states and 52 foreign countries. It is the largest private university in Arkansas and attracts more National Merit Scholars than any other private university in the state. Harding also maintains campuses in Australia, Chile, England, France/Switzerland, Greece, Italy and Zambia.