Cyclone Student Launch Initiative




Our Mission

Our mission is to develop a rocket launch vehicle that meets and exceeds the design requirements posed by NASA in the University Student Launch Initiative challenge.


Project Scope

CySLI designed and constructed a high-powered rocket to launch in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative competition held in Huntsville, AL. Over the course of the year, we went through several rigorous design reviews with NASA in order to present our designs and receive commentary on the project. At the end of the design review process, we constructed and tested the rocket and its individual components. We held two test launches before proceeding to the competition and evaluating our design against other university teams.

Our Goals

  • Compete in NASA’s annual Student Launch competition
  • Finalize a reliable and efficient air brake control system powered by a flight computer
  • Complete an operational system to visually recognize colored ground targets during flight
  • Gather accurate flight data from all full scale launches to further improve our rocket design for not only this year, but many more years to come

Competition 2018

Launch Day 2018 is a wrap! We successfully launched and recovered “This Side Up” in Huntsville on April 8th. Our apogee was 5,680 ft. We are still analyzing our flight data, but this year has already taught us a lot about aerospace, rocketry and flight conditions. You can see this year’s winners in NASA’s news release!

We also received the Best Looking Rocket Award – thank you to our sponsors, Maaco and Zion Designs! 


Team Lead: Daniel Pace

Faculty Adviser: Dr. Thomas Ward

Program Advisor: Matthew Nelson

NAR/TRA Mentor: Gary Stroick

NASA Student Launch

Learn more about NASA’s rocketry competition  

High-Powered Rocketry

Get started in high-powered rocketry!

Launches & Videos

Check out CySLI’s previous rocket launches and videos! 

Subscale Test Launch 2018!


We successfully launched our subscale test in November! The subscale flew three times with perfect results. Check out our flight prep and launch video! More results can be found in our 2018 CDR.

Meet Our 2016-17 Rocket


Measuring 128" in length and 6" in diameter, this rocket weighed approximately 50 lb. It used an L1115 motor and had a top speed of 587 ft/s and experienced nearly 7 G's. Cardinal Heavy's design featured an active roll control system, as well as the air brake system common to all CySLI rockets.

Technical Specifications

  • Length: 128 in.
  • Diameter: 6 in.
  • Motor: Cesaroni 5015L1115-P (4 Grain)
  • Nosecone: 5:1 Ogive
  • Dual Swept Split Fin Design
  • Redundant AIM USB Altimeters
  • Dual Deployment Recovery

View from the Cardinal Heavy during flight