NASA has selected 18 middle and high school teams across 12 states to fly in the 2007-2008 Student Launch Initiative rocketeering challenge. The annual challenge is designed to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, engineering, math, and technology - fields vital to NASA's ongoing mission in space.

The Student Launch Initiative was founded in 2001 and is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. The experience challenges students to design and fly working rockets. Each team writes a preliminary design review, critical design review, flight readiness review, and post-launch analysis report - just as NASA engineers working flight missions would do. Teams are also required to design a project Web site and hold local outreach projects to introduce rocketry to younger students.

Guided by Marshall Center engineers and their own teachers, the teams spend eight months designing, building, and launching rockets with built-in, working science payloads and a goal of flying to an altitude of 1 mile. Each new team receives a $2,500 grant and a travel stipend from NASA, and each returning team receives a $1,250 grant. This year's challenge will conclude with the launching of each team's rocket in the Huntsville area in April 2008.

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