Rocketry in Durham

Mission Statement:

The NCSSM Rocketry Team is closely aligned with other schools in our area and we have participated as part of the Durham Area Rocketry Team (DART). We trace our beginning to a team at the Durham School of the Arts (DSA) in 2011. Four students (pictured right) collaborated on a TARC rocket, achieving national honors for their work and qualifying for NASA SL for 2012-2013. 

DART qualified to participate in the NASA Student Launch Initiative (SLI) through the high placement of a team of seniors from the Durham School of the Arts (DSA) in the 2011 Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). Last year, students from multiple Durham high schools collaborated to write a proposal for the NASA SLI program for the first time, but the team’s proposal was not selected for the program.  The team came back as a returning team in 2012 and was able to produce a successful proposal. 

DART re-submitted a proposal in 2012, which luckily was accepted. The team, composed of students from Jordan High School, NCSSM, and DSA, spent a year designing, building, and testing their rocket. Through the Student Launch Initiative, the team became a contractor for NASA, providing the participants with experience in aerospace engineering and the design review process. 

As an essential component of the project, DART wrote a proposal and three extensive design reviews detailing key stages of development prior to the launch. Their goal was to launch and safely recover the 8’6” rocket, proudly dubbed, "No Bull!" to an altitude of one mile, while testing the accuracy and redundancy of TARC altimeters.

After the first successful year of DART, the team continued its progress by continuing to compete in NASA SL, Battle of the Rockets (BOTR), and TARC.

DART Websites may still be available at:

In 2016, DART had essentially broken into two teams: one at Jordan High School and the other at NCSSM. Thus, NCSSM Rocketry was born. That year, NCSSM won 24th at TARC Nationals, qualifying NCSSM Rocketry for NASA SL for the first time, allowing it to apply to NASA SL for 2017 and 2018

In 2017 and 2018, we submitted proposals and were accepted both times. Our 2017-2018 team successfully launched Gemini, with its duel payload to predict drift and for parachute release. 

In 2018-19 the team flew a rocket to student the effect of base drag on rocket performance and also won the 3rd Place Judge's Choice Award. One of our four TARC teams qualified for the national event in 2018-2019 and was able to participate in the national launch in Washington DC. The teams rocket performed well but, unfortunately, not well enough to qualify for NASA SL in 2019.