SHARP is a NASA Ames Research Center project studying new aerodynamic shapes with sharp leading edges for the atmospheric exit and re-entry of space vehicles. These shapes require
new advanced ceramic thermal protection systems.

The Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) had a Cooperative Agreement with NASA Ames to develop SHARP test re-entry vehicles. The Composites Research Group at Montana State University built the structure of the SHARP S1 re-entry vehicle. Click here to view photos and drawings of the Composite Group's structure. Click here to view early design photos and drawings. This group of graduate and undergraduate students, led by Professor Doug Cairns, designed and built the carbon/epoxy shell and steel tip (for ballast) of the S1. The S1 was to be launched near Casper, Wyoming, during the fall 2000 launch window; however, failure of the launch vehicle contractor caused the mission to be canceled.  The goal of the S1 flight was to test the flight systems and capture some of the basic aerodynamic properties of the SHARP body during re-entry. Click here to go to the SHARP Structure Group Website. NOTE: The Sharp S1 structure was completed by the MSU student-mentor team and remains flight certified and ready for launch.

S1 was to be the first of a series of three sounding rocket test re-entry vehicles to be built at MSU under the terms of a Cooperative Agreement with NASA Ames Research Center.  Lack of suitable launch vehicles, however, caused cancellation of the Cooperative Agreement by Ames in 2001.


NASA has contracted with several other groups to assist in certain aspects of the project. The groups and their responsibilities are broken down as follows:

Contact Information

Mail: Mr. Aaron Sears
Dr. Doug Cairns
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717

E-mail: Doug Cairns
Phone: (406) 994-6050
FAX: (406) 994-6292

MSGC Montana Space Grant Home

July 21, 2003