Point of Contact:
Dr. Darryll J. Pines
Professor and Chair
Aerospace Engineering
3181 Martin Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

(301) 405-0263

Purpose and Scope

The Constellation University Institutes Project (CUIP) is a consortium of approximately 24 universities in the United States working a cooperative agreement with NASA to focus on addressing the technical challenges of the NASA Constellation Program. To this end, the technical portfolio of CUIP is comprised of the following key technical areas, or virtual institutes (VIs):

  • Thrust Chamber Assemblies (TCA)
  • Propellant Storage and Delivery (PSD)
  • Reentry Aerothermodynamics (RA)
  • Structures and Materials for Extreme Environments (SMEE)
  • Solids (SOL)
  • Systems Engineering and Integration (SEI)

NASA centers heavily involved in Constellation application of these technical areas are involved in extensive technical collaboration with the university researchers at the task level. This collaboration is integrated within the Constellation Program and occurs for Constellation Program Level II Offices, the Crew Launch Vehicle Project, the Crew Exploration Vehicle Project, the Lunar Lander Project, and other Constellation Projects that are established over the course of the program.

There are over 50 baselined task plans within the CUIP.

Our objectives for this project are as follows:

  1. Perform research and development that addresses critical Constellation needs.
  2. Enhance and broaden the ability of the nation’s universities to meet the needs of NASA’s programs.
  3. Expand the nation’s talent base for NASA mission-related research and development and technology maturation.
  4. Strengthen NASA’s ties to academia through long-term, directed, and sustained investment.


The Constellation University Institutes Project Management Team serves as the liaison or "courier" for the Project and its various entities that comprise the whole CUIP: the universities, the government, and industry. While trying to position the tasks to best meet the needs of Constellation, the Management Team strives to equip each entity with the information required to optimize its efforts.

The project organization encompasses six virtual institutes (VIs) which address problems of fundamental importance to Constellation. The VIs all follow the same format of having a lead NASA technical expert who helps guide the research efforts from the various tasks within each VI, in addition to at least one NASA point-of-contact per task (in most cases, there are several NASA stakeholders per task as well). In total, there are 24 universities, 50 tasks, greater than 80 faculty, 100 students, and last year, over 200 workshop, conference, and archival publications.

The University of Maryland leads the One CUIP from a management perspective.

The graphic below illustrates the 24 universities together feeding into the six VIs, representing a true One CUIP...which works to address the challenges of Constellation.

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The Constellation University Institute Project



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