Students Launch Rockets with Support from United Launch Alliance and Ball Aerospace

©United Launch Alliance

Student rocket launch.

High-power sport rockets carried payloads thousands of feet above the plains of Pueblo, Colo., Saturday at the United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Student Rocket Launch.

The event marked the culmination of an experience designed to simulate a real-life launch campaign and encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The launch featured three high-power sport rockets built by interns at ULA, including the Future - the largest rocket to launch in Colorado. Ball interns created the five largest payloads (onboard experiments/instruments), and K-12 students from Colorado and Alabama created 12 additional payloads.

Working on their own time, the ULA and Ball interns designed, built and tested the rockets and the payloads (onboard instruments/experiments that are deployed after launch) with the guidance of mentors from both companies. Approximately 60 interns and 30 mentors
from ULA as well as 49 interns and 25 mentors from Ball participated this year.

This year's lineup of rockets included the 25-foot-tall Future, which carried 14 payloads to an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet. The "Stars 'N' Stripes" is a 17-foot rocket and carried two payloads, and the "Atlas IV," at 10 feet tall, deployed a single payload.

The Southern Colorado Rocketeers (SCORE), Colorado Springs-based rocketry club (COSROCs) and Northern Colorado Rocketry (NCR) also launched rockets throughout the event.

Ball interns, collectively known as BIRST (Ball Intern Rocket Science Team), designed, built and tested the five largest payloads. This year's concepts included: a fully-equipped life support system carrying a crew of grasshoppers to a new home in Pueblo; a bio-friendly glitter bomb; a self-guided quad-copter; a wacky, wavy inflatable man; and a solar balloon.

Twelve K-12 student teams from five schools in Colorado and Alabama also built payloads. Many incorporated parachutes, cameras and instruments including GPS, accelerometers and Geiger counters. The student designers will use them to learn more about the environment, the atmosphere, descent velocities and even the best way to recharge AA batteries.

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