Press Release

Seven State High School Teams to Lauunch Student-built rockets in NASA MSFC Educational Initiative for America’s Future Explorers

By SpaceRef Editor
April 27, 2005
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High school students from Alabama, California, Indiana, New York, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin will test their rocket-building skills during a two-day event this week sponsored by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in collaboration with the Arnold Engineering Development Center at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tenn.

Nine teams will showcase and launch reusable rockets they designed and built during the school year as part of NASA’s Student Launch Initiative, an education program designed to allow high school and college students to experience practical aerospace and engineering activities. Working in teams, students demonstrate proof-of-concept for their designs, develop Web sites dedicated to their work, learn how to budget — including how to present financial proposals to NASA engineers and community leaders — and gain problem-solving skills.

Teams will present their rocket designs to engineers at the Student Launch Initiative Rocket Fair at the Marshall Center Friday, April 22. On the following day, Saturday, April 23, students will launch their rockets from a sod farm, Mid Tenn. Turf, Inc., near Manchester, Tenn.

The first rocket will lift off at approximately 9:30 a.m. CDT and the event will continue until all teams have launched their rockets. The public is invited to attend this event and admission is free. In case of rain on launch day, the event will be held Sunday, April 24.

Each student team will attempt to launch its rocket, which will carry a scientific payload, to an altitude of one mile. Marshall Center engineers will evaluate teams on rocket design, including propulsion, materials, payload and safety features, and Huntsville Area Rocketry Association volunteers will support the launch by assisting with flight hardware check and assessment of target altitude.

“The Student Launch Initiative is one way we encourage young people to get hands-on experience in rocket science, engineering and the nuts and bolts effort it takes to design, build and launch a space craft,” said Jim Pruitt, supervisor of the Academic Affairs Office at the Marshall Center. “These young men and women could very well be working on the Vision for Space Exploration that will take us to the Moon, on to Mars and beyond.” The Vision calls for the Space Shuttle’s Return to Flight, completion of the International Space Station, and human and robotic exploration of the Solar System.

High schools participating for the first time in the 2004-2005 Student Launch Initiative include Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, Calif.; Oakton High School in Vienna, Va.; Skyline High School in Sammamish, Wash.; Madison West High School in Madison, Wis.; University School of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wis.; and Edison High School in Fresno, Calif. Teams returning for the second year include Manlius Pebble High School in DeWitt, N.Y.; Lee High School in Huntsville Ala.; and Goshen High School in Goshen, Ind.

Teams participating for the first time were chosen from schools that competed in the May 2004 Team America Rocketry Challenge at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. The top 25 teams at the 2004 Challenge were invited to submit proposals to participate in the 2005 Student Launch Initiative, and teams participating for the first time received a $2,500 grant.

For the first time, one team — Goshen High School — will participate “long distance,” launching its rocket in Goshen. Event organizers at the Marshall Center hope this first remote participation will encourage other teams to join the Student Launch Initiative in the future.

The Student Launch Initiative is not a competition, but teams will be recognized for excellence in various categories such as best vehicle design, payload and Web site development.

For more information, visit the Marshall Center’s Academic Affairs Web site at:

SpaceRef staff editor.