Eight students at Victory Christian Center School are preparing to take flight with NASA this spring.
The students, part of their school’s rocket team, were recently awarded $3,700 from NASA to design and build a high-powered rocket for the 2013 Student Launch Initiative Project in Huntsville, Ala.
The eight-member team: Te’ Ericka Jackson, Michael Kizer, Stephen Beaty, Caleb Brockman, Melody Jackson, Jonathan Harris, Nhi Tran and DeQuan Mitchell. Their advisor, Kimberly Williams, said she is thrilled her students were the only Charlotte team selected to compete.
“With their confidence, they can achieve anything,” Williams said.
To qualify for the upcoming NASA challenge, last year’s rocket team had to compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), the world’s largest rocket contest, held in Virginia. That was in May, and the Victory Christian team ranked 18th among about 100 teams.
NASA selected the Victory Christian team for the 2013 challenge after the team submitted a rocket design proposal in August. About 100 proposals were received nationwide and the school placed in the top 25, said Ramona Patterson, spokeswoman for Victory Christian.
Aside from launching their rocket in Alabama, the team will also participate in workshops led by NASA scientists and engineers. Workshops will be centered around student rocketry and payload development.
“We are getting anxious, but not nervous,” DeQuan said of the trip.
Team members are now spending their afternoons, and sometimes weekends, building a rocket to be launched in April.
They are using an online rocket simulation program called Open Rocket, to help predict how well their rocket will fly and the altitude it will achieve. One of the main regulations in the NASA launch contest is that a team’s rocket cannot exceed an altitude of 1 mile.
“They want to see that we can control our rocket,” DeQuan said.
The Victory Christian rocket will be comprised of multiple parts, including an altimeter, a GPS in the nosecone, a parachute, O2 and CO2 sensors and insulation, the classmates said.
Team members agree that one of their goals is to build their rocket so it remains intact during flight. They are using magna-frame, a strong steel material, for the shell of their rocket. Color choices are still being debated: So far, both an Iron Man theme and cow print design are top contenders, team members said, laughing.
“It’s a high-powered rocket, going a mile into the air,” Jonathan said. “I just don’t want it to fall apart.”
The team is also planning fundraising projects to offset costs of the seven-hour bus trip to Alabama.
“This is something we can enjoy and remember the rest of our lives,” Te’ Ericka said.