3 Dec :HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — NASA has invited 14 groups of ambitious young rocketeers from 11 middle schools, high schools and youth organizations around the country to light up the sky over North Alabama during NASA’s 2008-2009 Student Launch Initiative rocketry challenge.
The rocketeering challenge will be held April 15-20, 2009, when student teams will converge on NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for a professional review of their rockets by NASA engineers. Day-long launch activities will take place at nearby Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala.
The annual event, which Marshall manages, is designed to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — fields important to NASA’s exploration mission.
Each team will design, build and field-test a rocket while gaining real experience in managing complex, technical development projects from the drawing board to the launch pad. They must address twin challenges: designing a vehicle capable of traveling to an altitude of 1 mile and devising an on-board science experiment that can survive the trip and deliver data when the rocket parachutes back to Earth.
Teams are eligible to participate in the program for one or two years. Each new team receives a $3,700 grant, and each returning team receives a $2,450 grant.
In addition to designing and flying working rockets, participants will develop a project Web site, and write and submit preliminary and post-launch reports like NASA engineers working actual missions. Teams also will devise outreach projects for schools or youth organizations in their area, helping to spread interest in rocketry to students younger than themselves.