For 25 student teams from schools and organizations across the United States, the road to NASA began in Virginia as they competed in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the world's largest model rocket contest. The annual contest, which culminated in the launch of their model rockets May 19, drew thousands of students.
For the top performers, the journey continues at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center for an advanced rocketry workshop this summer and an invitation to submit proposals for the NASA Student Launch Initiative in the upcoming academic year. Managed by the Marshall Center, the NASA Student Launch Initiative is a hands-on engineering project that challenges students to design, build, test and launch a reusable vehicle and payload to an altitude of one mile.
Preparation for the next Student Launch Initiative begins in July, with one faculty member from each qualifying team invited to a NASA workshop in Huntsville, where educators can tour Marshall facilities and talk rocketry with NASA scientists and engineers. "Partnering with the Team America Rocketry Challenge is one way that NASA encourages student exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said Tammy Rowan, interim manager of the Marshall Center's Academic Affairs Office. "But it's more than seeing scientific and mathematical principles come to life. It's also about teamwork, and selling your ideas - skills needed in virtually any career." Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, based in Arlington, Va., May's Team America Rocketry Challenge in Virginia encourages each team to design, build and fly a model rocket carrying one raw egg. The goal was to fly to 850 feet, stay aloft for 45 seconds and return the egg safely to Earth.