By Sammy Roth
The Rocketry Club received a $3,700 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to build a rocket which can carry a scientific payload a mile into the air.
NASA gave the grant to 14 rocketry teams, most of which hail from high schools, as part of its Student Launch Initiative.
The 14 teams will demonstrate their rockets April 15-19 at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The team qualified to submit a rocket proposal for the SLI when they placed 13th out of over 700 teams at the Team America Rocketry Challenge last May in The Plains, Va.
“Iâm really excited to go to Alabama,” Spencer Gordon â10, a member of the Rocketry Club, said. “Iâve never seen any serious rocket launch, so this is going to be really exciting.”
Gordon had attended the Rocketry Challenge last May, when the team successfully launched a rocket over 700 feet into the air.
Gordon said that launch will pale in comparison to the 5,280-foot launch that they hope to manage this time.
The teamâs proposal to NASA, which was written primarily by Ian Cinnamon â10, was one of 14 proposals chosen out of 21 submitted.
Cinnamon said that there is a chance that NASA will actually make use of the best rocket it sees at Huntsville.
“I am thrilled to get this opportunity,” Cinnamon said.Â “How many high school students can say they are a government contractor?”
Cinnamonâs teammate Brett Thompon â10 was amazed at their opportunity at well.
“It blows my mind, the fact that weâre being contracted by NASA,” Thompson said. “Itâs amazing how far we can go if we just put some effort into what weâre doing.”
For some members of the Rocketry Club, having their proposal chosen was no surprise. Gordon said that he was especially confident in Cinnamonâs abilities.
“Ian is way ahead of the game on this,” Gordon said.
Brendan Kutler â10, also a member of the team, expressed a similar sentiment.
“Ian does all the planning,” Kutler said. “We help him with the rocket, but he makes everything work.”
Cinnamon said that the team will meet on Sundays over the next few months to build their rocket, design a team website and prepare the rocketâs scientific payload.
The payload will be a sample of live, but harmless, bacteria, an idea proposed by Richard Liu â10. According to Cinnamonâs proposal, one goal of the launch in Huntsville will be to determine the effect of high altitude and fast acceleration on the bacteriaâs rate of growth.
This will be attempted using small light-emitting diodes and wireless cameras built in to the rocket, which will record and send images of the bacteria during the rocketâs flight.
Gordon said that other teams were experimenting with different kinds of payloads.
In addition to NASAâs funding, Cinnamonâs proposal calls for $5,000 in school funds, at least part of which he expects the math and science departments will provide, and $3,100 in sponsorships, which he said the team hopes to obtain from local businesses.
The Rocketry Club was founded last year as a small endeavor, and has gradually expanded.
Eric Arzoian â09 joined the team in its inaugural year and was surprised to be honored by NASA.
“Truthfully, I havenât even really processed it yet,” he said. “Iâve learned a lot, and I didnât expect it to be as fun and rewarding as it is.”