“Five, four, three, two, one, launch!” — will be the refrain heard repeatedly at the Lonesome Pine Regional Spaceport (airport) as some thirty to forty Wise County, Va. high school students and dozens of onlookers participate in space technology at 9 AM, Saturday, Nov. 20, with the launching some fifty to sixty zippy rockets skyward in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.
Wise County, Virginia Public Schools has collaborated with the Valley AeroSpace Team (VAST), the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council, the Napoleon Hill Foundation and others to encourage students to gain applied-learning knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The students will test their aptitude for teamwork, design and hand-on construction of amateur model rockets complete with solid rocket propulsion motors and parachute recovery systems.
Each rocket should soar some eight hundred to one thousand feet into the low earth atmosphere, but not high enough to require a Federal Aviation Administration waiver, after launching skyward in the demonstration rocketry program. Organizers hope local students will be motivated and want to endeavor to establish an aerospace rocketry club to complete in regional and national rocketry challenges with other student teams from outside the area.
The would-be rocketeers will determine if they have the ‘right stuff’ to collaborate, team build, design, construct, launch, operate a rocket range safely, recover the rocket and payload without damage, and turn the small rockets around rapidly to fly again. If the first stage of the program is successful, the students will come together again to undertake challenges that are more difficult and add others to the fledgling high school-level aerospace teams. One rocket challenge will be to carry an egg payload over one thousand feet and bring it safely back to Earth, eggshell intact, and certainly not scrambled.
The privately funded $2,500 program will expose students to area teachers who have flown in zero gravity last year to hear of their experience in actual spaceflight training similar to that of professional astronauts. Each student will have copies of Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success book to grasp the requirements to conduct successful team projects along with how to make productive life choices. The students will learn about how rockets boost satellites to orbit to gather weather, environmental, telecommunications, and science data. These would-be rocket scientists will gain insights as to how scientists gather data for analysis from sounding and orbital rocket launches during the two-day build-to-launch effort.
The Valley AeroSpace Team has organized several student rocket launches in central Virginia enabling hundreds of Virginia students to launch their first model rockets the past few years. The certified Team America Rocketry Challenge instructors are dedicated citizens who believe in providing insight and opportunity for Virginia’s youth. If only the VAST could replicated for every county and city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there study curriculum would add applied learning significance to STEM education. It is no wonder that the Southwestern Virginia Technology Council wanted VAST here to share modern technology with the region’s youth (audio).
The launch observation area at the Lonesome Pine Regional Spaceport will open at 9 AM, Saturday, November 20, 2010. The public may review the rockets, launch systems, and talk with the student builders and their mentors on-site. To gain detailed information on the Team America Rocket Launch Challenge, visit http://www.rocketcontest.org/ on the Web.
See you Saturday Nov. 20, 2010 at the Lonesome Pine Spaceport rocket range in Wise, Virginia!