|UND rocket lifts off; students in running for award|
“Three … two … one …” was followed by smoke, fire and then liftoff. It was like watching a fireworks display on steroids as students from the University of North Dakota and eight other colleges from around the country gathered in a recently planted cornfield outside of Huntsville, Ala., to launch their high-powered rockets into a clear, albeit windy, northern Alabama sky April 19.
Now, the team is in the running for the University Student Launch Initiative event, sponsored by ATK Launch Systems and hosted by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The mission was to design, build and fly student rockets to an altitude of one mile and return safely to the ground.
The grand prize winner was announced May 26, after the scientific data collected from the student-built payloads was reviewed by a NASA panel. The grand prize includes $5,000 and the opportunity, courtesy of Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and NASA, to see a Space Shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
UND’s team built their rocket and payload throughout the school year. Tasks included design work, reviews, test flights and meticulous documentation. Each competing team will be judged by panels of scientists and engineers comprised of NASA and its partners.
UND junior and Minot native Lindsay Anderson says, “It’s been such a ride – we launched our rocket and it worked, I’m already excited for next year.”
Tim Young, UND associate professor in physics and advisor to the rocket team, said, “We were a rookie team down there in Huntsville. There was a lot of good science and well-built rockets that we were competing against. Even if we don't win this May 26 decision, the experience that we had in Huntsville was exhilarating and we are definitely putting together a new team for the 2008-2009 USLI competition." Dr. Young will recruit members in August for the rocket team.
The UND rocket team was funded by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium, provost’s office, and EERC.