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WKU Rocket Team prepares for NASA student launch competition

WKU Rocket Team prepares for NASA student launch competition

The WKU Rocket Team is ready for lift off at the 2013 NASA Student Launch Projects event in north Alabama.

WKU Rocket Team members Owen Gaulle (left) and Daniel Jones discussed the team's preparations for the April 20 NASA event in Alabama. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

WKU Rocket Team members Owen Gaulle (left) and Daniel Jones discussed the team’s preparations for the April 20 NASA event in Alabama. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

The six members of Vette City Rocketry have spent the past few weeks completing construction of their rocket and testing it for the April 20 competition at Bragg Farms in Toney, Ala.

“We will have launched it several times before then, but it’s the one that counts,” said team leader Daniel Jones, a physics major from Bowling Green.

NASA’s annual event challenges teams to design, test and build large, high-powered rockets, capable of flying to the target altitude of one mile and carrying working, retrievable science or engineering payloads. WKU is one of 36 college and university teams competing in the University Student Launch Initiative.

“We’re happy to be able to go and launch down there,” said Owen Gaulle, a physics major from Nashville, Tenn. “We’d like to do well, but to get to this point is an honor.”

The project requires teams to submit a series of reports and reviews, develop a website, engage in education outreach in their local community, and provide a timeline, a budget and other requirements. The reports and reviews are similar to NASA’s technical review process. As in that process, teams must complete a Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, Flight Readiness Review and Post-Launch Assessment Review. In addition, teams must successfully complete an initial and a final Launch Readiness Review that includes a safety checkout prior to launch in Alabama.

“It’s very rewarding, but it’s a lot of paperwork,” Jones said.

WKU Rocket Team members Owen Gaulle (left) and Daniel Jones assembled sections of the rocket. The team has been building and testing the rocket for the past several months. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

WKU Rocket Team members Owen Gaulle (left) and Daniel Jones assembled sections of the rocket. The team has been building and testing the rocket for the past several months. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

The WKU rocket will carry electronic sensors to measure air pressure, humidity and temperature as well as an altimeter to measure the distance traveled and a parachute to allow the rocket to float to the ground. The nose cone also will carry cameras to record the journey.

The team includes students from physics, engineering and computer science who have brought their own expertise to the project. “It’s been a really unique experience to work with students from other majors,” Jones said.

Other team members are Tim Bucklew, a mechanical engineering major from Bowling Green; Mariel Shumate, a mechanical engineering major from Louisville; Jason Leszczewicz, a physics major from Bowling Green; and James Covetts, a computer science major from Owensboro. More information about the WKU team is available at http://usliwku.com/

About the competition: The University Student Launch Initiative will begin at 9 a.m. (CT) April 20 at Bragg Farms, 1180 Grimwood Road, Toney, Ala. (Rain date is April 21.)

NASA will provide live coverage of the event on UStream, complete with embedded Twitter feed, at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc

The event also includes a Rocket Fair on April 19 at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. More SLP Launch Week information is available at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/737238main_SLP_Brochure_2013.pdf

Follow updates on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NASAStudentLaunch and on Twitter @ATK, @SLI_1MILEHIGH, @NASA_Marshall.

Contact: Daniel Jones, daniel.jones278@topper.wku.edu.

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