MINSTER — A group of Minster Rocket Club students are now working for NASA as one of 21 teams chosen to participate in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative.
The students qualified for the honor after placing 12th at the Team America Rocketry Challenge in the spring. NASA’s Student Launch Initiative “challenges middle and high school students to design, build and launch a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level,” according to NASA’s website.
In August, the students had to put together a proposal for NASA in hopes of being chosen for a contract.
“We basically had a week to get this 80-page document together and send off that proposal to NASA,” Minster Rocket Club Advisor Ted Oldiges told The Evening Leader. “It involved everything under the sun that we have to do. It’s amazing that we got it done.”
The team was notified that its proposal had been selected for the Student Launch Initiative in September. Being selected means the students are working for NASA.
“We are now subcontractors for NASA,” Oldiges said. “We are working for NASA, building them a rocket.”
The proposal called for the team to build a rocket that will travel one mile high and will also conduct a scientific experiment during the launch, measuring the cellular growth of microbial yeast organisms in micro gravity.
“We’re building a 10-foot rocket that has to go to exactly 5,280 feet into the sky, which is one mile,” Oldiges said. “It has to also carry a scientific payload, so on board, we’re going to be conducting a scientific experiment while the rocket is actually going up and experiencing hyper-gravity.”
The rocket will be transmitting live data.
“There’s lots of electronics involved, there’s an amazing amount of work that has to go into this rocket,” Oldiges said.
To prepare for the launch, which will be held in Huntsville, Ala., next spring, the students will be working on the design of the rocket, the payload, the recovery, safety, educational outreach, media presence and managing the budget, among other tasks.
“Our team is not only building a rocket, they’re doing everything it takes to actually do a program for rocketry,” Oldiges said. “It’s not just building the rocket, it’s the whole entire process.”
The students are working in teams to accomplish their goal.
“We have different teams set up and each person has their own job on what contributions that they want to make to the overall team,” he said. “We have teams right now that are working on getting the educational part ready, we have another individual that’s doing the website.”
The rocket must first be designed.
“Before any rocket ever is flown, it has to be designed in CAD, which is computer aided drafting,” Oldiges said. “For this kind of rocket, every piece has to be created on the computer first, so we’ve got people that are designing all the pieces and they’re putting it together on the computer. We’re doing test simulations and we’re doing product failure.”
The payload team is also challenged, he added.
“How is the scientific experiment actually going to take place, how is it going to interact with the rest of the electronics,” Oldiges said of what the payload team is working on. “We have to have GPS on there. We have to have all these subsystems, and all these subsystems have to work together to make the rocket.”
In addition to their work on the rocket and objectives in the proposal, Minster Rocket Club members have also been working to raise money, as Oldiges estimated it will cost approximately $20,000 for the club to send members to the Student Launch Initiative and to the Team America Rocketry Challenge.
“We’re doing lots and lots of fundraising to try to earn money to help get our way down there,” he said. “We’ve spent 21 days this summer doing concessions at the Mercer County Fair, the Auglaize County Fair, the Minster Oktoberfest, the Lake Loramie Fall Festival. These kids have worked extremely hard trying to earn money. We had a concession booth that we had at all those events, we’re doing a Christmas poinsettia sale, we’re raffling off a Dayton Dragons luxury box suite and we’ve got a couple other things in the works.”
Oldiges said the students are dedicated, noting some have decided not to try out for sports teams this year to focus on the Minster Rocket Club, and they are learning through every step of the process.
“The kids are really, really excited, and it’s very much an amazing feat that we’ve made it to this,” he said. “I’m very proud of them.”
Members of the Minster Rocket Club include Allison Grieshop, Bryden Mathis, Dan Becker, Jordan Berelsman, Morgan Kuether, Aaron Kitzmiller, Ali Borgerding, Bella Shurelds, Britenee Stevens, Dezy Miller, Dylan Byers, Hailey Oldiges, Jordan Brackman, Jordan Nolan, Macey Elder, Natalie Oakley, Sarah Huwer, Seth Harmeyer, Austin Dwenger, Brooke Monnin, Dane Dahlinghaus, Hannah Kuether, Isaac Gibson, Jessica Berelsman, Kyle Heitkamp, Pierce McGowan, Reid Frick, Ryan Brown, Tennell Mathis, Trent Carlon, Sam Bornhorst, Blake Mallory, Carlin Elder, Danielle Monnin and Nathan Riethman.
For more information, visit MinsterRocketClub.com.