News Releases

Blind Students Exploring Rocketry With NASA
08.12.04
Keith Koehler
NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Va.
Telephone: 757-824-1579
Email: Keith.A.Koehler@nasa.gov

Linda McCarty
National Federation of the Blind, Md.
Telephone: 410-659-9314
Email: lmccarty@nfb.org

Release No: 04-17

NASA is partnering with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to provide 12 blind high school students a unique exploration experience during a rocket science camp August 15 through 21. The program, called Rocket On!, is an inaugural project of the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore.

During the week, NASA engineers and instructors with the NFB Jernigan Institute will present workshops at the Institute on the history of rocketry, basic rocket physics, and basic electronics.

In addition, the students will learn basic rocket trajectory planning, build electronic circuits for the sensors they will fly, and practice pad operations for the rocket they will launch August 19 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

Al Diaz, Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said, "NASA's partnership with the Federation of the Blind is providing students a unique opportunity to learn about rocketry. This camp is showing all students, regardless of their physical abilities, that they can be part of the nation's Vision for Space Exploration."

"We look forward to the possibility that one day these students will join NASA as scientists and engineers," Diaz said.

"What we are doing at the National Federation of Blind Jernigan Institute is revolutionary," said Mark Riccobono, manager of education programs for the Jernigan Institute. "For the first time, we are bringing together blind students, blind teachers and NASA scientists and engineers, blind and sighted, to develop the tools and techniques that will get more blind kids excited about science."

While at Wallops on August 18, the students will participate in a launch review with NASA personnel, integrate their experiments with NASA support systems, and conduct a practice countdown.

Reporting for duty at 4 a.m., August 19, the students will begin the countdown procedures towards a 6 a.m. launch of the ten and a half foot rocket. The launch window is 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. The backup launch day is August 20.

Through audible signals, the students will be able to determine the readiness of their experiments and the rocket. The student-built electrical circuits will allow them to measure light, temperature, acceleration and pressure during the rocket's flight, which is estimated to reach 6,000 feet.

Later that afternoon back at the Jernigan Institute, the students will begin analyzing the data collected from the four sensors during the flight. They will present their preliminary results during presentations on August 20 at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The launch will be web cast live on the internet beginning at 5:15 a.m. at:
http://www.wff.nasa.gov/webcast

For more information on NASA education programs, visit the internet at:
http://education.nasa.gov