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Denzil Burnam is the Rocket Man
June 1, 2011

[image-62][image-78] Denzil Burnam has worked at the NASA White Sands Test Facility as a Safety Engineer since 1994, but it is his personal interest as a rocket hobbyist that intersects with both work and play. Since 1994, Denzil has participated in the Science Advisors (SciAd) educational outreach program, designing, building, and launching thousands of air propelled and chemical propelled rockets for Las Cruces Public Schools students, while keeping the site where he works safe.

Recently at University Hills Elementary School, Denzil helped students with their water rockets. Water rockets are made using an empty and clean 2-liter soft drink plastic bottle, with fins and shrouds made from file folder cardstock taped to the bottle. The bottle rocket is then filled with 500 ml of water and air at 60 psi, using an air compressor.

In addition to working as a range safety officer launching 700 student built chemical rockets at the Apollo 14th Fortieth Anniversary Commemoration event held on campus at NMSU, Denzil has helped students launch rockets at many of the Las Cruces Public Schools, all three X-Prize competitions, NAR National Sport Launch 2010, as well as other school districts across the state.

In addition to his expertise at rocket launches and range safety, Denzil has successfully organized the launches of thousands of rockets, where he had to adhere not only to the safety aspects of the launch, but also to time constraints. "For the X-Prize Cup launches the question was: How are we going to launch all these rockets in 6 hours?" Denzil quips. With planning and the help of others, they did it in just over 4 hours. Denzil attributes his successes to other volunteers also helping the public schools.

 

Cheerie R. Patneaude
NASA JSC White Sands Test Facility

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Denzil Burnam discusses water bottle rockets as students prepare to launch.
Denzil Burnam discusses water bottle rockets as students prepare to launch.
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At the 2006 X-Prize Cup held in Las Cruces, Denzil helped 1200 students launch their chemical rockets.
At the 2006 X-Prize Cup held in Las Cruces, Denzil helped 1200 students launch their chemical rockets.
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Page Last Updated: September 24th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator