University Experimenters Sought for Suborbital Rocket Programs
A Terrier-Orion sounding rocket launches

A NASA Terrier-Orion sounding rocket leaves the launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility on June 24 carrying RockOn! and RockSat-C experiments. Image Credit: NASA
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Have you ever wanted to fly an experiment in space but weren't quite sure how to go about it? Have you already built rocket experiments, but you want to go to the next level of complexity?

NASA, in partnership with the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, is offering the opportunity for university instructors and students to participate in three programs for the novice to the more experienced space researcher.

For the beginner, RockOn! offers the opportunity to learn the basics of developing experiments for rocket flight. During the weeklong workshop June 18-23, 2011, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, participants will build payloads to measure temperature, pressure, counts of radiation and acceleration.

In addition, participants will write the software to control the payload and take part in the integration of the payload with the rocket system. On the fifth day, participants get to see their efforts soar into space on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket to nearly 75 miles altitude.

RockOn! also is supported by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.

The next step up in complexity is RockSat-C. The program uses a standard canister that provides a simple interface between the payload and the rocket structure. In the program, university teams compete for a spot on the launch vehicle through a series of design reviews as they develop their payload. Since the program began in 2009, 20 student-designed university payloads have flown.

A girl looks closely at a circuit board

A participant in RockOn! 2010 works on the circuitry board during the hands-on workshop. Participants learn how to build and program experiments for spaceflight in four days as part of the workshop. Image Credit: NASA
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The payloads will fly in conjunction with the RockOn! payloads on the Terrier-Improved Orion from Wallops on June 23. Teams will support the final integration the same week as RockOn! and attend the launch.

The next level, RockSat-X, pushes the RockSat-C concept to new extremes by providing participants with full access to the space environment, more in-flight resources and less restrictive design space. Deployable items are even allowed.

In addition, payloads will be provided power and a live telemetry feed for real-time data acquisition during the flight. These amenities allow experimenters to focus more on the science and leave power and data handling to the Wallops rocket team.

Interested teams also will follow a competitive design review process and final selections will be made in January 2011. Teams will travel to Wallops in June for environmental testing of their payload. Participants will then have one month to resolve issues and return to Wallops in August to launch their payloads to an estimated 100-mile apogee, also using a Terrier-Improved Orion rocket.

In all three programs, recovery of the payloads from the Atlantic Ocean is planned shortly after splashdown. After a successful recovery, experimenters will have their payloads in-hand before the end of launch day.

A group of students look up toward the sky

THERE SHE GOES! Participants watch their experiments fly into space on a NASA Terrier-Orion sounding rocket as part of the RockOn! and RockSat-C projects in 2010. Image Credit: NASA
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NASA initiated the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in 1989. The Space Grant national network includes more than 850 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, science centers, and state and local agencies. The goal is to support and enhance science and engineering education, and research and public outreach efforts for NASA’s aeronautics and space projects. These affiliates belong to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

More information on the programs, including how to apply, schedules, technical details and costs, can be found on the Internet at:

> http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/rockon   →
> http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/rocksatc   →
> http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/rocksatx   →

For more information about NASA education programs visit: www.nasa.gov/education

Keith Koehler : NASA Wallops Flight Facility Public Affairs Office