Feature

Student Rocket Takes Flight
07.22.04
Photograph of the University of Cincinnati Pathfinder rocket during launch
They designed, calculated, built, tested, and analyzed.

On July 17, 2004, students from Ohio and Wyoming saw the moment of truth for all their efforts when their rocket successfully lifted off the launch pad at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

Image to right: Students from Ohio and Wyoming got to experience first hand what it is like to watch a rocket they had designed lift off of a launch pad. Credit: NASA

The University of Cincinnati Pathfinder rocket was 8 inches in diameter and about 19 feet in length. Through the project, students are gaining hands-on experience in every aspect of engineering and launching a rocket.

Roger Rovekamp, Pathfinder project lead and project manager of the Cincinnati team, said, "I learned how to manage a project with minimal funding, varying levels of commitment and strict design requirements, as well as how to design, build, test and launch a high powered sounding rocket."

Rovekamp graduated in May 2003 from the University of Cincinnati and is now a project engineer with Lockheed Martin Space Operations, Houston. He said, "My position with Lockheed requires effective communication and team coordination skills, as well as project management skills. This project has certainly improved those skills beyond anything the classroom could have given me."

Students from the University of Cincinnati designed and built the payload. They worked in conjunction with Casper College, Natrona County School District and Wickman Propulsion and Space, all in Wyoming, in the design and fabrication of the motor.

NASA supported the project through the Sounding Rocket Program's Student Rocket Flight Demonstration Initiative. The initiative is designed to give universities the opportunity to fly student designed rockets in a safe and controlled environment. NASA provided design consultation, launch range and safety support.

For more information visit the Sounding Rocket Program Office Web site.
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