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For release: 05/10/04
Release #: 04-134  

NASA Student Launch Initiative
Rockets soar for student teams participating in hands-on initiative sponsored by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Photo description: Student team members from Athens Bible School in Athens, Ala., get ready to launch their rocket at NASA's Student Launch Initiative.

Ten high school and college teams from four states proved they have the right stuff to design and build reusable rockets in NASA's Student Launch Initiative, a hands-on educational program sponsored by the Marshall Center. When the smoke cleared, five student teams walked away with top honors in the annual event.

Photo: Student team members from Athens Bible School in Athens, Ala., get ready to launch their rocket at NASA's Student Launch Initiative. (NASA/MSFC/Vince Huegele)

Five student teams grabbed top honors in NASA's 2004 Student Launch Initiative May 1, with winners hailing from Alabama, Indiana, Maryland and New York, Saturday's launch was the finale to a year-long mission by students to design and build reusable rockets as part of a hands-on educational program sponsored by NASA's Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Ala.

More than 50 high school and college students and their teachers participated in this year's event. Cheered on by hundreds of rocketeers from across the country, 10 student teams launched their rockets in Manchester, Tenn., at "Southern Thunder 2004" — one of the largest regional rocket events in the United States,

The Student Launch Initiative allows high school and college students to experience practical aerospace and engineering activities. Working in teams, students demonstrate proof-of-concept for their designs, develop Web sites dedicated to their work, learn how to budget — including how to present financial proposals to NASA engineers and community leaders — and gain problem-solving skills.

At the launch, student teams demonstrated to NASA engineers and scientists that their rocket designs were capable of being launched, recovered and reused. The payloads or cargo carried on the rockets also had to be recovered intact, according to the rules. The target altitude for the high school teams was one-mile high, while the college teams aimed for two-miles high. Teams also were evaluated on formal reviews and Web designs.

The student team from Goshen High School in Goshen, Ind., took home three of the seven Student Launch Initiative awards — Best Payload Design, Best Web Site Design and the Altitude Award.

Manlius Pebble Hill School in Dewitt, N.Y., won Best Vehicle Design. Boonsboro High School in Boonsboro, Md., took home the Best Overall Student Launch Initiative Fair Presentation award. From Alabama, the Lee High School student team in Huntsville took home honors for Best Overall Flight Readiness Review, and Athens Bible School in Athens won the Director's Award, which recognizes the team that exemplifies outstanding teamwork and initiative in advancing their appreciation for science, math and engineering during the design and building process.

Other high schools participating in the 2004 Student Launch activities included Johnson High School and New Century Technology High School in Huntsville, and Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala. College teams included Alabama A&M University in Huntsville and the University of Alabama in Huntsville,

"Southern Thunder 2004" was co-hosted by the Music City Missile Club in Nashville, Tenn., the Huntsville Area Rocketry Association, and the Smokey Mountain Amateur Rocketry Team in Knoxville, Tenn.

For more information about NASA's Student Launch Initiative on the internet, please visit:

For more information:
News release

Martin Jensen
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

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