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Students Rocketing into History
March 26, 2007
Students check out the Icarus rocket on the launch rail.

Icarus, a rocket developed by students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Fla., was successfully launched at 6:15 a.m., March 22, from the Wallops Flight Facility.

The students travelled 800 miles over their spring break in an attempt to make history. Launching from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., Icarus was projected to reach an altitude of 40 miles. Preliminary indications showed that both the first and second stages of the 16-foot tall rocket performed as planned. Analysis is now underway to determine if the rocket reached the projected 40-mile altitude and a record for a university built vehicle.

“The Embry-Riddle student designed rocket was the most complex student project we have supported to date,” said Phil Eberspeaker, chief of NASA’s Sounding Rockets Program Office. “NASA subjects these student rockets to the same scrutiny as a NASA sounding rocket to ensure the flight can be conducted in a safe manner.”

The 15-pound payload on the rocket contained accelerometers, spin sensors and pressure sensors. In addition, the students used global positioning satellite (GPS) systems to determine the location of the rocket during flight.

Project Icarus was founded in the fall of 2003 by the Embry- Riddle Future Space Explorers’ and Developers’ Society. Icarus is the society’s flagship vehicle. The purpose of the mission is to combine classroom knowledge with hands-on experience in rocketry and engineering.

“The Embry-Riddle students showed a lot of professionalism in the development of their student rocket. That professionalism, mixed with 80% rocket science and a little bit of luck, lead to a safe and successful flight,” Eberspeaker said.

The Embry Riddle project is one several university student design activities being supported by the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. These projects develop critical skills and capabilities needed to support science research and the Vision for Space Exploration.