Cedar Falls Rocket Club Project Accepted By NASA Student Launch | Education News


CEDAR FALLS – A group of students from Cedar Falls High School are working on building a rocket that will take off next spring at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

But since NASA Student Launch accepted the rocket club project in early October, it has changed course.

This was prompted by the organizers of the student launch as the Cedar Falls Rocket Club presented its plans during the preliminary design review, a first phase of the project. The students designed three legs that would be attached to the 8-1 / 2-foot rocket and deploy upon landing after it flew about a mile in the sky.

“NASA had looked at our design,” said Jackson Plummer, focusing on the landing gear. “They were just worried about the stability.”

“It was really about safety,” added Jefferson Roberts, senior. If a leg came loose in mid-flight, it could change the direction of the rocket and endanger people on the ground.

“It was hard. We argued for about an hour after school, ”Plummer said.

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Eventually, the club members agreed not to use the legs. “It might not be accepted,” Plummer said. “We decided it was important to go with the safest payload.”

Instead, they will focus their project on filming the flight.

“We have three GoPro cameras in this payload,” Plummer said. These will be secured in the rocket in a 3D printed plastic container behind acrylic windows created using CNC machining.

Also, “we have a printed circuit board that we built into the rocket,” said junior Sean Radke.

High school teacher counselor Zeb Nicholson said the cameras would simultaneously record three views of the rocket. The circuit board will collect data on movements during the flight.

“All we do is collect the video,” he explained. “The goal is for these three videos to come together in a virtual headset.” Users would also see motion data – expressed in numbers – on the headset display.

A total of 22 students are at the club this year, up from eight last year. The numbers rose after a competition in the spring that qualified the club for the student launch.

Students in the upper class – seniors and a few juniors – are working on the NASA project. The sophomores and some juniors are preparing for another competition, The American Rocketry Challenge. Students in this competition design and build a smaller rocket and all have the payload of a raw egg, which must survive flight.

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NASA’s student launch takes place April 23 in Huntsville, Alabama. The other competition, known as TARC, takes place on May 14 in Washington, DC Typically the club will only host one competition at a time, but the larger number of participants made both possible.

The size of the club – and the fact that sophomores and this year’s juniors could continue to participate next year – made it easier for participants in the NASA competition to change their plans. The new approach makes their success more likely, which could increase opportunities for the club in the years to come.

“When I joined the club in my sophomore year, I didn’t know anything about rockets,” said Roberts, noting he learned by doing the job. As a result, “it was better for the club if we only focused on teaching the younger ones so that they can be successful in the future.”

“We’ve done a quarter of the entire project,” Nicholson said of each rocket-building effort. Design work continues on the rocket for TARC. On Tuesday, the NASA competition students were working on a scale model, which is half the size of the rocket they will fly in Alabama.

This model rocket will launch later this month on the football fields of the University of Northern Iowa. If this flight does not raise any issues with the design, the students will begin to build the rocket on a large scale.

Club members raise up to $ 15,000 for equipment and travel related to competitions. Check out their website at cfhsrocketclub.com and their page at Facebook.com for instructions on how to donate. Find the Facebook page by searching for “CFHS Rocket Club”.


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