The NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia is busy this week with yet another launch planned: this time, the payload is from students participating in the RockOn! and RockStat-C programs. During Rocket Week which runs through June 23, more than 100 university and community college students and instructors and high school educators are participating in activities at the facility. The Rocket Week ends with the students launching their experiments on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket at 6 a.m. EDT on June 22. The rocket is 36 feet long and the payload weighs 667 pounds. This launch isn’t to be confused with another rocket NASA Wallops is attempting to launch this week to help study aurora.
Nearly 130 university and community college students and instructors from across the country will build and fly experiments on a NASA suborbital rocket through the RockOn! and RockSat-C programs. Another 20 high school educators from across the United States will examine how to apply rocketry basics into their curriculum through the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers (WRATs). WRATS works with high school teachers to show them the basics of rocketry and how to take what they learn into the classroom. The 20 participants from Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Kentucky, Tennessee, Delaware, and Oklahoma will receive instruction on the basics of rocketry including Newton’s Laws, fundamentals of electronics, drag and propulsion. This instruction will be applied to hands-on learning activities including building and launching model rockets.
The rocket will carry 23 experiments (measuring acceleration, humidity, pressure, temperature and radiation counts) from the RockOn! program, nine experiments from the RockSat-C program and more than 80 small cubes with experiments developed by middle school students in 49 states as part of the Cubes in Space program, a partnership between idoodlelearning inc. and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. After flying to nearly 73 miles high in the sky, the payload will land via a parachute in the Atlantic Ocean where it will be recovered by boat. The participants should have their experiments returned to them later in the day to begin their data analysis.
For this student launch, the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 5am on launch day for viewing the flight. Live coverage of the mission is scheduled to begin at 5:30 a.m. on the Wallops Ustream site. This is a relatively small rocket with a small launch viewing area; people along the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland The rocket launch is expected to be seen from the eastern shore of Virginia and Maryland.
In a release from NASA Wallops, Joyce Winterton, Wallops senior advisor for education and leadership development, said, “We look forward each year to Rocket Week and the students and educators who come to Wallops with an enthusiasm to learn the skills to advance their careers and instruction to advance those of younger students.”
The RockOn!, RockSat and WRATS programs are supported by the NASA Sounding Rocket Program. RockOn! also is supported by NASA’s Office of Education and NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia, as well as the program participants.
NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program is conducted at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility which is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. Orbital ATK provides mission planning, engineering services and field operations for the NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract. NASA’s Heliophysics Division manages the sounding rocket program for the agency.