Fifty-Seven Student Rocket Teams to Take NASA Launch Challenge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- More than 500 students from middle schools, high
schools, colleges and universities in 29 states will show their
rocketeering prowess in the 2011-12 NASA Student Launch Projects
flight challenge. The teams will build and test large-scale rockets
of their own design in April 2012.

NASA created the twin Student Launch Projects to spark students'
imaginations, challenge their problem-solving skills and give them
real-world experience. The project aims to complement the science,
mathematics and engineering lessons they study in the classroom.

"Just as NASA partners with innovative companies such as ATK to pursue
the nation's space exploration mission, these young rocketeers pool
their talent and ingenuity to solve complex engineering problems and
fly sophisticated machines," said Tammy Rowan, manager of Marshall's
Academic Affairs Office.

A record 57 teams of engineering, math and science students will take
part in the annual challenge, organized by NASA's Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Fifteen middle and high school
teams will tackle the non-competitive Student Launch Initiative,
while 42 college and university teams will compete in the University
Student Launch Initiative. The latter features a $5,000 first-place
award provided by ATK Aerospace Systems of Salt Lake City, Utah.

"This competition is extremely important to ATK to mentor and train
our future workforce," said Charlie Precourt, ATK general manager and
vice president of Space Launch Systems. Precourt is a former space
shuttle astronaut who piloted STS-71 in 1995 and commanded STS-84 in
1997 and STS-91 in 1998. "ATK is proud to enter our fifth year as a
partner with NASA on this initiative to engage the next generation.
The competition grows in impact each year."

Each Student Launch Projects team will build a powerful rocket,
complete with a working science or engineering payload, which the
team must design, install and activate during the rocket launch. The
flight goal is to come as close as possible to an altitude of 1 mile,
requiring a precise balance of aerodynamics, mass and propulsive power.

As in classroom studies, participants must "show their work," writing
detailed preliminary and post-launch reports and maintaining a public
website for their rocket-building adventure. Each team also must
develop educational engagement projects for schools and youth
organizations in its community, inspiring the imaginations and career
passions of future explorers.

In April, the teams will converge at Marshall, where NASA engineers
will put the students' creations through the same kind of rigorous
reviews and safety inspections applied to the nation's space launch
vehicles. On April 21, 2012, students will firing their rockets
toward the elusive 1-mile goal, operating onboard payloads and
waiting for chutes to open, signaling a safe return to Earth.

The student teams will vie for a variety of awards for engineering
skill and ingenuity, team spirit and vehicle design. These include
two new prizes: a pair of TDS2000 Series oscilloscopes, which are
sophisticated tools for studying the change in flow of electrical
voltage or current. Donated by Tektronix Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., the
oscilloscopes will be presented to the two school teams that earn the
"Best Payload" and "Best Science Mission Directorate Challenge
Payload" honors.

This year's participants hail from Alabama, Arkansas, California,
Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas,
Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi,
North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and
Wisconsin. For a complete competitor list and more information about
the challenge, visit:




The NASA Student Launch Projects are sponsored collaboratively by
NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Science
Mission Directorate and Office of Education Flight Projects. For more
information about NASA education initiatives, visit:



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