For release: 05/09/02
Release #: 02-119
NASA's Marshall Center to help rocket-building Texas students get their project off the ground
Students at Fredericksburg, Texas, High School are preparing to launch a rocket they designed and built - not a model, but a real rocket - thanks in part to the Marshall Center. Marshall will supply two key elements for the project - a rocket motor fuel grain and nozzle. The launch will be May 14 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
Students at Fredericksburg, Texas, High School are preparing to launch a rocket they designed and built - not a model, but a real rocket - thanks in part to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The students are enrolled in the school's two-year Aeroscience Program, designed to teach engineering, propulsion and aerodynamics to high school students. The highlight of the course is the design, construction and launching of a rocket capable of carrying aloft a 35-pound payload.
In support of the advanced curriculum, the Marshall Center has donated for the project two key elements the students don't have the equipment to build themselves, a rocket motor fuel grain and nozzle.
"We are pleased to team with Fredericksburg High School on this exciting educational project. Their program inspired us to start our own Student Launch Initiative involving local high schools and universities," said Marshall Center Director Art Stephenson. "Actually getting to build and launch rockets is a great way to inspire students to enter the engineering field."
The 425-pound rocket, scheduled for launch May 14 at 10 a.m. (MDT) from the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range, N.M., is called Redbird 9-H. "Red" is one of the school's colors, this is the program's ninth rocket, and "H" stands for the hybrid engine that will propel it. A hybrid engine is one fueled by solid fuel and liquid oxidizer.
The Redbird 9-H is designed to reach altitudes as high as 100,000 feet and carry a test payload for aerospace engineering students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
"Working with Purdue students on the fabrication of the nose cone has helped my students develop strong communication skills as they relay design issues, measurements and tolerances," said Brett Williams, creator of Fredericksburg High's Aeroscience Program. Williams said the upcoming launch is planned to reach an altitude of 80,000 feet to accommodate a microgravity research project - or weightless environment-- conducted by Purdue. The experiment will use microtubules - or very small tubes-- in a fuel tank to see if they will make the rocket fuel burn cleaner.
"The Marshall Center's willingness to partner with us is very important," Williams said. "NASA's support and recognition of the students' efforts encourages them to excel."
Williams said the program's goal is not only to prepare students to excel in college, but also to develop a program to help universities inexpensively reach the edge of space for research by using his student-built sounding rockets. Sounding rockets are used to economically conduct studies and test instruments and devices used on satellites. About 80 percent of Williams' students go on to pursue aerospace engineering degrees.
NASA uses its unique resources, whenever possible, to support educational excellence, since education is a key element in the Agency's overall mission. The space agency participates in educational outreach programs through centers around the country. More information on educational opportunities with the Marshall Center can be found at:
Information about NASA's education program can be found at: