AKRON, Ohio — The NASA Launch Team of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron placed second in the 2022 NASA National Student Launch Competition, one of seven Artemis Student challenges, according to a news release from the school.
St. Vincent-St. Mary took home two awards — second place in the Altitude Award, which is given to the team that comes closest to the declared target altitude on the competition launch, and third place for the Judge’s Choice Award, which is given to the team with the best combination of payload innovation, vehicle design, construction and public engagement.
The 9-month challenge, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is designed to provide students with a realistic experience to follow the engineering design process NASA and industry engineers use when developing new hardware used in space missions.
The St. Vincent-St. Mary team was comprised of 15 students total, five seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen. The student-led team was required to design, build, test and fly a payload and high-powered amateur rocket to an altitude between 3,500 and 5,500 feet. Throughout the process of developing the rocket, the teams had to meet multiple documentation and presentation milestones with NASA experts.
STVM completed in the college/university division, where they tackled a new task that resembles NASA’s real-life mission, like Mars Curiosity Rover. They designed a payload capable of locating where their rocket landed by identifying the rocket’s grid position on an aerial image of the launch site while transmitting the data back to their ground station. This task, accomplished without the use a GPS, simulates a challenge faced by NASA mission managers—communications with spacecraft and payloads on distant planetary bodies.
“I could not be prouder of this group of dedicated students and faculty mentors for all of the time, effort and energy they have devoted to this incredible program,” said STVM Principal Kimberlee Gorr in a news release. “One of the best opportunities the STVM NASA Student Launch Team provides is that the team is composed of students in ninth through twelfth grade. This means that as seniors graduate out of the program, underclassmen are ready to rise to become leaders in subsequent years. We have students that have participated during all four years of their high school career and others that have been a part of the team for only one or two years. The amazing thing about this is that they all contribute to the success of the team. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”
Maybe one day they'll work right here at home, where engineers at the NASA Glenn Research Center tested the Moon rover for the upcoming VIPER Mission.
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