But there are rockets!
My son, along with the rest of his Team American Rocketry Challenge (TARC) team has spent the last 7 or so months designing and building a rocket that can launch an egg (nestled sideways in the body of the rocket) 750 feet in the air and return to ground within 45 seconds - without scrambling the egg.
Last weekend was the deadline for completing a qualified launch (one timed and verified by an official). Points are awarded thusly: 1 point for each foot above or below the 750 feet goal and 2 points for every second slower or faster than the 45 second goal. A scrambled egg automatically disqualifies the flight. Obviously, the goal is a number as close to 0 as possible. We spent a day at the Swan Falls launch site of the Tripoli Idaho Rocket Club (members of which launch high powered model rockets – making the kind my kids used to build look downright puny). Pretty scenery as a backdrop for the flights:
My son’s team set their rocket up on one of the launch pads and it failed to take off twice. Turns out it was nothing to do with the rocket – the person who set up the launch pad didn’t connect the pad to the launch controller’s station.
The next launch was successful:
Successful in that it took off and landed without breaking the egg. But something went wrong with the altimeter, which was a special kind that also had some fancy breaking mechanism. So the team then had to revamp its rocket so that it wouldn’t need to employ a breaking mechanism to keep from flying far beyond 750 feet. They got close, but not close enough to ask for a qualifying launch. The next weekend (the last weekend to qualify) the team went out and launched without all of the spectators. After a lot of adjustments, the rocket made 743 feet in 42 seconds, for a score of 24. Hopefully that’ll be good enough! If they’re in the top 100 teams (out of approximately 600), they’ll head to Virginia for the national competition – with the top team from that competition not only winning a large cash prize, but also a trip to Paris for the international competition.
Keep your fingers crossed!