Test Flight Rocks

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Clark College’s Aerospace Club successfully flew their full-scale test flight on Saturday, April 19 in Brothers, Ore. This was one of the final steps the group was required to complete before heading to Utah in May to a NASA-sponsored student competition.

“They recovered everything, no mishaps, so they are in good standing for the Salt Lake launch in May,” said faculty advisor Keith Stansbury.

The students have worked furiously to meet the deadlines for the rocket build, as well as file the required documents with NASA. They constructed a custom-made nose fairing consisting of carbon fiber, which separates into two parts during flight. Additionally, they submitted a flight readiness review to NASA competition officials in the early morning hours of April 18 and participated in a video conference with the officials to present the document on April 24.

The rocket is about 7.5 feet tall and 42 pounds. The top orange section is a custom-made carbon fiber piece. This unit will eventually house a camera system.

During the test flight, the rocket flew with an average thrust of about 555 pounds for two seconds. The apogee was just over 7,000 feet – well above the one-mile NASA competition requirement.

Two parachutes that fit snugly inside the rocket were designed and sewn by Clark students on a parent’s sewing machine, according to Taylor Silagy, the student project manager.

A homemade parachute guides the rocket safely back to earth.

A homemade parachute guides the rocket safely back to earth.

Clark students are up against some of the most prestigious four-year institutions in the nation during the May NASA event. Cornell University, Florida A&M University and University of Colorado are just a few of the 26 colleges and universities in 16 states and Puerto Rico that are preparing for the 2013-14 NASA Student Launch rocketry competition at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Clark College, a two-year community college that specializes in transfer degrees for aspiring engineers, scientists and mathematicians, is up against students pursuing doctorates in aerospace engineering. These are some of the brightest young people in America who thrive on design research and are hungry for early recognition in their fields of study.

NASA requires all vehicles to be tested before entering the competition. Fortunately, Clark College has a friend and mentor in Fred Azinger, who is a member of the Oregon Rocketry Club and has the necessary flight waivers from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Students prepare for the pre-flight set-up

Students prepare for the launch in Brothers, Ore.

Student Jessie-Bosdell prepares for the pre-flight launch with his fellow Clark teammates.

Student Jessie-Bosdell prepares for the flight launch with his fellow Clark teammates.

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