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Sat, May 31, 2008

Utah State University Rocketeers Win NASA Competition

Awarded Top Prize In University Student Launch Initiative

A team of enterprising student rocketeers from Utah State University in Logan has won the 2007-2008 University Student Launch Initiative, according to event organizers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.

The annual competition, sponsored by ATK Launch Systems of Brigham City, UT and Huntsville, challenges college and university teams to design and build reusable rockets that can carry working science payloads 1 mile high and return them safely to Earth. Their work culminates each spring in a day-long launch event that draws hundreds of spectators to the Tennessee Valley. Competition judges - NASA engineers and scientists -- then evaluate each team's rocket design, its flight data and its final written report on payload results and overall experience.

As the top winner, the Utah State University team will receive $5,000 from ATK Launch Systems and an invitation from NASA to attend a space shuttle launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL.

The rocketry challenge was conceived in 2006 as a sister event to the Student Launch Initiative for middle school and high school students. Both are organized by the Marshall Center's Academic Affairs Office, part of Marshall's Office of Human Capital. The goal of the events: to give participating students a unique opportunity to gain practical experience and hone future career skills.

"These students are seeing practical applications for the whole spectrum of their math, science and technical classroom work," said Tammy Rowan, manager of Marshall's Academic Affairs Office. "They're managing complex science and technology research and conducting aerospace and engineering projects from drawing board to launch pad. They get to be mechanical engineers, rocket scientists and theoretical researchers all at the same time."

"I'd like to congratulate all the teams that participated in this year's rocketry challenge," said Mike Rudolphi, vice president of ATK Launch Systems Site Operations and Integration in Huntsville. "These students are without a doubt America's next generation of rocket scientists. I applaud each team for its efforts."

The Utah State University team, which edged out runner-up rocketeers from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla, was honored in April with three awards at a post-launch banquet: "Best Payload Design," for its innovative ballistic control system; "Best Project Review," for its thorough work in preparing and delivering all written and oral flight-readiness presentations; and "Best Team Spirit." 

Other teams that participated in the 2007-2008 challenge include students from Auburn University in Auburn, AL; the University of Alabama in Huntsville; Harding University in Searcy, AR; Fisk University in Nashville, TN; Vanderbilt University in Nashville; and the College of Menominee Nation in Green Bay, WI.

FMI: http://education.msfc.nasa.gov/usli

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