Damien's rocketry team invited to prestigious rocket challenge

Seven Damien Memorial School students are headed to the Team America Rocket Challenge in Virginia on May 10 after a successful launch in very windy conditions at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the morning of March 30. With only one day left to qualify, the rookie rocketeers needed to meet the national standards of launching their 30-inch rocket, powered by an Aerotech Reloadable F39-5 motor, 825 feet into the sky and bringing down a payload of two eggs intact within 48 to 50 seconds. They came closest to the standards on the last of three launches, reaching 828 feet and bringing down the payload in 47.9 seconds. Jacob Hudson, PhD, the Damien teacher who advises the Monarchs rocketry team, said the altitude and time were good enough for Damien to have a "60-40 chance to be invited to the elite national rocket contest. On Friday, April 4, they got official word that they have been invited. Damien is the first Hawaii team in 7 years to be invited to the TARC. Damien is at a distinct disadvantage in competition compared with mainland school teams because they have much fewer launch opportunities and locations due to Oahu's tight air space. The team has been able to launch only nine times in four trips to the Marine base since December. No one thought the Damien team was going anywhere when, on Dec. 8, their first launch exploded in midair. The rocket, launched and recovered at the Marine base's West Field on March 30, accelerated from 0 to 190 mph in 2 seconds at launch.

Author Patrick Bigold
Duration 101 seconds

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