As tragedy shakes and rattles the nation's grip on space exploration, a few students remain motivated to reach the thin air of the outer atmosphere.
In fact, their very mission is based on sending and safely returning two passengers. The passengers this team will send up, however, are not astronauts, but something that could only be named "Eggronauts."
Matthew Logering has found a sound connection with rocketry.
"My dad and uncle inspired me to get into rocketry," he said.
Ever since he found his niche, he's been building and launching models of all sorts. This is exactly why Alan Cibuzar, with AW Research Laboratories, Inc. in Brainerd, chose to call up the three-time county and single-time State Fair rocketry champion to inform him of a nationwide rocketry contest. AWRL offered to sponsor a team Logering would select while initiating help from Tracy Kennedy, Dennis Borgsworth and David Ahlers.
The competition, "Team America Rocketry Challenge," is sponsored by The National Association of Rocketry and Aerospace Industries Association. Each team will face the same problem, and within certain specified regulations each team will design and launch its rocket to meet the problem.
This year's problem is to send two eggs, not hardboiled, to an altitude of 1,500 feet, and return the eggs safely to the ground within the rocket. Design is limited to the team, as long as it meets the March 9 deadline.
Once Logering got the call, the assembling of the team commenced. A team of four members expanded suddenly to a team of nine: Logering, Eric Blum, Shawn Rakowski, Dusten Olejnicak, Jake Jorgenson, Anthony Mehr, Charles Eisler, Brandon Asker and me, Peter van der Hagen.
We gathered to form something that closely resembled a crew straight out of "October Skies." Jobs such as finance, public relations, Web site design and management positions were assigned. Although there are many specific tasks and divisions in the work, all workers collaborate on the building of the rocket.
Despite minor setbacks, our team is making giant advances. There was a slight problem with receiving the necessary parts, which arrived late. Recovery capsule design for the eggs proved a difficult task as well, as the team's plan was to have the design return the eggs from a 40-foot drop. Many eggs were lost in the rigorous tests.
"I think our biggest concern is reaching our deadlines, as well as making it to the 1,500 mark," said Logering.
The weight necessary to harbor two eggs, their recovery system and a double staged engine system poses potential problems for getting to the desired 1,500 feet goal. Yet, beyond assumptions, our team remains confident as it intends to make many test flights to record achievements and modify if necessary.
The team has worked week in and week out. Many nights a week are spent with sandpaper and hot glue guns. People can follow the team's progress at our official Web site, http://www.angelfire.com/theforce/rocketteam/
We are currently looking for an official name for the team, and anyone may vote at the site. We would like to thank Alan Cibuzar, Sara Ostrowski, LaRae Fischer and Melanie Peterson with AWRL for making the team possible.
Finally, as a fledgling high school crew is in charge of the effort, we are in need of sponsors to get our team to its financial feet. If you would like to sponsor our team, be sure to check details on sponsorship and contact us through our Web site.
Until then, as the lure of a star's glow remains bright, our chase to catch that star remains obstinate.
(Peter van der Hagen is a senior at Brainerd High School.)
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