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ULA’s Student Rocket Launch gives flight to payload from Vestavia Hills school

A Vestavia Hills school had a payload it provided fly more than 4,000 feet in the air as part of the Student Rocket Launch in Pueblo, Colorado.

The Student Rocket Launch is a program created by Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Ball Aerospace. It is designed to give students exposure to STEM education by providing them with hands-on experience working with rockets and payloads.

The 19-foot-tall rockets were built by ULA interns and carried payloads supplied by K-12 students.

Vestavia Hills Elementary Dolly Ridge joined schools from seven different states in supplying the payloads. Teams were chosen on the basis of proposals submitted earlier in the year. Payloads included experiments about the effects of gravity, astronaut art packs, airbag deployment systems, landers to gather soil and ground rovers.

Tory Bruno, president and CEO of ULA, hopes Saturday’s launches will have a lasting impact on its participants.

“ULA and Ball Aerospace created the Student Rocket Launch to give students a chance to have fun with rocket science,” Bruno said in a release from his company. “I’ve been building rockets for my whole life, and I hope this experience inspires some of these students to pursue careers in this industry. They will have a chance to create careers that haven’t been invented and shape humanity’s future in space.”

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Interns from ULA and Ball Aerospace volunteer to design, build and test the rockets and payloads with the guidance of mentors from both companies. The program condenses a multi-year launch campaign into only a few weeks.

The event featured three rockets, named Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, built by a total of 67 interns and 41 mentors from ULA and the Ball Intern Remote Sensing Team (BIRST).

“Our interns, who choose to do BIRST on top of their daily job responsibilities, worked incredibly hard over the past few weeks to ready their payloads for launch on ULA’s intern-built rockets,” said Dave Kaufman, president of Ball Aerospace. “We were extremely excited to see their inventive creations successfully take flight!”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

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