Vestavia Hills school selected to supply payload for ULA’s Student Rocket Launch
Vestavia Hills Elementary Dolly Ridge has been selected to participate in United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Student Rocket Launch.
ULA’s Student Rocket Launch is a program in which the rocket company’s intern volunteers design, build and launch three 19-foot high-power sport rockets. Dolly Ridge students were selected by ULA to provide payloads to be flown aboard those rockets. Payloads in the world of rocketry are on-board experiments and instruments deployed after launch.
Dolly Ridge joins schools from seven different states in supplying K-12 student payloads. Teams were chosen on the basis of proposals submitted earlier in the year. Launches propel the intern-built rockets thousands of feet above the ground.
The Student Rocket Launch is designed to give students hands-on experience working with rockets and payloads and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and space entrepreneurs, according to the company.
“The importance of hands-on STEM education to today’s students cannot be overstated,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO in a release from the company. “The Student Rocket Launch gives students from kindergarten through graduate school the opportunity to design, innovate, problem-solve and bring to life payloads and rockets that they will see launch thousands of feet above the ground. Our team is very impressed by the technical knowledge and creativity the teams showed in their proposals and design reviews.”
A payload can be almost anything a team can create within the provided guidelines. Payloads going up this year include experiments that explore the effects of gravity, astronaut art packs, airbag deployment systems, landers that gather soil and ground rovers.
ULA is regarded as the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider and a member of Alabama’s community of elite aerospace and defense companies. ULA’s 1.6 million-foot rocket factory in Decatur is the largest such facility in the Western Hemisphere. The company has enjoyed 100% mission success on its 144 total launches.
Bruno has consistently maintained that expanding the number of students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum is critical to the United States remaining a leader in the aerospace industry.
“When we talk about space and our industry, we’re really talking about STEM, and the dominant element of STEM is engineering, engineering and applied science,” he explained at the AscendxSummit last year. “If we’re not careful, we’ll produce people who are very theoretical, but have less ability to handle the applied side of that.”
In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey has created the STEM Council to study and inform state leaders on how to advance Alabama’s efforts in the STEM strand.
Ivey explained at the time that the Yellowhammer State “has continued to grow into an advanced manufacturing, aerospace engineering and cybertechnology center of excellence and as a result, the demand for qualified labor in these sectors has skyrocketed.”
The 2021 Student Rocket Launch will take place July 17 at Hudson Ranch in Pueblo, Colorado.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia