IS HOMER HICKAM JUDGING? The next generation of Rocket Boys and Rocket Girls must come up with a reusable rocket.
Their challenge: Design and build a reusable rocket capable of carrying a science payload to one mile above the surface and returning safely to the ground.

The team, all members of the county's 4-H rocketry club, is one of only 18 groups in the United States invited to display their skills this year as part of NASA's Student Launch Initiative. Their rocket will be launched in late April at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

"It cannot be wrecked," said Katlin Wagner, 15, a freshman at Slinger High School and the defending rocketry champ among 4-H youth in the county. "We must be able to put it back together and use it again."

To do that, Wagner and her teammates are crafting a multisection fiberglass rocket body.

After the rocket reaches its maximum altitude, the sections will separate to deploy parachutes, but they will remain tethered together by a long Kevlar strap, said Ben Pedrick, 14, also a freshman at Slinger High School. The sections can be put together again after each flight.
Regular readers recall my enthusiasm for 4-H projects, which can involve some unusual countdown holds.
[Cameron ]Schulz could not complete his altimeter assembly Saturday, however. He had to leave for another obligation: helping milk cows on a grandfather's nearby dairy farm.

"I do not want to milk cows today," said Schulz, a sophomore at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in the Town of Jackson. He is more interested in a future career in mechanical engineering.

That is NASA's goal: to inspire young people participating in the Student Launch Initiative to seek careers in engineering, math, science and technology, said Tammy Rowan, assistant manager of the Marshall Center's academic affairs office.
The space program is cooperating in other ways. No zincoshine fuel, for one.

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