U of L's River City Rocketry team takes home two awards from NAS - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L's River City Rocketry team takes home two awards from NASA's Student Launch competition

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(Courtesy: River City Rocketry Facebook page) (Courtesy: River City Rocketry Facebook page)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville's rocket team took home two awards from a national competition put on by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center over the weekend.

River City Rocketry, a team made up of over a dozen University of Louisville engineering students, took part in the competition, which took place April 13-16 near the space center in Huntsville, Alabama.

While there, the team earned the Safety Award and the Best Web Site Award.

Nearly 50 middle and high school, college and university teams from 22 states took part in the competition, according to a news release from NASA. 

Teams spent the past eight months building and testing rockets designed to fly to an altitude of one mile, deploy an automated parachute system, and land safe enough for reuse, while other teams also designed scientific payloads for data collection during flight.

The weeklong event -- now in its 16th year -- included an astronaut visit with Kjell Lindgren of the Expedition 44/45 to the International Space Station.

River City Rocketry's launch vehicle was over nine feet tall. Made of carbon fiber, it weighed just over 38 pounds and had a peak velocity of 638 feet-per-second. It was designed to reach a peak apogee of 5,277 feet.

Not everything went as planned, however. The main parachute failed to deploy correctly during the rocket's flight, causing the rocket to land harder than expected -- as the team noted during a post-flight interview conducted by NASA.

"I haven’t done a full assessment of the entire rocket, but it looks like we haven’t incurred any major damage," said team member Kevin Compton, a U of L junior and mechanical engineering student, shortly after the flight. "We definitely came in a little too hot than what we expected.”

"It’s just that one of the fins is a little broken. But we have replacements for those. It could fly again if we wanted it to," said Zak Wright, a mechanical engineering major and senior at U of L.

Contingencies aside, the team says there's nothing like the thrill of a launch.

"This is my third season, and every single time that it goes off, I just get a giant rush," Compton said. "It’s amazing."

"I've had a lot of great experiences with the team, a lot of great experiences at Student Launch," added Wright. "It’s definitely been a great experience. I’ll take a lot away from it."

The team had several sponsors, including Raytheon Missile Systems, Broties, Samtec, CD-adepco and NASA Kentucky.

To visit the team's award-winning Web site, CLICK HERE.

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