On Saturday, May 7, I went to Richard Bong Recreation Area in Kansasville, WI to watch WSGC's NASA Space Grant Rocket Launch.  There were three divisions: the Collegiate Rocket Design Competition, First Nations Launch - AISES, and First Nations Launch - Tribal.

For the collegiate competition, with given motor and dimension restrictions, the students designed their high-powered rocket so that after reaching apogee will descend in a controlled fashion to land close to a pre-determined area. Further, all equipment should land safely under operating parachute(s).

There were many successful launches, and a few that didn't quite get their parachutes to deploy, but fun to watch nonetheless!  My friend Tyler from UW-Madison, who I worked with last summer on the Elijah Balloon Payload Project, and his partner Alex had two successful launches.  The first launch nearly hit a car, landing just about 15 feet away.  The launch day accounts for only 40% of the judging, but they currently sit in second place after a team from Milwaukee School of Engineering.

On a side note, I wear a NASA lapel pin nearly everyday, as a note of my passion and support of the 'meatball' and NASA initiatives.  Most of my friends don't necessarily share this same 'space fever' as I do, (never to be confused with Bieber fever, which I do not have) but my friend Kaitlyn came along with me to the event and although it was cold, windy, and sprinkled a few times throughout the day, it was a lot of fun.  Tyler and Alex's parents brought food and had blankets to share, and being college students, that was awesome and we thank them for that!

For the First Nation launches, there were different parameters for their rocket designs and goals, but their final rocket definitely took the prize for the most exciting to watch.  Twelve feet long with three motors, the "Ghost Spears" rocket took off and, without a parachute deploy, hit the ground with a plume of water. (See the pictures above)  What was like a sci-fy movie with everyone walking to the landing site of the monster of a rocket, it ended up landing in what was only about 6 inches of water... with only about a foot of the rocket sticking out of the water - OUT OF TWELVE FEET!  With some waders and a brave student, bits and pieces were recovered ending the day on a thrilling note. 

Even though I did not have a rocket in the competition, I love attending events like these because, besides being fun, I get to meet other students that have the same passion and interest in space science activities as I do and learn about cool things they've done or are working on.  You also get to see some familiar faces!

To check out more about the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and the Rocket Launches, check out the site here.

photos courtesy of Tyler and Alex