The first word that comes to mind is “missile” — but this 11′-4″ tall, 43-lb. sky vehicle isn’t used for military purposes. It’s a science experiment. And its designers prefer to use the term “rocket.”
There’s a certain giddiness as the various members of the U of L Rocket Team show off their “baby.” The group is all smiles, from Nick Greco, the team captain, to members Kyle Hord, Kara Leeds, Dhwani Shah, Nathan Armentrout and Zack Weber — and for good reason. The team garnered fifth place out of 42 teams in their first national rocket competition last year — and this year, they believe they’ve got a shot at being Number One.
Armed with the necessary cash and ammonium perchlorate (the solid propellant that would fuel the model), the team set about actually building the rocket that would fly in the competition. Most of the construction took place at LVL-1 Hackerspace, a community shop of sorts at the corner of E. Broadway and S. Shelby St. The rocket was a mishmash of electronics (to record telemetry and scientific measurements such as temperature, altitude and humidity), wood and a lot of epoxy (to hold the fins in place.)
And as the team would soon discover, not every launch is a success. In fact, some have a tendency to put everyone involved on edge — especially when the parachute fails to deploy on a half-scale model, and the rocket becomes a 10-lb. missile hurtling back toward the launch pad near the speed of sound.