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USA team rockets to victory

Raytheon-sponsored student team wins international rocketry contest

Grace Basler of the winning USA team (in the red shirt) high-fives a member of the team from Japan after results of the international rocketry competition were announced at the 2017 Paris Air Show.

A team of budding rocket scientists from Festus, Missouri, are the rocket champions of the 2017 Paris Air Show.

The student team successfully launched an egg aboard a rocket they designed and built, and after a precise flight, brought it safely back to the ground. The effort earned the team the championship title in the International Rocketry Challenge on June 23, outperforming teams from the United Kingdom, France and Japan. Japan came in second, France third.

The UK team won best presentation and best flight, but when its rocket landed, the egg it carried was sadly broken.

"Competing with the other teams is fun," said US team member Ryan Brown. "It's a friendly competition, but at the same time, you want to win."

The Festus team traveled to France after it won the annual Team America Rocketry Challenge, which drew more than 42 teams from schools in 28 states this year. The teams had gathered in rural Virginia to compete in the world’s largest student rocket contest.

Their goal: Design, build and fly a rocket, each carrying one raw chicken egg exactly 775 feet into the air, and return the egg undamaged. Oh, and each flight must be no shorter than 41 seconds and no longer than 43 seconds.

"After we won (the national contest), most of us weren't sure whether we wanted to scream or run eight miles, because that's how much energy we had," said Festus team member Grace Basler.

The winning USA team, with rocket, at the 2017 Paris Air Show. From left to right: Ed Bohnert, Joel Marler, Christopher Carden, Ryan Brown, Rylie Martin (in front with rocket), Grace Basler, Cydney Breier, Timothy Ruesche, Ashton Croft, Jacob Rozner.

Flying a rocket that precisely requires great attention to detail, taking into account such factors as wind strength, air humidity, and the angle from which a rocket must be launched to follow the strict flight path.

“It's great to finally see what aerospace is all about," said team member Ashton Croft after the Paris win. "The people you meet, the opportunities you have and of course the sights to see make this an experience of a lifetime.”

The student teams and their coaches dedicate many after-school hours to designing and building their rockets.

"I'm amazed," Devin Lorenz, the Festus team's coach and a former member, said before the Paris trip. "I didn't even consider this a possibility. We wanted to get them to TARC and make sure they had a good time. It's just an amazing accomplishment.”

This is the 12th year that Raytheon sponsored student rocketeers on their summer journey to Europe, part of the company's effort to promote math and science education. Many former participants now have careers in science, technology, engineering or math, the subjects known collectively as STEM. One is an intern at NASA; another is an electrical engineer at IBM.

The U.S. team has brought home the international title for the past three years, highlighting that an exciting and fun rocketry contest can open a world of possibility

Published: 05/10/2017

Last Updated: 06/23/2017

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