Wisconsin students are champion rocketeers

Team headed to Paris competition after winning rocketry nationals

Students from 101 teams across 25 states gathered this weekend in Virginia to participate in the TARC National Fly-Off. The winning team is headed to Europe to compete in the International Rocketry Challenge on June 21.

The third time was the charm for the Stewart V.

The Stewart V, a rocket built by a student team from Madison West High School in Wisconsin, rose above the competition to take top honors at the Team America Rocketry Challenge in Virginia on May 18. It bested rockets from the top 101 teams from 25 states, winning the $20,000 top prize for its student builders.

The Stewart V scored a 3 and a 4 in launches before the big day, but pulled off an 8 to win the competition in its final launch.

“This feels amazing,” said team Captain Jacob Mello. “We really didn’t know each other well at the beginning of the year, but we became friends and pulled together as a team.”

Mello and his team will now head to Europe, where they will compete in the International Rocketry Challenge at the Paris Air Show in June, going up against teams from France, Japan and the U.K.

Over the past seventeen years, more than 80,000 students have participated in the Team America Rocketry Competition; but this year, the organizers took the competition to new heights. This year’s contest honored the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, with TARC implementing new requirements for the May 18 National Fly-Off.

“Apollo 11 showed what was scientifically possible through teamwork, ingenuity and problem-solving skills,” said Raytheon Chairman and CEO Tom Kennedy. “In their own way, the TARC competitors also learned this valuable lesson. It’s a lesson they can use throughout their studies, and in careers that have the promise to further push the bounds of what’s possible in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

At the Fly-Off, teams were required to design, build, and fly a safe, stable model rocket to an altitude of exactly 856 feet – 8:56 PM, July 20, 1969, Houston time was the moment Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. 

The student rockets had to be in flight between 43 and 46 seconds, carrying a payload of three raw hen's eggs for Apollo’s three astronauts. The eggs had to be returned to Earth undamaged in a section of the rocket (the “Apollo capsule”) that landed separately from the rocket motors and fins, using two or more parachutes of nearly the same size (Apollo 11 recovered with three).

The idea behind TARC is to have students take the first step toward a career in a STEM field like engineering, jet propulsion or rocket science.

Published On: 05/20/2019
Last Updated: 05/20/2019