NEW SITE – A rocket that soared 800 feet and returned to earth with its fragile payload intact sent up cheers among New Site High School students who filled the stadium bleachers for a test flight Thursday.
The school’s Team America Rocketry Challenge team, made up of nine students in Ester Potts’ physics classes, already has qualified as Mississippi’s only team going to the national competition next month in The Planes, Va., near Washington, D.C.
The team includes seniors Charles Reece and Bronson Perrigo and seven juniors: Ashley Cox, Darrah Pharr, Cody Hall, Shawn Hutcheson, Andrew Moreland, Rusty Croft and Ethan Taylor.
On Thursday, they offered their fellow students an example of their talents and the upcoming challenge, sending the rocket into the air with a raw egg as its payload.
They’ll need to repeat that feat to come home as national champions.
“This event isn’t about which rocket can go the highest or stay up longest,” Potts said after the demonstration.
Rather, the challenge requires that the rocket carry one raw egg, lying horizontally in the rocket, to a height of 750 feet, and the flight must last exactly 45 seconds.
New Site completed its qualifying event on April 4, the only one of six competing Mississippi schools to move on to the national challenge.
This was the first year New Site has competed. However, in her previous job in Monroe County, Potts mentored a team that reached the national competition last year.
“Even though I had experience, it didn’t mean anything but helping buy parts and supplies,” Potts said. “I got the materials, but all the work putting it together must be the students.”
Before facing the next rocket flight challenge, the group must raise about $7,000 for the trip, which is May 14-17.
The competition’s sponsors include the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA, the Aerospace Industries Association and Aurora Flight Services, which has facilities in Columbus.
Lena Mitchell/Daily Journal