Rocket Club Prepares a Rocket for NASA

The Oak Park Rocket Club is creating a rocket to launch as part of an upcoming NASA project.

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Charlie Nicks/Talon

Students in the OPHS Rocket club test their rocket which will be submitted to a NASA program.

Rumbles and roars are heard as rockets are launched and flown various times into the sky at Underwood Family Farms.

Prior to this, the Oak Park Rocketry team traveled to Virginia to participate in The American Rocketry Challenge finals where they competed to place within the top 25 rocketry teams of the nation.

Over winter break, the team launched a 3-foot, subscale rocket to test how the rocket would fly at the Student Launch Initiative Competition in Huntsville, Alabama this coming April.

The creation of the subscale rocket lasted roughly three weeks. Building the rocket consisted mainly of understanding the dimensions between the two rockets and resolving any complications that arose.

“When we first launched the subscale we noticed the flight of the subscale was slightly unstable. This was due to a miscalculation when running simulations,” team captain Forest Siewert said.

Once corrections were made, the design had to be submitted and reviewed by a panel of NASA engineers who would determine if the rocket’s design met all the requirements and was safe to be built in full scale.

Members of the team work various times a week on the rocket and use that time to adjust and make modifications in order to ensure the rocket will perform its absolute best on competition day.

“The process [of building the rocket] is the same [that] NASA and aircraft manufacturers use,” Oak Park Unified School District Superintendent Tony Knight said.

One of the most important aspects of this device is stability, a goal the team has been working hard to achieve.

“I hope it flies. It’s as simple as that. I hope it flies and does it’s job and looks awesome doing it,” junior and rocket club member Haniah Hamza said.

The team is set to travel to Huntsville within the first two weeks of April to launch their finished product and though many are excited to see the outcome of their labor, according to Hamza, the experience they gained from this project is something they will carry with them, no matter what the result is.

“This experience [brought] us together as a team … we’re the Oak Park Rocket family now,” Hamza said.