About 70 rockets will roar off of six launch pads as students from 41 Texas high schools gather near Fredericksburg to take part in Rockets 2010, April 22-25.
This is the fourth year for the event, which is the culminating activity of the acclaimed SystemsGo Aeroscience program developed over 10 years by Brett Williams, technology teacher at Fredericksburg High School.
The number of rockets to launch is a record – nearly doubled from previous years. To handle the increased load, the launch site has moved from the Meek Ranch south of Fredericksburg to the Stewart Ranch located north of town near Willow City.
First-year classes will attempt to send a one-pound payload more than one mile high. A dozen second-generation projects will launch rockets designed to break the sound barrier and reach heights up to 12,000 feet. Plans call for a rocket to go up every 30 minutes between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. each day.
Organizers remind the public that the area should be considered an experimental testing range. Schedule may vary, mobility will be limited, access will be controlled and visitors need to be aware that this is the first flight of all rockets.
Other activities are planned and the public is invited to attend and participate free of charge. Representatives of universities and aerospace industry will be set up on site. Texas Tech will bring three Segway personal transporters for demonstration. Texas State Technical College plans to set up a mobile computer lab. Also confirmed are representatives of the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Kettering University and NASA International Space Station. Other exhibitors will be announced.
Area middle schools, private and home schools have been invited to bring their students for demonstrations and activities. An area is planned for crafts, science projects and rocket kit building, with students able to launch rockets they build on site. A small fee will be charged for those building rockets from kits.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will set up a remote weather monitoring station to provide up-to-the-minute forecasts. The Lower Colorado River Authority will provide two communications trailers and dispatch units to assist staff with staying in contact with air traffic controllers.
More than 100 volunteers from the Hill Country and Texas will be on hand to support this initiative. A 40-foot by 100-foot tent will provide cover from the weather and there will be food booths, electric generators, portable potties and cell phone coverage.
Maps to the site, launch schedule and complete listings of activities will be posted online at www.igniteeducation.org.
For information on lodging, area restaurants and other events in the Fredericksburg area, visitors are encouraged to contact the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau at 830-997-6523 or www.fredericksburg-texas.com.
Ignite is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed to help spread the program to other high schools in Texas. Anyone wanting to start a program, to provide support or to learn more about Ignite can visit www.igniteeducation.org or call 830-997-3567.