NASA Wallops set to launch Rocket Week

Tamara Dietrich
Contact Reportertdietrich@dailypress.com
Rocket Week set to launch at NASA Wallops, offering the ABCs of rocketry and science payloads

Rocket Week kicks off Saturday at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore, offering students and educators the chance to be immersed in the how-to's of rocketry and science payloads.

The week will include the launch of a suborbital sounding rocket to send more than 100 experiments 70 miles up into the Earth's ionosphere.

Joyce Winterton, senior adviser for education and leadership development at Wallops, said the ongoing success of the annual event shows the growing interest in STEM disciplines and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

"We want to show the importance of STEM majors and the opportunities that are open to them — in particular, those in the aerospace fields," Winterton said in a statement Wednesday.

About 200 college students and faculty from across the country and 20 high school teachers from Virginia and other eastern states are expected to participate in three programs throughout the week.

The college participants will build and fly experiments on the rocket as part of the RockOn! and RockSat-C programs, NASA says. The high school teachers will learn how to apply rocketry basics in their curricula through the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers, or WRATs, program.

RockOn! and RockSat have been offered for nine and eight years, respectively, and WRATs for six.

RockOn! and RockSat take students from "learning to crawl, through the baby steps and then on to walking in scientific experiment development," said Chris Koehler, director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, which conducts the programs along with its Virginia counterpart and with NASA's Sounding Rocket Program.

The experiments, including more than 80 cubesats developed by middle school students in 49 states, are set to launch aboard a Terrier Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket at 6 a.m. Thursday.

NASA plans to stream the launch live beginning at 5:30 a.m., and its Visitor Center will open for public viewing at 5 a.m. The launch should only be visible in the Wallops area, NASA said.

To view the live-stream, go to ustream.tv/channel/nasa-tv-wallops.

After launching, the payload will descend by parachute into the Atlantic Ocean for retrieval. NASA said participants will have their experiments back in hand by the end of the day.

Dietrich can be reached by phone at 757-247-7892.

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