Posted by Lisa Smith at 4/24/2013
The HS Student Launch Initiative (SLI) team arrived back in the 'Grove on Monday, all smiles! After a one-day delay, due to poor weather in Alabama, the team was able to successfully launch their rocket 3,900 feet and have it land safely about 20 minutes away. If that was the only good thing that happened during their six-day trip to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, it would have been a great trip. As it is, their list of highlights is extensive.The students got to meet Homer Hickam, the world-renowned scientist who was the subject of the movie, October Sky. They met Charles Precourt, a retired NASA astronaut who once commanded the space shuttle. They toured the Marshall Space Flight Center, met with many NASA scientists and rocket specialists and even saw NASA's Mighty Eagle, an automated drone which can take off and land vertically. In addition, they learned even more about working on a team, working with a mentor, overcoming design and construction obstacles, holding webcast presentations and interviews with NASA scientists, and speaking with students and mentors from all of the other teams. Plus, they attended and displayed at the "Rocket Fair” containing the rockets and payloads from 49 other teams.
To say that this trip - even the entire SLI experience from August until now - was a life-altering event for these young scientists, would not be an exaggeration. For some, this was a culminating event in a high school career filled with accomplishments, as they will graduate in a few short weeks. Others will be back next year for round two of this exciting project. But for majority of the SLI team, this giant leap was the first step in what will become a life's work - to meet challenges, problem-solve as a team, and accomplish feats we can't yet imagine.The team's final report is due to NASA in early May and they will also receive feedback from their NASA mentors on the overall project. Then, work begins anew, building on what they've learned this year in order to make next year's SLI project even better.