Wednesday, July 1, 2015

LBCC Space Rockets: Second Year and Going Up!

LBCC Space Exploration Club students react after
seeing their rocket payload data for the first time at Wallops.
Rear, L to R: Christina Pack, Delphine LeBrun Colon,
Steven Blench. Front, L to R: Amelia Beckwith, Levi Willmeth,
John Paul Molden, Hazel Betz. At table in rear: Ariel Stroh
Albany, OR.- For the second year in a row, Linn-Benton Community College students participated in launching a space rocket from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, one of only three community colleges in the US to participate.

Eight members of the LBCC Space Exploration Club headed to Wallops at the end of June for a RockSat-C workshop, where the students assembled a payload project that was attached to a two-stage rocket and launched on June 25, reaching an altitude of 71 miles, officially in space.

LBCC is an affiliate of the NASA Oregon Space Grant Consortium (OSGC), and continues to develop as a regional center for space studies and student-focused space exploration.

In 2014, LBCC sent three students and their advisor, LBCC computer systems instructor Parker Swanson, to a RockOn workshop in Virginia. The students, dubbed “Rocket Women” by Swanson, returned full of enthusiasm and committed to the next step in rocket-carried space science.

“This year, the students participated in the higher-level RockSat-C program, a nine-month process in which they selected a space science experiment, designed and built the apparatus to accomplish it, qualified it to exacting NASA space-flight standards, and launched it along with other student experiments at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia,” said Swanson.

The 12 members of the Space Exploration Club developed their project during the past school year, which included an array of radioactive-particle detectors capable of discriminating between low-energy particles and high-energy cosmic rays.

The rocket’s instrument payload splashed down by parachute in the Atlantic and returned to shore, where each team retrieved their payload.

“When the team displayed their data on the computer, they were thrilled to learn that their experiment had been a complete success,” said Swanson.

The Space Exploration Club plans to participate in either another “RockSat-C” experiment or a more advanced rocket flight in the “RockSat-X” program in 2016. Students also are planning space-science experiments using small “CubeSat” satellites and high-altitude balloons.

LBCC is rolling out its participation in an official Space Studies major and minor curriculum, in cooperation with Oregon State University and others affiliated with OSGC. For more information, contact Parker.Swanson@linnbenton.edu.

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