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Liberty rocketry lifts to fifth place in nation

The Rocket Team at Liberty Middle School rated fifth in the nation at the Team America Rocket Challenge (TARC).

The Rocket Team at Liberty Middle School rated fifth in the nation at the Team America Rocket Challenge (TARC).

Making the win sweeter, the Liberty team competed against all high schools and middle schools. “The top 100 teams out of 687 from across the United States were invited to the national fly-off in Plains, Va. on May 12,” team coach Nate Pahman said.

Team members are eighth-graders Kyle Sander and Ethan Canup and seventh-graders Eli Canup, Calvin Bush, Michael Kvicala and Logan Whitaker.

“We came in second among all middle school teams — quite a feat in itself,” Pahman said.

Huntsville Area Rocket Association (HARA) helped the team when questions arose.

To qualify, team members expressed an interest in attending after-school meetings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and occasional Saturdays. They built the rocket at Liberty and launched it in a cotton field in south Huntsville.

“Our rocket had to fly 800 feet and carry two eggs without breaking them,” Pahman said. “It had to stay airborne for 43-47 seconds and weigh under 650 grams.” They completed many simulated flights by computer before building the rocket with wood, cardboard and plastic.

The team will split $2,500 in prize money. Liberty’s rocket program won $2,000. The team now can build and launch a high-powered rocket with $2,500 from NASA for costs. Pahman earned paid trips to rocket and balloon summer workshops from NASA.

“On behalf of the rocket team and their parents, we would like to thank all of our sponsors and supporters,” Pahman said.

Sponsors for the Liberty team were Design World, Huff Performance, Autozone, FLIR of Madison, Management Technology Associates Inc., American Helicopter Society, Heritage Family Medicine and the Wetzel family.

Next school year, the Liberty Rocket Team hopes to participate in the Student Launch Initiative (SLI). “It’s an opportunity offered by NASA for these young men to experience high-powered rocketry, along with the entire top 25 teams and universities,” Pahman said.

For more information about TARC, visit rocketcontest.org.

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