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Spring Grove Rocketry Team makes history at NASA competition

  • Scott LaMar

Airdate: April 27th, 2023


South Central Pennsylvania has many successful sports teams and teams in academics that thrive in competition. But there are only a few that can say they won national competitions. The Spring Grove Area High School Rocketry team made history and won a competition at NASA’s Student Launch event last week.

The team launched their 27-pound, eight-foot-tall rocket to meet their exact target of 4,500 feet – winning the National Target Altitude Award – a perfect flight for the first time in the 23 year history of the competition.

On The Spark Thursday, we talked with members of the record-setting team. With us were: Dylan Tichy – High School NASA SLI team, Gautham Narayan – SGI TARC team, and Brian Hastings – Rocketry Advisor and SGAHS Physics Teacher.

Tichy said of hitting that perfect target of 4,500 feet,”There are so many things and so many hours that have to align just for something like that to happen because a slight gust of wind or hitting the launch button three seconds later could have caused the rocket to be off by three, even four feet. So just something that tiny could cause the flight to not perfect and for everything to line up for that to happen is just crazy.”

The altitude of 4,500 feet was chosen in November by those putting on the competition. Hasting said that set a goal for the Spring Grove team,” They’re gearing for that all year. And it’s one of the few awards that numbers don’t lie. If if you had it, you win. Some of the other awards are voted on by teammates like best looking rocket or you know, most team spirit that kind of thing. But there’s no denying if if you know, if you’ve won that altitude award and what makes the altitude award even harder some times is that you’re actually choosing your shot like you’re choosing now that you’re going to fly your rocket before the rocket is actually built. So if you screw up on the design process, you might make your rockets end up being too heavy and you’re not even going to be able to reach that altitude, let alone be able to have a rocket consistent enough to hone in on that altitude.”

Dylan was asked how the school has reacted to the national award,”Everyone’s kind of shocked. I mean, especially a lot of like, our administration. Like, they’re like, oh, wow, you guys won a national award. I mean, the national award part’s really cool. But then you add the little kind of side note. Oh, yeah. By the way, we made history, too. We got a perfect (shot). So just both of those together is just jaw dropping.”

Watch the Spring Grove Rocket team’s perfect launch here.


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