Pupils are flying high after rocket success

PUBLISHED: 11:31 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:01 06 May 2010

AIMING for the stars are five boys from a St Albans school who have entered a national competition to make and launch a rocket. The quintet, Marc de Vos, Matthew Harrop, Simon Rickenbach, Hui Qi Wang and James Rickenbach, are all students at Beaumont Scho

The Beaumont rocket successfully soars into the sky

AIMING for the stars are five boys from a St Albans school who have entered a national competition to make and launch a rocket.

The quintet, Marc de Vos, Matthew Harrop, Simon Rickenbach, Hui Qi Wang and James Rickenbach, are all students at Beaumont School in Oakwood Drive.

They have got through the qualifying stage of the competition organised by the UK Rocket Association and with 19 other schools have qualified to go forward for a fly-off in the Easter holidays.

If they are successful in that, they will be off to America in May for a demonstration flight at the equivalent competition in America.

To get through the qualifying stage to the fly-off, the team had to design a rocket which would reach 750 feet in height and land safely by parachute within 45 seconds.

The additional "twist" was that throughout the launch, flight and landing, the rocket had to carry two eggs which remained undamaged during the whole procedure.

Beaumont is the only school in Herts to have entered the competition. The team designed, built, simulated and tested two rocket designs. In seven launches they made a qualifying flight that exceeded the design parameters and one which exactly matched the qualifying criteria.

The competition has proved to be a real learning experience for the boys. Apart from the process of designing and building the rocket, during which they had to get to grips with complex scientific concepts, they also had to apply for an explosives licence to store, purchase and transport the rocket motors.

Beaumont teachers Stephen Turner and Mich Jones are very proud of the boys' achievement - but it has not been all plain sailing.

Mr Turner said: "In one test flight it all went horribly wrong and the rocket separated into parts.

"Unfortunately they didn't all stay attached to the parachute and the main section carrying the eggs fell to earth from 500 feet. Remarkably the eggs were unbroken."

The project has received support from a number of sources including engineering consultants Faber Maunsell, international space company Astrium-Eads and the University of Herts.

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