At first, bad weather forced those overseeing a frozen Cape Canaveral North to scrub the launch.
But by Wednesday afternoon, conditions improved enough for the grades 4 to 9 students at The Renert School to blast 26 model rockets into the heavens.
At the call to “arm your rocket” and a countdown from five, one 30-centimetre model rocket after another lifted off from a dirt lot next to the private school at 14 Royal Vista Link N.W., to the delight of students including Armaan Javer, 13.
Many of the rockets, tracked by an altitude gun, reached a height of about 130 metres, many falling back to Earth without a parachute deployment.
An eager recovery crew of junior rocket scientists quickly descended on the fallen missiles.
“This is our first time launching rockets, and we want to fail forward and make modifications,” said Javer.
From store-purchased rocket kits, students assembled their crafts, gently fitted with cardboard-clad solid fuel engines before being sent aloft at the click of an orange plastic launcher.
It’s all part of an effort to catapult excitement for space science, said the University of Calgary’s Dr. Laura Mazzino from the University of Calgary’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“We’re taking them through how to manage a space program like NASA — rocket construction, space, the stars and constellations,” she said.
“The idea is to expose them at an early age so they have a science and math background.”
The weather, she said, atop Calgary’s blustery far northwest roof, was proving another educational challenge for the students, said Mazzino.
“One caught some high winds and we didn’t recover it,” she said.
The plan is to expand the effort next spring with the launch of at least 150 rockets from the site, said Mazzino.
That sounded like a good plan to Brogan Gannon, 13 who didn’t mind braving the cold for the thrill of the launch.
“We put a lot of time into it and it’s time to see if we’ve built our rockets right — most of them went sky-high and turned out well,” he said.
Several of his friends said they’d like to pursue space science in university, particularly in light of an impending planned mission to Mars.
“It’s a very interesting subject and our future depends on it,” said Javer.
“And there’s so much we don’t know about space.”