Lake Zurich rocket club launches second attempt at competition
The Lake Zurich Rocketry Club, made up of LZHS students, built a rocket that earned them a trip last April to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. | Photos courtesy Rocketry Club
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:21AM
Lake Zurich — The Lake Zurich Rocketry Club, made up of Lake Zurich High School students, built a rocket that earned them a trip last April to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
As 2013 approaches, the team is working hard for another trip, this time with an even more impressive rocket.
“To qualify, you have to win a rocket competition,” said Don Peet, Team Advisor for the Lake Zurich Rocketry Club. “We didn’t have much time to prepare, but it just went phenomenally.”
Peet’s son, Eric Peet, started the Lake Zurich Rocket Club when he was in seventh grade. Eric Peet is the team leader for the seven-member club. He said the last rocket they launched went about 4,485 feet high.
“Eric decided to get some people together and launch some rockets and it became more serious over the years,” said Lucas Veitch, technology and safety manager for the group.
Don Peet explained that the team participated in the Rockets for Schools competition, in which teams of students write proposals and submit them for NASA’s approval. If approved, the team gets a chance at going to Huntsville.
Eric Peet explained that the process included submitting a preliminary design for the rocket, building a website for the project and a test fly. Because they plan on returning to the competition, Eric explained, they have to have a more sophisticated model this time.
“We have to have a more advanced payload this time,” said Eric. “A payload is an experiment that’s put inside a rocket. It’s the most fun because it’s where you can be creative.”
Eric explained that the payload the team is designing for the second round includes a water jacket around the primary payload to trap in more heat.
“It’s amazing how much thought and planning goes into this,” said Matt Womack, Club Service Chair of the Lake Zurich Rotary Club, which gave the rocketry club $750 to go towards their trip to Alabama. Womack, who saw the rocket that the team had built, said he was very impressed.
“They did a better job than many of the college kids, and that’s impressive,” he said.
Jacob Edwards, team budgeting manager, said he was grateful to the Rotary Club for their contribution. He said going to the space flight center was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“We have to budget for every single component,” said Edwards. “Half the expense is the trip.”
At the space flight center, awards were given to high school and college teams from throughout the country. Don Peet said 15 high schools and about 45 college teams participated in the rocket competition in Alabama. Of 15 high school teams, the Lake Zurich Rocketry Club won the award for Best Team Spirit. The team said they were honored to receive this award because they felt working together is integral to success.
Team members said to qualify for these types of competitions, all factors must be carefully considered in an initial proposal, including propulsion, speed, height, aesthetics, safety, budget and educational value.