BANGOR, Maine — Three area high school students blasted their 3-foot rocket 686 feet into the cloudy skies over Bangor on Sunday, easily surpassing the 450-foot minimum height needed to qualify for the world’s largest model rocket contest, the Team America Rocketry Challenge.
Team members Hannah Chaisson of Glenburn, Ken VanDine of Bangor and Dale Thomas of Hampden make up the only team from Maine this year, according to Robin Kennedy of the Challenger Learning Center in Bangor. The Challenger Learning Center is the sponsor of the Maine team, and team coach Kennedy has offered encouragement and organizational assistance — though the students are required to do all the actual design and construction of the rocket and its solid-fuel engine in accordance with guidelines for the national competition.
The team’s rocket not only cleared the elevation threshold, but it also successfully deployed its parachute and returned to earth within 23 seconds — all while cradling a raw egg that emerged unbroken from its plastic bubble-wrap cocoon within the body of the rocket.
“We did great,” Kennedy said. The launch was observed and recorded by two members of the National Association of Rocketry.
Even having met all of the standards, the team won’t know until Friday whether it ranks in the top 100 teams out of about 640 in the nation. If so, the members will make plans to head for the national competition, which will take place in The Plains, Va., on May 17.
Kennedy sounded confident.
“We’ll be looking for some local businesses to sponsor us,” she said.
The students are vying for a total of $60,000 in scholarships and prizes provided by competition sponsors, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.