Astronomy Class Rockets Blast Off Into Lower Orbit

On Friday, September 24th, at 2:00 PM, the 2021 Friends Select Astronomy Class made their way onto the launchpad at Lemon Hill Playground to launch the rockets they built over the week and a half prior.

In the first few weeks of Astronomy, the class learned about space, stars, planets, and various other subjects of the broader cosmos. According to Astronomy teacher Perry Zanki, the goal of the rocket project was to “gain the experience of following instructions and then applying one’s skills to build a piece of equipment that can overcome gravity and achieve an altitude of over 1,000 ft in a matter of seconds. Later in the course, we will dovetail the lessons learned from this experience, with Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion to further distill our understanding of space travel.”

Throughout the process, there were challenges, failures, and lessons learned. People’s rockets wouldn’t work, materials got misplaced, seniors struggled to understand how glue works. 

“The rockets we built required a lot of patience in order to properly glue the fins onto the main body,” said Campbell Lee, ‘23. “Even so, Perry’s enthusiasm made the entire process extremely fun.”

On launch day the class was able to successfully launch all 8 rockets and recovered 5 of them. That’s a 62.5% recovery rate.  

“On that particular afternoon of our lab, the principal goals were 1) a successful launch and 2) a successful retrieval so that our rocket (launch vehicle) could be recycled and used again, and again,” Perry stated. In this regard, the project was a success.