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The RFTS Competition is run in memory of Christa McAuliffe / first Teacher-in-Space. Local Competitions were held by schools, scout troops, youth centers, museums, and rocket clubs across the country. Contestants had to build and launch their own solid-fuel powered rocket. The closest average landing to an on-field target wins the local event. The local winner's results determine the five national winners.
Taking top honors were: Jessica Flowers - Carmel, Indiana, Victoria Miterko and Lilianna Henry - Citrus Springs Florida, Kyle Hughes - North Attleboro, Massachusetts , Sophia Jasso - Santa Ana, California and Jordyn Presley - Milton, Florida. Joining the group was Nathan Jones, Burnsville, Minnesota - one of last year's winners. Jordyn Presley and Lilianna Henry were unable to attend and will receive the awards at their school.
The national winners celebrated their success at Space Camp / US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. They launched their rockets from Homer Hickam Launch Pad**under an October Sky (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/october-sky). To the delight of the spectators, the winners' rockets soared hundreds of feet into the air to return by parachute.
Each winner was honored at a ceremony held in front of the lunar lander. All competitors in the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition received a certificate featuring the artwork of Alan Bean, one of the 12 men who walked on the moon. So it is indeed a fitting location.
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The winners received achievement certificates from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) presented by Brittani Searcey. Jann Koepke (AIAA) was one of the RFTS local judges in California and came to congratulate all the winners. Honorary memberships in the National Space Society (NSS) were delivered by Robin Scott.
They were awarded a Space Shuttle Challenger commemorative medal with certificate signed by Astronaut Jon McBride. Captain McBride piloted the Challenger on her early missions. The presentation was made by Rocket City Space Pioneer, Tim Pickins and National Association of Rocketry (NAR) past Educational Director, Vince Huegele. AIAA representative, Robert Engberg photographed the event.
With their families, the winners saw the Pathfinder Space Shuttle, stood in the world famous Rocket Park, soared on Space Shot, climbed the Mars Wall, rode Astronaut Simulators and visited the Challenger Astronaut Memorial.
Competition co-director, Kathy Colpas says, "We promise the national winners - memories to last a lifetime and bragging rights for generations to come. Launching their rockets from a memorable location and being honored under the historical Saturn V rocket allows us to fulfill our promise."
Jessica Flowers won her local competition at Prairie Trace Elementary in Carmel, Indiana under the direction of teacher Sandi Johnson.
Lilianna Henry and Victoria Miterko won their local events while competing at Citrus Springs Elementary in Citrus Springs, Florida. Tina Hackey was the Competition host.
Kyle Hughes launched at Hockomock YMCA in N. Attleboro, Massachusetts with Associate Director of Children's Services, Kim Jennings.
Sophia Jasso competed in Santa Ana, California at Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School under the direction of teacher, Andrea Earl.
Jordyn Presley launched with Bagdad Elementary in Milton, Florida. This event was run by teacher Tammy Dillard. The Competition at this school was funded by a NASA grant through the Florida Space Grant Consortium.
Nathan Jones, a Civil Air Patrol cadet from the 130th Composite Squadron, Lakeville, Minnesota was one of last year's national winners.
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Tina Hackey and Andrea Earl have hosted the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition for several years. Both have had multiple national winners. They were presented with certificates of appreciation from RFTS directors, Jack and Kathy Colpas.
Several companies have joined together to provide unforgettable memories for the national winners of the annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition.
« Space Camp / US Space & Rocket Center provides an unforgettable day for the winners and their families.
« National Space Society (NSS) extends free membership to each winner.
« American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) provides an achievement certificate and a photo journal of the celebration.
« National Association of Rocketry (NAR) awards achievement certificates.
« Estes – the world leader in educational rocketry supplied each winner with a rocket kit to build and launch.
« Gammons Charitable Foundation donated launch supplies to many of the host organizations.
« Clarion Inn - Huntsville offers discounted lodging.
« Hertz and Budget offer a reduced rate on car rentals.
Without the generosity of these businesses, this winners' celebration would not be possible.
Sponsors receive national recognition and the satisfaction of - Helping Kids Reach for the Stars. More information is available at http://www.TheRocketman.net
Jack and Kathy Colpas, co-directors of the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition are retired public school educators with over 50 years of classroom experience.
"Our goal is to give kids the educational experience of building and launching a solid-fuel powered rocket.
Our purpose is to foster an interest in model rocketry, STEM subjects and aeronautics.
Our mission is to keep alive the memory of the first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe.
The 12th annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition is already underway. Your kids can't win it – if they're not in it.
* Thomas Wolfe, The Right Stuff – (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 1979
**Homer Hickam is the author of the inspirational memoir, Rocket Boys which became the movie October Sky.
Jack Colpas co-director
Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition
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