A Bumpy But Stylish Fourth Annual Rocket Launch

May 24, 2023 marked the fourth annual GALA Engineering Rocket Launch. Drawing many students out of their seventh periods to witness, this tradition is alive and well. I had the privilege of covering this story last year as well and was excited to once again see the launching of the uniquely painted rockets from each group of engineers.

This year’s lineup of rockets included conic (pointed tip) and elliptical (rounded) designs painted with every style you could imagine. There was a rocket painted as a No. 2 pencil, a rocket painted as Vector from the Minions franchise (I guess he’s finally going to be able to steal the moon), and the list goes on: farm animal themed, Patrick from Spongebob, pink and patterned, etc. It is clear that while this is an engineering class, this doesn’t stop the students from showing off their masterful artistry and creativity with their assignments.

The field was bustling with excitement as the first rocket was prepared to launch. As I heard the countdown starting I broke off of my conversation with some of the engineering students and pressed the recording button. But even after, “…3, 2, 1…,” the rocket stayed immobile. They moved on to the next rocket under the assumption and hope that it was just one faulty engine. Vector. Patrick. Pink. Unfortunately, they all tried and were unsuccessful.

Many observers of the launch were disappointed. Ella Salim, a senior, expressed, “You know, this is my fourth year attending the rocket launch, and I was so excited to watch the pencil rocket launch, and so I’m very sad.”

In an interview with engineering student Lina, she remarked, “I think it’s something to do with the engine and the circuit that we had to make for it.”

Ms. Leifield, the teacher of this class, stated, “We’re going to go back, troubleshoot, and try some other engines.” When I asked what specifically she thought went wrong, she responded with, “There is more than one possibility, but maybe the type of engines we have in there are intended to be like an intermediate engine and not the one at the bottom. Because sometimes you have two-stage rockets, maybe these are the wrong types of engines.” She explained the rockets were apparently a different model than last year, and that they would have to try some different engines to see what works.

After some quick troubleshooting, we went out on the field again that same hour. Again, no success in the launch. While this is an ongoing story that will be updated once the rocket engineers prevail, for now, more troubleshooting.

“Fingers crossed they’ll be out there [again],” says Ella. Oh, they definitely will be.