Emirati students launch self-made rockets in Dubai

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Emirati students launch self-made rockets in Dubai

Dubai - Serving as payload, eggs were inserted inside the big rockets - if they didn't break, the students got extra points


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Wed 27 Dec 2017, 3:50 PM

Last updated: Wed 27 Dec 2017, 5:58 PM

Twenty young Emiratis who are aspiring to become astronauts or rocket scientists took their first steps to reaching the skies by launching their self-made model rockets at Skydive Dubai Desert Campus on Wednesday.
The rocket launch activity was the culmination of the 10-day Go for Orbit! Mars workshop organised by Hamdan Bin Rashid Centre for Giftedness and Creativity in Dubai and developed by UAE-based 3D Education by Compass International.
Over the course of the 10-day workshop, instructors from US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gave the students valuable insights on how to design a system for a safe launch and journey to Mars.
The students, who came from various schools in Dubai, designed rockets for single stage and two-stage propulsions. Simulating an actual rocket launch, a video camera and electronics device were installed in the rocket to record its flight and measure its peak altitude.
Some of the rockets, measuring more than a meter in length and weighing less than 3 kg, propelled into the desert sky and reached over 500 meters before parachuting back to Earth while a few went spiraling out of control due to some technical and design glitches.
"A total of 15 rockets were launched and out of these, 10 performed very well; three were okay and two went down very quickly after suffering from technical failures," Michael Flachbart, who worked for NASA's youth education program for 29 years, told Khaleej Times.
Abdulrahman Almarri, 12, Grade 7 student at School of Research Science, whose rocket was first to take-off from the launch pad, said he was very satisfied and happy with his achievement. "I feel proud with what I accomplished and someday I will make my country proud by learning more about outer space and rocket science," he said.
The youngest in the group, eight-year old Alya Mohammed AlMarri said her hard work for two weeks paid off. She said she is more than inspired to become a rocket scientist and she wants to go to Mars in a rocket that she would build someday.
Noor Abdulla Omar, 12, Grade 7 student at Al Salam Private School in Dubai, whose rocket did not take-off at first try because it was disconnected from the launch pad said: "Initially I felt sad because I thought my rocket will not take off but eventually it was a successful launch. So, my message to young girls like me is to learn from our mistakes and focus on our dreams. For me, I want to become the first Emirati female astronaut."
Susan Bell, a commercial pilot who also worked for NASA's jet propulsion lab, said the rockets were built by the students from scratch and made of light materials. "We imported the kits from the US, especially and rocket propeller which are highly regulated here in the UAE," she said.
"It took a total of eight hours, spread over three days to finish the rockets because you to need to ensure that the rocket fins - made of balsa wood - are glued properly and the surface of the rockets smoothened. A single defect in the build can make the rocket go spiraling out of control," Bell added.
The students also designed the aerodynamics of the rockets and conducted computer simulations before the launch. Some made alterations in the length of the rocket to make it fly higher. Two students worked on the bigger rockets, measuring over one metre, while the smaller ones were built by individual students, according to Bell.
Bell said the students will be evaluated based on the performance of their rockets. The smaller rockets were built to reach between 100 to 300 metres while the bigger ones (two stage rockets) were designed to reach a minimum of 500 metres. There will be extra points if the parachute inside the rocket opened successfully before hitting the ground.
Serving as payload, a couple of eggs, wrapped carefully, were also inserted inside the big rockets and if the eggs did not break, the students will get more points. The students will be awarded today (Thursday) at Al Hudaiba Awards Center.
Huda Taha Al-Hammadi, enrichment and activity administration head at Hamdan Bin Rashid Centre for Giftedness and Creativity, said the students were chosen for their high IQ (intelligence quotient) and advanced knowledge in science and mathematics.
"Previously we conducted a seminar on robotics and how robots can work in Mars. We are investing heavily on Mars 2021 project and hopefully we can have future Emirati astronauts out of the current batch we have," Al Hammadi said.

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