Homer Hickam Surprises Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition Winners

National winners of the 12th annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition (age 10 to 18) celebrated at Space Camp / U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama.
By: Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition
12th RFTS Winners - group by Tina Hackey
12th RFTS Winners - group by Tina Hackey
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Nov. 4, 2018 - PRLog -- National winners of the 12th annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition qualified to celebrate at Space Camp / US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

«  Ian Jensen* of Venice High School, Sarasota, Florida scored the closest landings at his school. The event there was run by John Hearon.
«  Tristan Lloyd won his local event while competing at Citrus Springs Elementary in Citrus Springs Florida. Tina Hackey hosted.
«  Anthony Parsotam competed at an event at Liberty High School in Kissimmee, Florida. Dr. Samuel Crupi, High School Science Resource Teacher at Osceola County Schools hosted the competition.
«  Nyanti Pupoh took top honors at West Marion Elementary School in Marion, North Carolina. Peggy Hill hosted the competition.
«  Shawn Shaffer* won the competition at Wikinson Elementary in Sarasota, Florida. Teachers, Ed Hashey and Mark Harrison were in charge of the launch.
«  Vitale Wood competed during a STEM Camp at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Heather Kangas ran the event.
       * Ian Jensen and Shawn Shaffer were unable to attend and will receive their awards at their schools.

The RFTS ~ National Rocket Competition promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education and is run in memory of Christa McAuliffe / first Teacher-in-Space. Contestants, ages 10 to 18, had to build and launch their own solid-fuel powered rocket at an event held in their area. Across the country over 2000 kids competed at local events held by schools, scout troops, youth centers, museums, and rocket clubs in this year long competition.

As part of the celebration the young winners got to launch their rockets at Space Camp under an October Sky. Tristan Lloyd, Anthony Parsotam, Nyanti Pupoh and Vitale Wood set up to launch from the Homer Hickam Launch Pad. Friends and family cheered them on as, one-by-one, their rockets soared 200 feet into the air to return by parachute.

The winners continued their celebration; seeing the Pathfinder Space Shuttle, standing in the world famous Rocket Park, climbing the Mars Wall, lifting off on the Moon Shot, maneuvering Astronaut Simulators and visiting the Challenger Astronaut Memorial – honoring the memories of those lost in the conquest of space.

The young rocketeers were honored in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. An impressive array of presenters had already gathered when author Homer Hickam arrived to surprise everyone. He joined Vince Huegele, former director of education for the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), former Membership Chair Ronnie LaJoie and Robin Scott from the National Space Society (NSS), Section Chair Alex Jehle and Brittani Searcy - Greater Huntsville Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Jack and Kathy Colpas, founders of the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Blair Williams, Custom Programs and Brenda Carr, V.P. of Advancement from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center / Space Camp were there to congratulate the kids and ensure the celebration went smoothly.

Homer Hickam is a retired NASA engineer who wrote the New York Times bestselling memoir Rocket Boys which was made into the movie, October Sky. The book and movie are very popular with rocketeers of all ages which gives Mr. Hickam star status in this group.

Each of the winners was presented a Space Shuttle Challenger commemorative medal with certificate signed by Astronaut Jon McBride. Captain McBride piloted the Challenger on her earlier missions.

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 in front of the Lunar Lander under the historical Saturn V rocket allows us to fulfill our promise."

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 annual membership to winners and their hosts
«  American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) provides a photo journal of the celebration captured by G. Alan Lowrey.
«  Shot Thru the Heart Photography supplies images of the celebration captured by Tina Hackey. Tina hosts the RFTS Competition for hundreds of kids every year and has produced several national winners.
«  Gammons Charitable Foundation donated launch supplies to many of the host organizations.
«  Clarion Inn - Huntsville is offering discounted lodging.
«  Budget and Hertz offer discounts on rental cars.

Without the generosity of these businesses, this winners' celebration would not be possible.

Thanks to financial support from the Community Foundation through EdExploreSRQ students in several Sarasota County schools were given the opportunity to compete. Duke Energy funded the cost for hundreds of students in Citrus Springs, Florida.

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.

The 13th annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition is now underway. It is dedicated to the 'Artist who walked on the Moon', Astronaut Alan Bean. The artwork of Commander Bean is proudly displayed on all of the certificates presented to competitors across the country. Local Competitions can be held at any time before June 30th 2019.

Sponsors receive national recognition and the satisfaction of - Helping Kids Reach for the Stars. More information is available at http://www.therocketman.net/.

Jack Colpas, founder
Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition
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Location:Huntsville - Alabama - United States
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