Rocketry team ascends to national championship

Shauna Perigo

The Redwood Rocketry Team placed in the top 100 teams in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) across the country, qualifying them for the National Finals in Washington, D.C. on May 9. Results were announced on Friday, April 3.

TARC is comprised of nearly 700 teams nationwide with participants in grades seven through twelve.

The Redwood Rocketry Team, also known as Alpha Strike Force, is comprised of juniors Max Lukianchikov, Isaac Perper, Matt Ross, Danny Geitheim,  Andy Ehrenberg, and Zack Kopstein.

Juniors Isaac Perper (left) and Max Lukianchikov (right) watch another team’s rocket take off at Moffet Field on March 29. The team will travel to Virginia in May to compete for the title of National Champion.
Juniors Isaac Perper (left) and Max Lukianchikov (right) watch another team’s rocket take off at Moffet Field on March 29. The team will travel to Virginia in May to compete for the title of National Champion.

To qualify for the National Finals this year, each team had three official launches to build and fly a rocket carrying a raw egg as close to 800 feet as possible and then return the egg uncracked to the ground in 46-48 seconds.

According to the TARC website, a new requirement this year stated that the rocket had to separate during flight, and the motor and the egg had to return to the ground detached from one another in separate pieces of the rocket.

Each team was allowed to launch their rocket as many times as they wanted for practice, but they had to declare two or three launches as “official” prior to take off. After an initial official launch that Lukianchikov said went poorly, the team completed two more successful official launches at Moffett Field on Sunday, March 29.

“Our second qualifying flight went really, really well,” Lukianchikov said. “It got to 790 feet and it was perfect timing, and then the third one was 801 and we were a second and a half off.”

The scores from each team’s top two official launches were averaged to give their overall score, and the remaining launch was discarded.

Before the competition in May, Kopstein said the team will just have to continue practicing.

“The first launch at Nationals is exactly the same as these ones,” Kopstein said. “Seventy-five teams go home after the first launch, and the top 25 who did well on the first launch go to a second launch and that one’s different. The altitude is 775 feet and the flight time’s a little different.”

Kopstein said if they place in the top 25 teams, they will have to add extra weight on to their rocket to make the flight height closer to 775 feet. Lukianchikov added that, at Nationals, they will not have any time to practice before their official launch.

“We just need to figure out how to launch it first time without any practice and get it as close to 800 feet as possible,” Lukianchikov said.

According to the TARC website, top placing teams at Nationals will split over $60,000 in cash, and the first place team will travel to France to compete in the International Rocketry Challenge in June.

The Redwood Rocketry Team hopes to place in the top ten teams at Nationals and also hopes to win the Best Dressed category, according to Lukianchikov.