On May 18, Ridgefield’s St. Monica’s Rocket Club will compete against 100 of the top middle and high school rocketry teams from across the country at the 17th annual Team America Rocketry Challenge where the winning team will earn the right to represent the United States at the international competition held in Paris, France in June. The St. Monica’s Team earned the right to compete at the National Fly-Off by submitting qualification flights that scored in the top 100 among 830 other teams from across the United States.

The Team America Rocketry Challenge is the world’s largest rocketry contest and is a program designed to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The competition challenges middle and high school students to design, build, and fly a rocket that meets rigorous altitude and flight duration parameters through a series of certified, qualifying launches. This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, the requirements include safely carrying three raw eggs representing the three Apollo 11 astronauts, to an altitude of exactly 856 feet (Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon at 8:56 p.m. Houston time) and returning Earth under at least two parachutes with a total flight duration of between 43 to 46 seconds.

TARC takes the students through the whole engineering lifecycle, from planning and design to simulation, production and post-production problem resolution and re-design where necessary. This year, the students used a variety of materials and techniques to address the challenge. They made their rocket airframe out of carbon fiber and 3D printed many of the components that they had designed themselves. They conducted over 50 launches over the course of the season in preparation for qualification flights and the National Fly-Off.

To learn more about TARC and track the progress of the St. Monica’s Team this weekend, please visit rocketcontest.org.