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Tharptown prepares for launch

Schools across the country are preparing to send in their final qualifying scores for this year’s Team America Rocketry Challenge, and three teams from Tharptown High School are hard at work perfecting their launches.

Qualifying scores for the competition are due April 8. Tharptown has faced some challenges getting ready for this competition, mainly the unpredictable weather Alabama has been facing.

“This year has been really hard,” said team sponsor Marsha Inmon said. She said the teams have had to reschedule launches because of rain earlier in the semester and now the strong winds that have been blowing through Franklin County.

The rules for this year’s competition are also different. This year TARC is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, America’s first moon landing, and the 100th anniversary of the Aerospace Industries Association. To do that, TARC is requiring each team’s rocket to be able to safely carry three eggs to represent the people who were on the spaceship, and each team’s rocket has to reach an altitude of 856 feet, which represents the time the moon landing occurred.

Each rocket’s flight time can only last 43-46 seconds.

According to THS Luna Tech 2’s team captain Greyson Studdard, it takes trial and error to make a rocket that meets those specifications. Students have had to collect data from each launch to try to get a successful low score that can qualify for the challenge.

“I’ve learned a lot from this because of the hands-on experience,” said team member Brayden Malone, who said he enjoys learning about STEM and leadership through being on the rocketry team.

Studdard’s team recently saw victory at a rocketry competition at the University of North Alabama, where Luna Tech 2 placed second against 14 other teams.

“It was a good feeling knowing that we were still able to place second even though we had an issue with one of our rail buttons early on,” said Studdard.

Inmon said she was proud to see her students working as a team to fix that problem and successfully finish out the competition. “They really impressed me,” she said. “They came together and started working, and I was so proud of them.”

Luna Tech 1 and Luna Tech 3 also did well at UNA.

“Everybody did good. I’m proud of our teams,” said team member Danielle Cassel.

It will be a waiting game after April 8 as they and every other participating team anticipate the announcement results from TARC.


Luna Tech 1:

  • Annslee Bottoms
  • Perla Chavez
  • Destin Martin
  • Presley Laster
  • Lydia Henderson

Luna Tech 2:

  • Greyson Studdard
  • Grace Beard
  • Brayden Malone
  • Danielle Cassel

Luna Tech 3:

  • Ty Martin
  • Bernardo Castillo
  • Christian Franco