North Harbour News : April 23rd 2015
YOUR PLACE, YOUR PAPER Thursday, April 23, 2015 ‘We have lift off’ By DELWYN DICKEY FOUR teens are into rocket science. The year 11 Kristin School friends gave their gray matter a serious workout while also having the time of their lives during the school holidays. They launched a model rocket 80 metres into the sky over the Auckland Domain as part of a full-on two-day space exploration project and also met some serious rocketry aficionados and a member of New Zealand’s burgeoning space industry. William Baker spotted a piece about the International Space Apps Challenge being held in Auckland on April 11 and 12 on the Kristin School newspage so talked friends Oliver Denny, Finley Campbell and Scott Hayson into signing up. This saw them camping at Baker’s home and catching the Devonport ferry to and from the event. This is the third year AUT University has joined with the United States Embassy to host the NASA and European Space Agency event in New Zealand, with Auckland one of 135 sites involved around the world. The two-day brainstorming event sees mostly university students, but also industry professionals, working on various earth and space exploration projects. Baker and his friends were the first secondary school students in Auckland to join the ‘‘hackathon’’. Coatesville resident Mark Mackay is an organiser, and with a daughter at Kristin, was keen to get college students involved. The former co-founder of Orcon’s IT skills have seen him become involved with the International Space University in Australia and Canada which is aimed at space professionals and postgraduate students, along with the KiwiSpace Foundation which encourages New Zealanders wanting to Project 42 participants include, from left, Kristin students Finley Campbell, Oliver Denny, William Baker, Scott Hayson along with Mechatronics Engineering student Ben Chang and software development engineer Will Leizerowicz with the electron rocket and command panel. command consol to launch a model of Rocket Lab’s Electron space rocket. Auckland-based Rocket Lab has backing from United States aerospace, defence, security and advanced technology company Lockheed Martin and plans on launching their rocket Electron from New Zealand later this year. Designed to put small satellites into low Earth orbit more cheaply than currently possible, Electron’s innovative Rutherford rocket engine uses 3D printed components and a new electric propulsion cycle. Baker has a strong inter- Organiser Mark Mackay with a model of the Mars Curiosity Rover at Motat. work in space industries. Baker and his friends initially decided to try and get youngsters more interested in launches by making a display for familiar computer game KSP as a project. But it got a lot more ambitious when software development engineer Will Leizerowicz and Alex Heffert from the New Zealand Rocketry Association, and mechatronics engineering student Ben Chang joined their team Project 42. Now with some seriously ramped up skills they decided to develop a prelaunch programme and YOUR CHILDREN ARE AMAZING ALREADY. WE JUST HELP THEM PROVE IT. est in space and electronics, belongs to Kristin’s coding club, and eventually hopes to get involved with aerospace engineering as a career. Campbell is also looking at developing his interest in astronomy, engineering and physics towards a future career. After meeting industry professionals during the challenge and having Avinash Rao talk to them about launch procedures, they are The model Electron rocket takes off at the Auckland Domain, reaching 80 metres more optimistic they will be able to stay in New Zealand to do this. Rao is now the guidance, navigation and control engineer for Rocket Labs and did a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechatronics Engineering at Canterbury University, with his career so far New Zealand based. A judge of the event, Rao says the four lads weren’t out of their depth. ‘‘They were intelligent and interested – the type you’d expect to see at a Space Apps Challenge,’’ he says. Along with the thrill of them seeing their countdown procedure work perfectly and the rocket powering up into the Auckland sky, Project 42 took out the Peoples Choice award with their project. Denny had the least tech- nical background in the group but his acting skills and confidence made him the ideal choice for presenting their project on video. ❚ Go to http://spaceapps.nz/ for 2015 International Space Apps Challenge video presentations. 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April 16th 2015