Las Cruces – Today's successful launch of the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket for the New Mexico Second Annual Education Launch was greeted by cheers from students across the state of New Mexico as their payload experiments reached space, and tears of pride for the memory of a Farmington science and technology teacher who dreamed of this day. The launch took place at about 6:45 a.m. MDT.
Working together with partners UP Aerospace and Spaceport America, the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) sponsored the Education Launch to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs for New Mexico students.
Jerry Larson, President of UP Aerospace, the company that designed and operates the rocket, was excited by the launch. "The SL-4 performed flawlessly, reaching an altitude of 70 miles and speeds of 5.5 times the speed of sound," Larson reported. "After returning from space, the rocket landed within the target area in White Sands Missile Range. All in all, this looks to be a perfect flight."
"Today's launch is confirmation to New Mexico's students and the rest of the world that we are capable of delivering the goods when it comes to scientific development, aerospace research and intellectual capital," said Dr. Pat Hynes, Director of the NMSGC. "The objective of the Education Launch program is to provide applied curriculum-based education opportunities for New Mexico students. Successful launches like today's are just the beginning of a new era of educational space research in our state," said Hynes.
"As Spaceport America continues to move forward, it's gratifying to see another successful launch take flight, and to see the excitement in the faces of the students who launched their experiments today," said Rick Homans, Board Chairman of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA). " We congratulate the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, UP Aerospace, Lockheed Martin and the people who worked hard toward today's Education Launch."
The launch was dedicated to the memory of Debbie Prell, a Farmington science and technology teacher who died of breast cancer in 2005. Hynes made note of launch participants who wore special pink shirts in memory of Prell that read, 'Rocket Scientists are Tough Enough to Wear Pink' by adding, "The New Mexico Space Grant Consortium is honored to have had Debbie Prell as a partner, and we honor her memory by working with her endowment to continue her work."
The New Mexico Space Grant Consortium is a member of the congressionally funded National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program that is administered by NASA and sponsored by New Mexico State University. The program promotes lifelong learning in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as it pertains to space-related activities. The consortium supports a wide range of projects and scholarship opportunities, including the Student Launch Program. New Mexico students build multi-sensor electronic experiments that use the environment of sub-orbital space to further their hands-on scientific and engineering experience.