The Tuloso-Midway High School Aeroscience Program, consisting of two first-year classes and one second-year class, joined hundreds of friends, families and curious onlookers at Rockets 2010 from April 22-25 on the Stewart Ranch north of Fredericksburg.

The four-day event held high drama for the 1,000 high school students who had worked all year designing and building their rockets in the SystemsGo Aeroscience program. First-year students sent one-pound payloads to one mile high. Second-year teams built rockets designed to go transonic reaching altitudes of up to 12,000 feet.

One of those transonic teams was T-M's Team Mach 1 led by seniors Dustin Rowland, Payne Neessen, Marcus Kellogg, Clint Wallace, Juan Fitzpatrick, and Sebastian Boltz. The Mach 1 Team designed a 5-foot long, 4-inch diameter, 12-pound rocket, powered by a Hybrid L-Class Motor. The hardy design appeared to easily handle the stress of transonic flight, becoming the first T-M rocket to meet and exceed the speed of sound.

Last year's mach attempt was shredded by the sonic shockwave. Lessons learned over the past three years significantly contributed to this year's success.

T-M's first team to launch was led by Jesse Hinojosa and senior Aaron Munoz, along with team members, Kevin Crow, Daniel Garza, Ramsey Gonzales, Richard Narvaez, Brian Ortiz, David Trevino and Matthew Willoughby. Team Up in Smoke was the inaugural launch for the entire event and was nearly perfect as GPS data showed the rocket one mile high at apogee, the highest point reached.

Unfortunately the laws of physics require an object to descend as fast as it climbed if the object remains aerodynamically intact. Thus, Team Up in Smoke found their 88-inch rocket buried 60 inches deep into the hill country soil, impacting at nearly 500 mph.

On-board electronic systems were supposed to break the aerodynamic form at apogee, then deploy a parachute approximately 1,500 feet above the ground. Whether it was a mechanical or electrical error is something Team Up in Smoke will spend the rest of the year figuring out.

T-M's final launch was by Team Mile High, led by Joe McGuire along with team members Jordan Colmenero, William Crook, Ryan Esteves, Mike Harper, Daniel Lopez and Ryan McFaddin. Team Mile High had a material failure shortly after launch as a fin was ripped from the side of the vehicle.

This asymmetric condition resulted in some exciting aerobatic flight about 1,000 feet in the air. Team Mile High's recovery system was flawless however, as their rocket drifted slowly back to earth under a billowing blue and red parachute.

The T-M crews have been busy sorting out the data from their flights as they reconstruct the event in order to gleam lessons learned. T-M's Aeroscience Instructor, Chris Schulz, said he was pleased with efforts of the teams and was sure they learned several important life skills along the way.

"Although not all goals were reached, the primary goal of intense planning, demanding teamwork and engineering design, development, and construction was exceeded by all crews, I am very proud of the students' diligence, creativity, ingenuity and imagination," Schulz said.

A link to a gallery and videos of the T-M efforts can be found at http://tuloso-midway.webs.com.

Also on hand at Rockets 2010 were representatives from aerospace industry and higher education, including representatives from Texas A&M, Texas Tech Hill Country, Kettering University and NASA.

The SystemsGo Aeroscience program was developed over 10 years by Brett Williams, a technology teacher at Fredericksburg High School.

To learn more about Ignite, visit www.igniteeducation.org or call (830) 997-3567.