Pupils aim for the sky in rocket competition

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Five teams of Manx secondary school students are aiming for the sky as they enter a national rocket-building competition, with help from local engineering and aerospace firms.

Three teams from St Ninian’s High School and one each from Ballakermeen and Castle Rushen High Schools will attempt to build a rocket that will launch and safely return to earth two raw hen’s eggs as part of the UK Aerospace Youth Rocketry Challenge.

Local firms RLC Ronaldsway, Swagelok, SES, Cavendish Trust, Carrick Consulting and ManSat have each agreed to sponsor one of the teams, who will go head-to-head in a Manx regional heat before the winners travel to compete in the UK national competition in May.

The top prize in the challenge is the chance to compete at the Farnborough International Air Show against winning students from America and France, plus an all-expenses paid aerospace trip to Paris and Toulouse and a £1,000 cash prize for their school.

First run in 2006, the challenge is the largest model rocket showcase in the UK and aims to inspire students to enter the world of aerospace and science. As well as preserving their precious cargo, the teams earn points for achieving the target altitude of 825 feet and an overall flight duration of between 48 and 50 seconds, making for a difficult engineering challenge.

Howard Quayle MHK, the Department of Economic Development’s Political Member with responsibility for the Space sector said:

‘I am sure the students involved will benefit not only from taking part in such a highly technical challenge but also by gaining valuable insight into the opportunities the aerospace and space sectors can offer right here on their doorstep.

‘The job prospects in the Isle of Man for skilled engineers are excellent: the industry is creating 80 new jobs a year and so the potential for the island’s young people in this high-tech industry is very exciting. I am delighted that local businesses are supporting the next generation of potential engineers and scientists in this way to take part in this innovative competition.

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