National Association of Rocketry
National Association of Rocketry
Educator's Newsletter
 October 2015
In this issue
First Class of NAR Certified Teachers

NAR has certified the first two educators through the NAR Rocket Teacher Certification Program or 'narTcert.' Congratulations to Michael Thompson of New Hampshire and Vincent Giovannone of New York who completed the program that trains teachers online to build and launch a simple model as well as receive formal recognition. Michael used rocketry to explain Newton's Laws, while Vincent taught data collection by measuring flight duration and altitude. There are twenty-three others currently registered who are learning the material and planning a lesson demonstration with a rocket. Find details at this link  or go to and on the ' Education Resources ' tab click on ' Welcome to narTcert .'

The new program works and we want more participants to benefit from this NAR service. You can register and start your training, too, and get certified just like Michael and Vincent did. 
Aim high!
Vince Huegele
NAR Education Chairman
TARC logo2016 Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) Competition

 Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) is an aerospace design and engineering event for teams of US secondary school students (7th through 12th grades) run by the NAR and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). Teams can be sponsored by schools or by non-profit youth organizations such as Scouts, 4-H, or Civil Air Patrol (but not the NAR or other rocketry organizations). The goal of TARC is to motivate students to pursue aerospace as an exciting career field, and it is co-sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers, Estes Industries, the Department of Defense, and NASA.
The first thirteen Team America Rocketry Challenges, held in 2003 through 2015, were the largest model rocket contests ever held. Co-sponsored by the NAR and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the thirteen events together attracted 8,955 high-school teams made up of a total of over 60,000 students from all 50 states. These students had a serious interest in learning about aerospace design and engineering through model rocketry. The top 100 teams each year came to a final fly-off competition in mid May near Washington, DC, to compete for $100,000 in prizes and a free trip to either the Paris or the Farnborough air show in Europe. These teams were selected based on the scores reported from qualification flights that they conducted locally throughout the US.

Are you ready to accept the challenge? 2016 Team America Rocketry Challenge registration is now open on our newly redesigned website, Teams may register anytime between now and December 4, 2015.
The 2016 Challenge brings some new twists to the competition. Rockets must carry two raw eggs (one placed vertically and one placed horizontally) to 850 feet and back safely in 44-46 seconds. This is higher and faster than last year, so make sure you protect those eggs! For the first time we're also not specifying the required recovery mechanism, so get creative.  The top scoring teams in the first round of flights at the National Finals will face another challenge: new 825 foot and 43-45 second targets for a second round flight. This year is going to be tricky, but I know that teams will once again deliver innovative solutions.

We have a few important announcements below:
Engineering Notebook Competition
We're launching a new optional Engineering Notebook Competition this year. Check out the details here. Even if you don't submit yours for the contest, we encourage you to keep an engineering notebook.  Building an engineering notebook will help you keep organized and analyze your data. Entries will be judged by engineers from TARC sponsor companies and the winning team will be awarded a cash prize. The TARC Outreach Competition will also continue this season.
If you're on LinkedIn, consider join the new TARC Alumni Group.  Use the group to stay in touch with other TARC alumni and share what you're doing.  Once we reach a critical mass, we'll also invite recruiters from aerospace companies to join the group and post job and internship opportunities, so you don't want to miss out!
Feedback was so positive last year that we've decided to continue and expand the webinar series for this fall. Stay tuned for details.
That's all we have for now. If you want to stay up to date on what's happening with TARC 2016, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

The entry forms, contestant handbook, rules, and other details about TARC 2016 are posted on the AIA's website. The most recent version of the rules is posted at the bottom of this page.  Event registration is open from September 1 until December 4, 2105.

NAR 4322
NAR TARC Manager 





The Solar System Ambassadors Program

The Solar System Ambassadors Program is a public outreach program designed to work with motivated volunteers across the nation. These volunteers communicate the excitement of JPL's space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries to people in their local communities.


The Solar System Ambassadors Program builds on and expands the outstanding efforts undertaken by the Galileo mission since 1997. Because of the success of the original Galileo Ambassadors program, JPL missions exploring Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Asteroids, Comets, Earth, the Sun and the Universe now come together to expand the program's scope to the Solar System and beyond.


To arrange for a Solar System Ambassador event in your community, click on Meet the Ambassador, select your state or territory and review the entries. Ambassadors furnish short biographical statements for the purpose of detailing their areas of interest and expertise. Following the biography is a list of past events conducted by the Ambassador to further aid in decision making. Inquiries about an Ambassador's availability should be made by sending an email directly to the individual.


Check the "Calendar of Events" section as well to see if an Ambassador event will be occurring in your local community. For a listing of Solar System Ambassadors by name, visit the Directory of Ambassadors.

UNA Rocketry Challenge

The University of North Alabama and the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) are  pleased to present the University of North Alabama (UNA) Rocketry Challenge. This event will work with high schools to prepare and support student teams for regional and state competitions.

Launch Day is planned to take place in March 2016. Teams will form during the fall and winter and prepare for the competition.

A schedule of events can be found  here, and information for those who wish to support the program as sponsors can be found  here.

Civil Air Patrol
New Jersey Wing (NJWG) 
On 18 July 2015, the New Jersey Wing (NJWG) offered a   Model Rocketry Train-The-Trainer Course at Historic Hangar One, Lakehurst Naval Air Station. 
The Course Included: 
*Guidance on teaching the Redstone, Titan, & Saturn Stages of the program. 
*Discussions, Handouts, and Links to help you succeed.
*Range Operations:  How to run an efficient and safe Launch Range.
*Build AND Launch your own rocket at this course! 
Senior members participating in the program were provided with their own Alpha Rocket to build during the morning classroom session and A, B & C engines out on the range later that day for the actual launches.
Long time NAR member (36 years) and avid rocket enthusiast, Col Steve Tracy (NJWG Commander) and NJWG Director of Aerospace Education, Lt. Col. Michael Castania provided the instruction.
In the Fall, the NJWG will once again offer the basic course in addition to inviting the first group back to launch their two stage rockets and work on advanced range safety skills.
It is hoped that by next summer, the NJWG will be able to sponsor a wing wide rocket launch/competition open to all of our cadets and senior members.

Connecticut Wing (CTWG) 
For eight years the Connecticut Wing (CTWF) has sponsored a Commander's Cup Rocketry Competition.   The trophy cup was donated by Col Peter Jensen, CTWG commander at that time.

The event is run with the assistance of the CATO Rocketry Club (CATO), National Association of Rocketry Section 581 .  T he rules for the event are tailored so Flight One and Flight Two satisfy CAP's Titan and  Saturn construction stages for award of the rocketry badge.  

Rockets and the Maker Movement
Have you heard of the Maker movement? If you haven't, just imagine a classroom where students learn by doing hands-on experimentation and design with trial and error, building and launching model rockets and creating miniature houses with working electricity. Picture an environment where a kid's natural instinct to explore our world and solve problems is supported through invention and play. 
The Maker movement was inspired by MAKE Magazine's annual Maker Faire. The Maker Faire is the "world's largest show and tell." Since the first Faire, this movement has spread through communities, businesses and into education. 10 high schools created "makerspaces" in a pilot program in California, offering students a chance to try welding, woodworking, machining, rockets and robotics among other Maker skills.
Is the Maker movement just another trend or is it here to stay? Is it just a fancy label for what teachers already know - that kids learn better through hands-on, self-directed learning? Most teachers are already using some Maker elements in their classrooms when their students build models, rockets and volcanoes, or make puppets for putting on puppet shows. These types of activities have gone on for many years in schools, and the Maker movement is a perfect fit for these activities.
And here's another thought: by encouraging people to make things by hand, the Maker movement may be one of the most important ways to improve STEM education in the U.S. Why? Because it works outside of the realm of standardized testing and everything associated with it. The movement behind Maker Faires and MAKE Magazine should be one of the keys to helping kids discover science, technology, engineering and math in an exciting hands-on way.
How do model rockets fit into the Maker movement and STEM? Model rockets are a perfect fit, because you're building a model rocket (making it by hand with hands-on learning), launching it and conducting lots of experiments with it. Building, experimenting and playing are powerful ways to learn - and whether building and launching rockets are done at school or in youth groups, kids need lots more of this. 
Favorite Maker resources:
Maker Faire Education Outreach: Learn how to start a Maker Faire at you school.
Makerspace: Explains how to set up a "makerspace" in your school. Website where young Makers can share what they have created and meet other Makers. An invention kit that lets students play video games with Play-Doh, make music with bananas and more.

Model Rocket Books
Make: Rockets by  Mike Westerfield
A new  comprehensive discussion  book on why rockets work and how to make them. It is much like Stine's Handbook of Model Rocketry but it has more detail and technical content.    If you are looking to learn why and how rockets work, you will enjoy reading the very clear explanations of the physical concepts behind them. If you are the more hands on type, you can get right down to the business of building and seeing the action because it is all about making the rockets. Author Mike Westerfield says, "This is the rocket book I wished I had in high school," so teachers and students should take notice, there is a lot in it for them. Order an  e-copy or a print version !
Rocketry: Investigate the Science and Technology of Rockets and Ballistics with 25 Projects  b Carla Mooney

Grade Level 4-6
Ages 9-12

There are many rocket books available but few are out as real primers geared toward the young reader or a total rocket newbie.  Rocketry: Investigate the Science and Technology of Rockets and Ballistics introduces elementary level students to the fascinating world of rocketry and aerodynamics. Readers discover the history of rocket development, from the earliest fire arrows in China to modern-day space shuttles, as well as the main concepts of rocketry, including how rockets are launched, move through the atmosphere, and return to earth safely. Exploring the science behind rocket flight, kids learn how the forces of thrust, gravity, lift, and drag interact to determine a rocket's path. It all leads up to asking "what's next?" which would be NAR rocketry.

Combining hands-on activities with physics, chemistry, and mathematics, Rocketry brings fun to learning about the world of rocket science. Entertaining illustrations and fascinating sidebars illuminate the topic and bring it to life, while Words to Know highlighted and defined within the text reinforce new vocabulary. Projects include building a pneumatic rocket and launcher, determining the role of fins in rocket stability, and testing a rocket recovery system. Additional materials include a glossary, and a list of current reference works, websites, and Internet resources.
Sally Ride Online STEM Professional Development Program
To help educators effectively teach a STEM-based curriculum in the classroom, the Sally Ride Science Academy launched an online professional development training program.
The convenient, affordable online format provides elementary teachers of grades 3-8 and school counselors with online STEM training in background preparation, classroom activities, and teaching strategies, and lets them progress through the same key topics with discussions and project-based work moderated by course instructors at the traditional academy.
The online training program includes real-time tools allow users to interact with the instructor and to collaborate with other teachers. The program also features a notification tool to remind teachers about class discussions and assignments and an interface designed to provide easy access to online sessions, including videos, e-books, integrated media recordings, and virtual labs. 
"We know most students are engaged and curious about science and math in the early elementary grades," said Sally Ride Science CEO Sheryle Bolton. "But too many students -- particularly girls and under -- represented minorities -- lose interest in those disciplines by the end of middle school. Economists tell us that more than 80 percent of all jobs in the coming decades will require some kind of STEM background, so it is essential for our nation's future that we help prepare students to seize this opportunity."
School districts in Alaska, Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. have access to this new program. Check with your district to see if it is available for you.
STEM Grants
Many companies offer grants to help provide the needed funds to bring core STEM curricula into the classroom. The Foundation for Rural Education and Development and the NEA foundation are two such companies. For a list of forty-eight other companies, please visit the Estes Educator "Find Funding" page.
Small Satellites for Secondary Students (S4)  
In partnership with AeroPac  and the Endeavour Institute, the Education and Public Outreach group at Sonoma State University (SSU) has just finished a week-long training at NASA Dryden's Aero Institute. Fourteen middle and high school teachers and four Girl Scout leaders learned how to solder, build, test and program small experimental payloads that can be launched on high-power rockets (HPRs) or flown on tethered weather balloons. Small Satellites for Secondary Students, or S4,  fills an important "missing link" in NASA's educational pipeline between Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) and sounding rocket flights usually conducted by graduate students at research universities.
The S4 program participants have created an educator's guide and associated
videos, as well as a hardware, software and server platform for secondary students to create their own experiments, analyze, and share the data. Through S4, educators can build experimental payloads to fly on tethered weather balloons and/or rockets, enabling students to participate in the thrill of experimental design and implementation. The S4 program has created a hardware platform and software libraries are documented in an educator's guide and associated videos. This website also provides provides access to additional resources for the S4 community, including blog posts describing our progress on the project, links to software libraries, electrical schematics, and parts lists.

For more information about S4, please see:
For a draft Educator package with software and circuit please see:

Youth Scientists Impacting the Future
4-H youth are winning international rocketry competitions and using GIS technology to map a section of the Appalachian Trail. Their hands-on programs empower youth and provide them with opportunities to grow, learn, and become confident kids.

Model Rocketry Classes Begin October 20th!
Model rocketry classes are starting up again on October 20th. Classes are sponsored and supported by the Colorado Springs Rocket Society (COSROCS), a National Association of Rocketry (NAR) sectioned club, and Colorado's 4-H Model Rocketry Program; both organizations are non-profit and instruction is provided by skilled volunteers in the field of model rocketry. Classes are open to El Paso County youth ages 8 18 and follow the 4-H Model Rocketry Program's curriculum. Instructors Deanna and Les Mann are both members of COSROCS and NAR, and are in their 23rd and 24th year of teaching the Colorado 4-H Model Rocketry curriculum. Mr. Mann holds a Level 2 High Power Certification through both NAR and Tripoli (a high power rocketry association).

Project classes are scheduled for the first Saturday of every month with the exception of October, and are held at Fire Station #20 at the corner of Rangewood & Dublin. Classes are divided up by unit and skill level:
Beginner Classes-Units 1-3-meet from 1:00-4:00*
Advance Classes-Units 4 & 6-meet from 2:30-5:30*.

*November 3 and April 6 classes meet from 1:30-4:30 (Beg.) and 3:00-6:00 (Adv.) respectfully.

Class dues are $7.00 per participant for the year and are payable to Les & Deanna Mann. The dues will pay for your rocket curriculum manual and various handouts received during the year. Participants are responsible for their own rocket supplies, tools and kits. Depending on the unit or skill level you enroll in, the rocket(s) you select, and supplies you may already own, your yearly cost can range from $30 - $120. The higher the skill level the more expensive the rocket kits can be. All classes consist of approximately 1½ hours of lesson and 1½ hours of construction time. Both Beginner and Advance classes are combined during the construction phase.

Beginner class topics include: Model Rocketry Introduction, Building Basics, History & Science of Rocketry, Rocket Flight Stability, Range & Launch Safety, Rocket Motors & Rocket Flight, Recovery Systems, and Finishing Techniques.
Model rocketry project class registration begins now. Youth ages 8-13 are required to have a responsible adult/parent with them during the entire class. The first class is scheduled for October 20th. Space is limited so sign up now. Please contact Les and Deanna Mann for more information or to register for classes at 719-528-5969 or email: [email protected].



NAR Instructional Video

Small NAR Logo


Several years ago the NAR and Aerospace Industries Association produced a one-hour instructional video "How to Build and Fly a Model Rocket" in support of student teams in the Team America Rocketry


Challenge student rocket contest.  Originally only available in DVD format, this useful resource and much more are now available.

TIP--Planning Considerations: 

While model rocketry offers a rich set of learning experiences, teachers should keep a few items in mind as they plan and conduct lessons.

Construction Safety

Be aware that many children have never used an X-acto knife or equivalent.  It is best to hold a separate learning session on knife safety rather than during a model building session.  Another alternative for untrained youth is to completely eliminate the need for a hobby knife during the build or have an adult pre-cut parts needing a hobby knife before the session begins.  If you do choose to have students use hobby knives, limit the number being used at any given time and closely supervise their use.

Launch Safety

Model rocketry was created in the late 1950's as a means by which non-professional individuals could build and fly their own rocket powered models.  The hobby was structured to safely pursue an activity that has a potential for personal injury and property damage.  The use of manufactured motors to minimize the mixing and handling of propellants was a major factor in model rocketry's safety success.  Safety procedures for the construction and operation of the models, based on aerospace industry practices, were another factor in this excellent safety record.

The primary safety officers are the Range Safety Officer (RSO) and the safety check-in officer.  The RSO is responsible for safe operation of the rocketry range. The safety check-in officer is responsible for verification of the vehicle flight-worthiness.  He will inspect the vehicles for structural integrity, systems condition (e.g. recovery system, motor restraint), motor certification, and dynamic properties (e.g. center of gravity, center of pressure). 

NAR Sections all over the country hold numerous sport launches each year, at which you are welcome to come fly.  The Section takes care of providing the permits, field, launch equipment, and range organization and safety; just bring your rockets, motors, and flight supplies and join in the fun!  With sport launches accounting for over twelve million rocket flights every year nationwide, the NAR offers a number of services for the sport modeler. 

Civil Air Patrol  

Aerospace Education Library
If you enjoy learning about aviation and aircraft or launch vehicles and spacecraft as well as the science behind all of this.  Take a look at all the available educational resources on their site!  Want more?  Check this one out!!

Space History

7 November 1967 -- Surveyor 6 was the sixth lunar lander of the
American unmanned  Surveyor program to reach the surface of the  Moon.
  • Launched November 7, 1967, it landed on November 10, 1967.  Surveyor 6 landed on the Sinus Medii. Mass on landing: 299.6 kg (660.5 lb). A total of 30,027 images were transmitted to Earth.
This spacecraft was the fourth of the Surveyor series to successfully achieve a soft landing on the moon, obtain post landing television pictures, determine the abundance of the chemical elements in the lunar soil, obtain touchdown dynamics data, obtain thermal and radar reflectivity data, and conduct a Vernier engine erosion experiment. Virtually identical to Surveyor 5, this spacecraft carried a television camera, a small bar magnet attached to one footpad, and an alpha-scattering instrument as well as the necessary engineering equipment. It landed on November 10, 1967, in Sinus Medii, 0.49 degree in latitude and 1.40 degree w longitude ( selenographic coordinates) - the center of the moon's visible hemisphere. This spacecraft accomplished all planned objectives. The successful completion of this mission satisfied the Surveyor program's obligation to the Apollo project. On November 24, 1967, the spacecraft was shut down for the 2 week lunar night. Contact was made on December 14, 1967, but no useful data were obtained.
Lunar soil surveys were completed using photographic and  alpha particlebackscattering methods. A similar instruments, the  APXS, was used onboard several Mars missions.
In a further test of space technology Surveyor 6's engines were restarted and burned for 2.5 seconds in the first Lunar liftoff on November 17 at 10:32 UTC. This created 150 lbf (700 N) of thrust and lifted the vehicle 12 feet (4 m) from the Lunar surface. After moving west 8 ft (2.5 m) the spacecraft was once again successfully soft landed. The spacecraft continued functioning as designed.

November 30, 2015 marks 45 Years of Sounding Rockets at Wallops
On November 30, 1970  m anagement of the sounding rockets program was transferred from Goddard Space Flight Center to the Wallops Flight Center (later Wallops Flight Facility). The first mission launched after the program relocation was a Princeton University astrophysics payload, 4.267, flown from White Sands Missile Range on December 2, 1970. Principal Investigator, Dr. D.C. Morton, had launched a series of rockets starting in 1964 and this was his 14th mission using the Aerobee 150 vehicle. The scientific purpose of the flight was to photograph far-ultraviolet spectra of stars in the constellation Perseus to study stellar absorption lines, circumstellar absorption and emission line and interstellar absorption lines.
With the beginning of the space age rockets were quickly becoming mainstream vehicles to carry scientific payloads above the Earth's atmosphere. The Aerobee built by Aerojet was the second rocket * developed for the purpose of scientific measurements both within and outside of the atmosphere. The first version of the Aerobee was designed to carry a 68 kg payload to 60 km or above. The Aerobee 150 could carry approximately 100 kg to 200 km. At the end of the Aerobee program there were 10 versions of the vehicle.

In addition to launch vehicle development, the payload support systems also saw continued improvement during the early years of research flights. The first spectrophotometers were flown without attitude control systems in 1961 by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Stecher 4.011, and were mounted normal to the rockets roll axis with a very limited "time on target". Development of a threeaxis attitude control system by Space General Corporation (first science flight in 1966 by Morton and Spitzer) made it possible to point the instrument toward a specific target for longer periods. The Space General system could point the instrument within 3 degrees of the scientific target with a limit cycle jitter of +/- 15 arc minutes. 1)

The primary instruments for the Princeton sounding rocket flights from 1964 through 1970 were Schmidt cameras. 2)  These systems incorporate a full-aperture corrector for spherical mirrors. To facilitate UV spectrophotometry the correctors could be coated with layers of chemicals which enhanced the reflectance in the UV bands under study. Applying a coating of lithium-fluoride would enhance reflectance at wavelengths longer than 110 nm enabling study of Lyman alpha emission from the night sky. In a paper published in 1972 Dr. Morton describes the data processing from a June 1970 flight (4.271) as follows: "The Kodak far-ultraviolet film type 101-01 was used for all exposures. After the flight, the films were soaked in distilled water for 2 minutes and then developed at 68 deg F in D-19 for 6 minutes, except for the low resolution Scorpius exposure which was developed for only 4 minutes. The developing was monitored with a safe light and cut short on this one film which had a higher fog level as a result of either zero-order light from the horizon or zero- and first order Lyman alpha emission from the night sky. The intensity calibration was made by exposing strips of film for a range of times to a hydrogen lamp in a vacuum spectrograph and assuming reciprocity failure was absent." 

Overall the UV astronomy program was a great success. Among other achievements the Princeton rocket spectrograph obtained the first UV spectra with enough resolution to show the line features in stars other than the Sun. 3)
Today's sounding rocket scientists studying the Universe in the ultraviolet spectral range are following in the footsteps of Morton. An example of a current far-UV spectrograph is the Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph (CHESS), which gathers data in wavelengths between 102 and 160 nm. The Aerobee flight 4.267 had a slightly broader range 110 - 230 nm. Science targets for both payloads include stars in the Orion and Ophiuchus constellations. While science targets are the same much has changed in the capabilities of the program as well as the science instrumentation. The 4.267 payload is estimated to have weighed 300 lbs and reached an altitude of approximately 160 km **. The CHESS II payload weighs about 1,100 lbs and is predicted to fly to an altitude of 287 km. Pointing accuracy of the Star Tracker flying on CHESS is 0.5 arcseconds and Dr. France is not heading off to the darkroom to process film after the flight. CHESS has a state of the art micro-channel plate (MCP) detector, the echelle grating in CHESS uses an electronbeam lithography process to better control scatter, and a powered holographically-ruled cross disperser focuses the light onto a detector - things that probably would have been inconceivable in 1970. Where will sounding rockets be in another 45 years?

*The first sounding rocket was the WAC Corporal. 
**Exact weight and altitude cannot be confirmed for 4.267 but Princeton flew the same instrument system several times and the estimated weight and altitude given here are from flights 4.052 and 4.271. 
1) Blair D. Savage - Early ultraviolet spectroscopy from space 
2) Developed by Estonian-born optician Bernhard Schmidt Its concept is based on the unique property of spherical mirror with the aperture stop at the center of curvature to be free from off-axis aberrations. 
3) Sounding Rockets: Their Role in Space Research (1969)

16 November 1973--Skylab 4 was the last Skylab mission.


Gerald Carr, William Pogue, and Edward Gibson arrived aboard Skylab to find that they had company - three figures dressed in flight suits. Upon closer inspection, they found their companions were three dummies, complete with Skylab 4 mission emblems and name tags which had been left there by Al Bean, Jack Lousma, and Owen Garriott at the end of Skylab 3.

The all-rookie astronaut crew had problems adjusting to the same workload level as their predecessors when activating the workshop. Things got off to a bad start after the crew attempted to hide one astronaut's early space sickness from flight surgeons, a fact discovered by mission controllers after downloading onboard voice recordings. The crew's initial task of unloading and stowing the thousands of items needed for their lengthy mission also proved to be overwhelming. The schedule for the activation sequence dictated lengthy work periods with a large variety of tasks to be performed, and the crew soon found themselves tired and behind schedule.


As the activation of Skylab progressed, the astronauts complained of being pushed too hard. Ground crews disagreed; they felt that the astronauts were not working long enough or hard enough. During the course of the mission, this culminated in a radio conference to air frustrations. Following this, the workload schedule was modified, and by the end of their mission the crew had completed even more work than had been planned before launch. The experiences of the crew and ground controllers provided important lessons in planning subsequent manned spaceflight work schedules.

On Thanksgiving Day, Gibson and Pogue accomplished a 6 and a half hour spacewalk. The first part of their spacewalk was spent replacing film in the solar observatory. The remainder of the time was used to repair a malfunctioning antenna.

The crew reported that the food was good, but slightly bland. The crew would have preferred to use more condiments to enhance the taste of the food. The amount of salt they could use was restricted for medical purposes. The quantity and type of food consumed was rigidly controlled because of their strict diet.


Seven days into their mission, a problem developed in the Skylab attitude control gyroscope system, which threatened to bring an early end to the mission. Skylab depended upon three large gyroscopes, sized so that any two of them could provide sufficient control and maneuver Skylab as desired. The third acted as a backup in the event of failure of one of the others. The gyroscope failure was attributed to insufficient lubrication. Later in the mission, a second gyroscope showed similar problems, but special temperature control and load reduction procedures kept the second one operating, and no further problems occurred.


The crew spent many hours studying the Earth. Carr and Pogue alternately manned controls, operating the sensing devices which measured and photographed selected features on the Earth's surface. The crew also made solar observations, recording about 75,000 new telescopic images of the Sun. Images were taken in the X-ray, ultraviolet, and visible portions of the spectrum.

As the end of their mission drew closer, Gibson continued his watch of the solar surface. On January 21, 1974, an active region on the Sun's surface formed a bright spot which intensified and grew. Gibson quickly began filming the sequence as the bright spot erupted. This film was the first recording from space of the birth of a solar flare.

On December 13, the crew sighted Comet Kohoutek and trained the solar observatory and hand-held cameras on it. They gathered spectra on it using the  Far Ultraviolet Camera /Spectrograph. They continued to photograph it as it approached the Sun. On December 30, as it swept out from behind the Sun, Carr and Gibson spotted it as they were performing a spacewalk.

The crew also photographed the Earth from orbit. Despite instructions not to do so, the crew (perhaps inadvertently) photographed Area 51, causing a minor dispute between various government agencies as to whether the photographs showing this secret facility should be released. In the end, the picture was published along with all others in NASA's Skylab image archive, but remained unnoticed for years.

Skylab 4 completed 1,214 Earth orbits and four EVAs totaling 22 hours, 13 minutes. They traveled 34.5 million miles (55,500,000 km) in 84 days, 1 hour and 16 minutes in space.


Looking for a special rocket to highlight a particular aspect of your lesson plan?  Take a look at the following companies for some unusual ideas:

Fliskits  offers a wide variety of kits and services...From science fiction topics to a scale model of the world's first successful liquid fueled rocket was designed, built and flown by Robert H. Goddard Fliskits has you covered...To include an educational section (in the upper left hand corner of their web page) where you will find opportunities for lesson plans and discounts to educators.   

Odd'l Rockets

Whether you are just beginning to integrate rocketry into your curriculum or have been utilizing it for years, Odd'l Rockets offers something new for everyone.  From their latest renditions of the Little Green Man and Pigasus (pigs really do fly!) to the unique recovery of their Breakaway, Cyclone and Sputnik kits, you are sure to find something to stimulate learning.


If you are looking for a special sport flier, military scale replicas, scale sounding rockets or even multi-stage and cluster rockets, Rocketarium is the place.  You'll find a wide selection of model rockets, parts, and supplies; there's something for every lesson and every budget!


Aerospace Speciality Products

From competition kits to Scale replicas and educational kits, Aerospace Speciality Products will stir your imagination!  Their two-stage WAC Corporal replica can be built in two versions to accommodate your recovery field.  Looking for a small field scale option?  Check out their 13mm motor replica kits like the Sandia Sandhawk!

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