Taming American Sky

On May 12-13, the 15th finals of the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) took place near the Washington D.C, in The Plains, VA. TARC is known for being the largest rocketry competition with a prize fund of $100 000. In 2017, 812 teams registered for the contest that included 5000 students, the highest since its inaugural year in 2002. The event united students from all over USA. Teams arrived from 47 US states and even the Virgin Islands. The main goal of TARC is to encourage students to become more involved in STEM disciplines (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and increase interest in the aerospace industry.

Contest terms and rules change each year to challenge students to keep coming up with ingenious ideas and encourages fresh approaches to rocket design. This year:
A raw egg was used as a fragile payload for the rocket. Also, the rocket itself had to have 2 compartments that could each hold an egg.
The finals were held in 2 rounds. Round one was an elimination round that required each to launch their rocket to at least 775 feet (236 meters) and return it safely in 41 to 43 seconds without breaking the egg. Successful teams continued on to the second round, where they had to reach 800 feet (244 meters) and land the egg within 42-44 seconds.

The TARC Finals were especially exciting for Ukrainian rocketry, as event organizers, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), invited Ukrainian rocketeers to participate in the main event as special guests. A team from the Noosphere Engineering School, founded by the Honorary President of the Spacemodelling Sport Federation of Ukraine Max Polyakov, was chosen to represent Ukraine at the event. This team of young rocketeers already had experience in world-class competitions by participating in the 2016 FAI World Championships for Space Models in Lviv. Since TARC is exclusively for US contestants, our team of Valerii Bidovskyi, Bohdan Kovalov, Oleksandr Radchenko, Vladyslav Zhuravlov and their coach, Denys Khmil, was not eligible to compete for the prize fund, but launch their rockets and competed along side their American peers.

During the the exhilarating battle of rocket launches one team rose to the top and first place was taken by the team from Festus High School, Missouri. In addition to the grand prize of cash and scholarships, the team won the opportunity to represent the US at the International Rocketry Challenge during the Paris Air Show June 22-23.

The Ukrainian team also stood out from the crowd. Our rocketeers scored the highest in one of the secondary competitions – the Balsa Glider Competition. Each team had 30 minutes to build a glider with just balsa wood and a few provided components. Once done, the teams flew their gliders in a distance competition. Precise construction and teamwork allowed the Noospherians to record the longest flight by gliding 57 feet and 10 inches (17.6 meters) – a full 12 feet (3.6 meters) farther than their nearest US rival. The achievement was noted by the judges who complimented the team on their achievement, even though they could not be officially be granted the prize since they were not eligible.

Participation in such a large-scale, overseas competition was extremely educational for our rocketry sportsman. We believe that with the experience we gained, combined with the mutual effort of the Spacemodelling Sport Federation, the Noosphere Engineering School and its founder Max Polyakov, will help launch the Ukraine Rocketry Challenge and start a new phase in the rise of amateur rocketry in Ukraine.