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The Terrier-Orion rocket being launched at sunrise. The two payload stages are red.
Terrier-Orion rocket

UW Rocket Science Class Successfully Launch Experiments to Space on NASA Rocket

July 03. 2009 -Contact: Paul Johnson, 307-766-6150;

Video of the Launch

Nearly 100 university instructors and students from 21 states saw their experiments rise to the sky at 5:30 a.m. on the morning of June 26 with the successful launch of a NASA suborbital sounding rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. During the past week, the students have been at Wallops preparing their experiments through a week-long RockOn/RockSat workshop.

The two-stage Terrier-Orion rocket carried the experiments to an altitude of 73 miles. The experiments were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean and the students successfully retrieved data from their experiments.

Senior undergraduates taking "Rocket Science" at the University of Wyoming, taught by Professor Paul Johnson, were participants. Professor Johnson (UW Dept. of Physics and Astronomy) and senior engineering and physics students: Anthony Allais (Rock Springs), Kyle Fox (Laramie), Sean King (Casper), Jeff Parkins (Cheyenne), James Richey (Loveland), and Jacob Thatcher (Laramie) traveled to Wallops to launch two payloads, testing innovative electrical, computer, and mechanical payload designs. Four other students, Erich Lichtfuss (Loveland), Luke Voss (Laramie), Justin Thornton (Littleton), and Anne-Marie Suriano (Auburn Hills, Michigan), participated in the design and fabrication phases of the project. All of the University of Wyoming experiments were designed and built by student teams from basic parts with their own designs, with consulting from Professors Scott Morton (UW Mechanical Engineering) and Stanley Legowski (Electrical Engineering). Several of the engineering students stated that "We've taken a lot of engineering courses, but this is the first time that we put it all together and really learned how to be an engineer."

The program is conducted in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia with support from NASA. Travel support was provided by the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, the Departments of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, the University of Wyoming Foundation, the College of Engineering, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the College of Arts and Sciences. The purpose of the Rocket Science Class is to teach engineering and science students how to work together independently in multidisciplinary teams to develop an experiment that will successfully fly into space.

Access to photos provided on request to

machine shop

The mechanical parts to the rocket experiments being fabricated in the machine shop. Left to right: Dr. Scott Morton, Shawn King, Paul Johnson, Luke Voss, and Erich Lichtfuss.

control room

Kyle Fox and James Richey in the Control Center at NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

Justin Thorton

Justin Thornton holding the two UW experiments, ready to be mounted in the flight canister. The University of Minnesota experiment is yet to be mounted on the middle tray.

Group with payload

The upper part of the rocket, after recovery. Shown here is the nose cone and the upper payload (red) containing the UW experiment, among others. Behind the payload are (front row l to r) James Richey, Jeffrey Parkins, Anthony Allais (back row l to r) Kyle Fox, Dr. Paul Johnson, Jacob Thatcher, and Shawn King.

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