LOOKS CAN be deceptive. At just a few inches, Typhoon may look small but it lives up to its name once fired up. “It can shoot up to a height of 300 feet and more,” says Divyanshu Poddar as he holds up a miniature model rocket in his hand. Come next week and Poddar, co-founder, Rocketeers, is looking to send a couple of dozen Typhoons, hand-assembled by students of classes 9 to 12, shooting up into space at the first-of-its-kind model rocketry festival in the country.
The festival has been jointly organised by the International Space Society (ISS), an international non-profit, educational and scientific organisation specialising in space advocacy, and Rocketeers, India’s first model rocketry agency co-founded by ex-ISRO scientists in collaboration with Dikshant Global School, Zirakpur.
The two-day festival, which will roll out on December 18 on the school’s grounds, will give participating students from classes 9 to 12 an opportunity to not just build a prototype but assemble their own model rockets, launch them into space, and have a former ISRO expert — Suresh Naik, former group director, ISRO, and chairman, ISS — at hand to answer queries and offer guidance. Students from over 100 schools from the region have been invited to the festival.
“There is a lot of buzz about aero-science these days but students aren’t fully aware of the possibilities. During this festival, Rocketeers will conduct a workshop which will, for the first time in India, introduce solid black powder fuel- powered model rockets to students to build, learn, fly and experiment with,” says Naik, adding that the students will get to put to practice physics and maths lessons they learn in school.
“At ISS we have been conducting interactive sessions with students and talking to them about space science and the achievements of ISRO. With this workshop that includes do-it-yourself kits, we are hoping to take learning to a new level,” says Naik.
The festival will teach students how to build and fly model rockets, use launchers and remote ignition systems as well as understand engineering principles to design any rocket. “Our main goal is to ensure that each child is able to take that leap from learning theory to applying theory and demonstrate how practical way of education can do wonders. Apart from creating awareness about career options in space industry, we emphasise that students understand the link and appreciate the math and physics and their real-world applications,” explains Poddar, a graduate in aerospace engineering who founded Rocketeers a year ago with his classmate Gagan Agrawal who is currently a scientist with ISRO.
“The model rocket kits have been tested for safety and we undertake all necessary precautions. The aim is to make this model rocketry festival an annual feature in the country and also encourage students to participate in contests later,” says Poddar.
The workshop fee per student is Rs 2,300 (personal kit) and Rs 1,600 (for a kit shared between three students). The workshop duration is 16 hours spread over two days.