On 6 Feb. 2018, RAHS students were able to view SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch by livestream, demonstrating students and faculty enthusiasm towards commercial rocketry and space exploration.
RAHS Principal Therese Tipton encouraged teachers to show the launch live during class. She believes that SpaceX has a great amount of innovation and potential for the future.
“Many years ago, it was a huge deal for space launches to be televised and for schools to show these launches to their students,” said Tipton. “It reinforced that this incredible experience of watching a man-made rocket take-off into space was seen as an inspiration – a testament to what the human mind and innovation can achieve.”
Tipton recognizes the unique aspects of the Falcon and what makes it stand out compared to previous efforts into space.
“The last heavy rocket, the Saturn V (designed to take humans to the moon), was retired in 1973,” said Tipton. “The Falcon Heavy is seen as the new wave of potential human travel into space.”
Tipton believes that these types of events, such as this launch, directly correlate with the aviation and aerospace theme of RAHS
“This launch was also a little exciting in that Elon Musk included his own payload – an ‘astronaut’ driving a Tesla!” said Tipton. “As the premier aviation and aerospace high school, we want to be able to expose students to all of the possibilities for their future, including rocket launches of this magnitude.”
Tipton is passionate about the topic of space exploration, and sees great purpose in SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket.
“Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket ever launched and it was created for the purpose of lifting ‘past the bonds of Earth’ and putting human beings and cargo onto other celestial bodies such as Mars,” said Tipton. “As the heaviest rocket ever launched, it presented a perfect opportunity to be shown via live streaming.”
Tipton is optimistic in future efforts, and is anticipating to show future SpaceX launches in class.
“We will definitely monitor future launches with the goal of having students be able to see the wonder of science and engineering at work,” said Tipton.
Sophomore student Nick Ankuta has a fascination with SpaceX and feels this launch is unique in comparison with governmental efforts in the field of space exploration. To Ankuta, these new launches have serious potential.
“This is commercial space flight, which is something that has not been the case in the past; it has always been governmental efforts,” said Ankuta, “and I feel like this is really representing the people taking charge of their interest in space flight and colonization.”
Previously, efforts such as the Apollo missions to explore space have been effectively put on hold, but now private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are competing to succeed in the area, and the motivation is beginning to increase again.
“Space exploration is not just like some scientific [dream],” said Ankuta. “It’s something that is really coming into the world as an avenue for not only a raw scientific feat, but also logistically something we can do to better our lives.”
Sophomore student Max Mellroth saw the launch during his history class and believes that it was beneficial for students to view the launch in class, and compares the event with previous historical examples of space exploration.
“I think it is very beneficial. For example, classes of the 1960s showed the Apollo missions,” said Mellroth, “classes [during the] 1990s and 2000s showed the space shuttle missions so why shouldn’t we?”
Mellroth recognizes the significance of this particular launch and believes it has true potential for scientific development.
“This was the first launch of the Falcon Heavy which is the rocket that is supposed to take us to Mars,” said Mellroth,” so this proved that we could make it to Mars with the rockets that we have.”