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East Aurora Rocket Club students ready to compete at NASA's National Rocketry Finals

Posted at 11:30 PM, Apr 21, 2023

EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WKBW) — East Aurora Rocket Club students are working countless hours to get ready to launch the next stage of NASA’S National Rocketry Competition.

The group of six students who call themselves “The Freeloaders” are shooting for the stars while they were one of eight high schools in the nation to make it to the competition.

“NASA? Is this actually real? Because we’re just high schoolers, most of us are seniors and one junior. We’re so young, but yet doing so much,” says Thomas Reichert Jr., Club President of East Aurora Rocket Club. “Over the past nine months. We’ve actually been working with NASA Student Launch Initiative so we’re one of eight high schools that actually completed the program and went down to Huntsville, Alabama to launch with NASA.”

These students worked more than three thousand hours just to put several of the rockets together.

“It was challenging at times because I mean we put in so much work in this whole entire project," says Oliver Saczuk. "I mean this entire thing was so challenging, but the fact that we’re here now and we have this full rocket and competed in Huntsville Alabama is truly special.”

But before they went to Huntsville, they had to put one of their rockets through a test run, and things didn’t exactly go as planned.

Their rocket club advisor tells me his students picked up the pieces and pushed themselves to not give up.

“It hit a tree at 280 miles an hour. So that was the moment they could’ve quit,” says Ryan Wall, Technology Teacher at East Aurora High School. “And I saw the look on their faces and I’m really proud they didn’t.”

And these students are ready for their next rocket launch, to compete for that $100,000 prize.

“It takes a special group to get through from what they accomplished so really proud of all of their accomplishments,” says Wall.

Those six students will compete against other teams at the National Finals on May 20th in Virginia, just outside Washington D.C.