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rocket launch

Leaving the rail at White Sands Missile Range, the Brazoswood High School (TX) student -designed and built rocket blazes its way to a World Record altitude. Photo Credit US Army White Sands Missile Range

For Release: Sept 15, 2022

Brazoswood rocket exceeds 45,000 ft at White Sands Missile Range

Twenty-one students at Brazoswood High School have officially been notified that they set a new world record for altitude achieved by a high school student-designed and built hybrid-motor propelled rocket on June 26, 2022, at White Sands Missile Range.

[View Brazoswood HS launch video here]

The U.S. Army released official data that indicates the sounding vehicle–Horizon 1–reached 45,482 feet Above Ground Level (AGL). This surpassed the previous record of 36,100 feet achieved by students from Fredericksburg (TX) High School in 2000 with their Redbird 9 rocket.

“We are very proud! This is an amazing accomplishment for this group of Brazoswood High School students and for all of us at SystemsGo,” said Rebekah Hyatt, Executive Director of SystemsGo, who is submitting the milestone to the Guinness Book of World Records. “This innovative program continues to provide opportunities that inspire students to go above and beyond. These types of experiences and the life lessons learned have lasting positive impact on our students and those around them. This is what we do!”

Shawanta Smart, Commander of White Sands Test Center, hosted SystemsGo and its participating high school teams for their 23rd annual rocket launches on White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).

“I am excited,” Smart said. “We had four high schools from Texas with 125 students and personnel gathered for this launch. Providing White Sands Missile Range as a testing site for their rockets is an opportunity for students to have hands-on STEM related curriculum in their school programs.”

For the students, achieving the World Record was “probably one of the biggest in their lives,” according to Chris McLeod, who is completing his fifth year as a teacher of the SystemsGo program at Brazoswood High School.

“SystemsGo is about setting up a problem and letting the students solve it” McLeod said. “Even if a team did not see mission success, the program built the same skills. But to also complete the mission is a reason to celebrate. We are looking forward to trying to top it next year.”

students launchers

Pictured is the SystemsGo rocketry team from Brazoswood High School (TX) at White Sands Missile Range where their rocket achieved a world record. Photo Credit US Army White Sands Missile Range

The students are part of the SystemsGo program, a Fredericksburg-based nonprofit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum that uses a problem and project-based model to teach skills in design, development, testing, analysis, and innovation. It was developed in 1996 by teacher Brett Williams and is now used in dozens of high schools in Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Other schools participating in the WSMR launch this year were Alamo Heights High School, teacher Colin Lang; Union Grove High School, teachers Greg Park and Rhonda Baker; and Fredericksburg High School, teacher Andrew Matthes. Union Grove and Fredericksburg High Schools also achieved successful launches. Union Grove also broke their district record with an altitude of 11,430 ft AGL.

SystemsGo has been utilizing the resources of the U.S. Army testing range since 1999. It is a unique partnership between the U.S. Army and SystemsGo that makes this opportunity available to high schools offering the curriculum. The range provides radar, communications, optics, range control and real time support, according to Rene Plancarte, Test Officer for the Material Test Directorate.

“It is important to provide real-world experience to young students who are interested in this field so that they understand what a real test facility does to test rockets,” Plancarte said.

WSMR launches are part of the capstone program of SystemsGo, designated the Goddard Level, with a goal to carry a scientific payload to 50,000 ft. At the Tsiolkovsky Level, students design, build, and launch rockets designed and to loft one-pound one mile high. Oberth Level students attempt to achieve the speed of sound.

More information on SystemsGo, including how to start a program, is at www.systemsgo.org.